CORVALLIS -- With the loss of prized bookends Slade Norris and Victor Strong-Butler to graduation, many questions were raised in the early stages of the spring ball. Who would emerge to fill their roles? Would there be a big drop-off in production? How would the black and orange pass rush be affected? And what about inside the trenches -- how is Paea looking and who might line up off his shoulder?

While it will be tough to replace the leadership and intensity Butler and Norris brought to the table, and on a game-by-game basis, those replacing the duo showed the same intense pass rushing style of play their predecessors exhibited.

Two new faces, which also happen to be Portland-Metro area kids stood out the most on the edges and brought similar speed and strength Butler and Norris brought to the Oregon State pass rushing attack.

Sophomore Kevin Frahm used a combination of brute strength and speed to impress onlookers, and would appear to hold a firm grasp on one of the starting end positions going into the season. The 6-foot-2, 255 pound defensive end played in every game last year but in a reserve role. That should not be the case this season, as Frahm had an impressive spring session.

Junior Gabe Miller, who smoothly made the transition from tight end to defensive end in the offseason, gave the offensive line fits on a regular basis. He has excellent speed for a player his size, and didn't experience many problems getting around blockers and into the backfield.

Miller should be one to watch in fall camp -- He's a backup to projected starter Ben Terry -- but if he continues on the path he blazed this spring, his playing time should only increase.

AS FOR TERRY, he had a productive spring, displaying raw power and decent speed for a player of his stature.

More importantly, Terry looked more comfortable and seemingly established himself this spring as a power rusher. He would appears to hold a consistent spot on the defensive line headed into fall.

Taylor Henry and Andrew Seumalo, a pair of redshirt freshman, also displayed power on the outside edges.

Seumalo, in particular, had no problem manhandling some of the offensive linemen, when going against the twos and threes, with the ability to separate and gain vision in the backfield. The power that both players displayed throughout camp was notable for such young players, and the future of the Oregon State defensive line could be a bright spot in the years to come.

AT DEFENSIVE TACKLE, junior Stephen Paea was dominant throughout the spring.

Indeed, Paea had his way with pretty much every offensive lineman that he was matched up against -- he should be a pain for Pac-10 offensive line coaches to game plan against game in, game out.

The issue then is will the Beavs see someone emerge off his shoulder so that he doesn't have to battle consistent double teams, something that could of course substantially limit his production.

Simply put, if someone emerges next to Paea -- and Paea stays healthy -- the Beavs could be dominant in the middle. But if the d-tackle next to Paea plays average or below average, much of Paea's impact could be blunted as offensive lines will simply double him.

THE BATTLE for that d-tackle position opposite Paea is expected to continue well into fall camp. Among the contenders, Sioeli Nau and Latu Moala.

Both are big, physical bodies that could provide Paea with the help necessary to free him up to disrupt and make plays. Nau looked to hold the edge in the battle coming out of spring ball but stay tuned.

Mitchel Hunt is also in play both here, and on the edge -- he is expected to play both tackle and end this fall for the Beavs.

And then there's Brennan Olander, who missed a majority of the spring with a recurring foot injury that fortunately did not require surgery.

Regardless of who earns the job(s), Paea will not be able to carry the interior defensive line by himself and will need someone to step up and aid in filling up the gaps and stopping the run.

Rounding out the depth at the defensive line position, junior Evan Hull and redshirt freshmen Castro Masaniai and Jesse Fifita. Hull looks to have a ways to go based on the spring but Masaniai and Fifita both add depth to the interior defensive line.

Junior Matt LaGrone is a wildcard. Tall and athletic, he's at defensive end, and that's where he's certainly expected to line up this season. Some Beaver fans have also wondered what if he adds weight to that 6-6, 240 pound frame..could d-tackle be in the cards at some point? Regardless, those kinds of long range answers, as well as ones having to do with his potential impact for this season, will have to wait on him -- he sat out the spring with a wrist injury.

As for Masaniai and Fifita, they could have a chance to earn some playing time if injuries hit or if they were to suddenly surge forward this offseason and in fall camp. Both Masaniai and Fifita are big, physical players, and use their strength to their advantage.

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