One to watch in 2010: LB Kevin 'Unga

THERE'S MORE OF 2009 yet to come, with the Las Vegas Bowl and a pivotal matchup with No. 14 BYU in a little over a week's time. But with a young OSU squad losing few players to graduation, it's also not too early to start looking forward and some of the reasons why the Beavs will be among those forecast to challenge for the '10 conference crown.

Like many heralded Beavers of old, Kevin 'Unga has made a name for himself on special teams his first season, recording 18 tackles (6 solo) and helping OSU special teams become one of the best cover units in the conference in 2009.

With the departure of senior Keaton Kristick at the outside ‘backer position after this season, 'Unga is expected to battle with senior-to-be Keo Camat for the starting strongside spot.

'Unga possesses good speed and size at 6-1, 223 pounds. If his special teams play is any indication, expect to hear a lot from No. 41 next year.

As far as OSU ‘backers go, ‘Unga fits the mold perfectly and as just a sophomore in 2010, has time and room to grow in d-coordinator's Mark Banker's system.

AFTER SIGNING HIS letter of intent to play football at Oregon State in 2006, Kevin ‘Unga put the cleats and pads aside to embark on a two year LDS mission in Chile.

While members of his signing class, such as Lyle Moevao, Howard Croom, and Kristick have just one more game in their OSU careers before exhausting their eligibility, ‘Unga saw his first action as a Beaver in 2009 and has three years left to make a splash as a Beaver.

UPON RETURNING FROM his mission, ‘Unga didn't miss a beat and was in prime shape, pressing for serious playing time. Indeed, midway through fall camp, Mike Riley said ‘Unga would forgo his redshirt year and would be used on special teams.

From then on, it has been clear what ‘Unga brings to the table.

With ‘Unga, bloodlines run deep. Cousins Fahu Tahi and Reno Mahe, and uncle Tim Mano'a had careers in the NFL. His cousin, Harvey ‘Unga, plays college ball at BYU, the Beavs' Las Vegas Bowl opponent. And twin brother Devin 'Unga plays alongside him at Oregon State.

Kevin, or "Feti" as he goes by, played his high school ball in Hawaii, helping lead the Kahuku Red Raiders to the state championship in his senior year (2005). ‘Unga earned first team all-state honors and was given a two star rating by

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