WITH KEITH PANKEY out for spring practice and David Pa'aluhi leaving to join the military there's lots of work do to at linebacker this spring. The good news -- there is plenty of young talent in the system chomping at the bit to make their mark in Orange and Black.



Despite spending two years away from football on their missions the Unga brothers hit the ground running with their physical, heady play. If the duo can make an impact after being away from football for two years imagine what effect they will have after playing football for a year.

Honorable mention All-Pac-10 players Dwight Roberson and Keith Pankey return and should rank near the top of the team in tackles throughout the year.

Rueben Robinson received valuable playing time as a true freshman which should help his development this season.

And a host of veteran players - Keo Camat, Walker Vave and Paul Jones - provide some continuity on the depth chart.


The west coast version of "Linebacker U" has taken several big hits between the end of the year and the spring. 

Of course the team's leading tackler Keaton Kristick graduated, but the team also unexpectedly lost starting middle linebacker David Pa'aluhi, a Pac-10 honorable mention pick in '09, to the military.

Pa'aluhi's departure leaves a gaping hole in the middle. Gone is his tough play, his 13 starts and his 77 tackles from last season.

Just a few weeks later part time starter Keith Pankey tore his Achilles tendon resulting in him missing spring ball.  If he was healthy he could have slide over to cover the spot left by Kristick.


Can the linebackers replace two starters, but keep their high level of play?


  • LB Keith Pankey (Achilles tendon) - tore his Achilles tendon in Feb. and had surgery; will miss spring practice
  • LB Tony Wilson (knee) - missed all of regular 2009 season due to knee surgery; fully healed and ready to go


Tony Wilson. After missing most of 2009 recovering from knee surgery Wilson is thrust into the starting lineup. Will Wilson hit the ground running and make Beaver fans forget about Pa'alhui or will the Oregon product struggle?



Although the spring starting lineup will feature two new linebackers the unit should be in fine condition.

Yes, there will be a learning curve, and there will be a dropoff in losing Pa'aluhi. But the coaching staff has done an outstanding job recruiting and their hard work in the past few winters now pays off.

The Unga brothers are both set to have breakout years. The coaches are very excited about sophomores Robinson and Wilson. And then there is the steady play of Roberson, a probable All-Pac-10 pick, and possibly Pankey if he returns.

Pankey says he expects to be back by July, but that appears an extremely optimistic outlook. Gabe Miller had the same injury and it was seven months before he was ready to play.

If Pankey returns for the year the most likely scenario is him cracking the lineup by mid September - which wouldn't be a bad thing. Since he is a senior he should be able to hit the ground running.

Even with Kristick and Pa'aluhi gone coach Mike Riley thinks that if Pankey returns during the start of the year the unit will come close to what they would have been if Pa'aluhi had returned.

The positive side of Pankey being out for the spring is the younger players will get more snaps which will only help later in the year.


  • Sr. Keith Pankey (6-0, 231) - will miss spring practice after tearing his Achilles heal...optimistically will be back in July, but could be out for the year...could redshirt as he played as a true freshman...honorable mention all-conference last year...13 career starts...one of the vocal leaders on defense...44 tackles, including 4.5 for loss...one of the vocal leaders of the defense....good speed and active
  • So. Devin Unga (6-1, 219) - great football instincts, physical, strong, only getting better...one half of The Smash Brothers, the nickname for the Unga twins for how they blow up the wedge on kickoffs...one of eight true freshman to play in 2009...made 12 tackles in '09...will practice with the first string defense in spring of 2010
  • Sr. Keo Camat (6-2, 238) - Riley has singled out Camat a few times, but the Oregonian has yet to produce...made 16 tackles, including one sack, in 2009...added 12 pounds in the off season
  • Jr. Paul Jones (6-2, 209) - long time walk on who faces an uphill battle for playing time...did not participate in last spring practice due to a knee injury


  • So. Tony Wilson (6-1, 231) - missed most of 2009 after injuring his right knee and having surgery...worked very hard and played on special teams in the Las Vegas Bowl...coaches are very excited about his potential...quick and smart...a standout scout team player in 2008...runs the 40 in the 4.5 range
  • So. Rueben Robinson (6-1, 222) - can play inside or outside, built like an outside linebacker...played almost the entire Las Vegas Bowl after Pa'aluhi was injured...one of eight true freshman to play in 2009...finished 2009 with 12 tackles, including 1.5 for loss

  • So. Kevin Unga (6-1, 236) - great football instincts, physical, strong, only getting better...one half of The Smash Brothers, the nickname for the Unga twins for how they blow up the wedge on kickoffs...made 18 tackles in 2009...one of eight true freshman to play in 2009...added 13 pounds in the off season

  • Sr. Walker Vave (6-2, 242) - played in seven games last year, mostly on special teams, making two tackles...a longtime special teams player


  • Sr. Dwight Roberson (6-0, 232) - 2009 honorable mention all-conference...13 straight starts...a good nose for the ball...strong and physical - plays with an attitude...55 tackles, third most out of returning players, including 7.5 for loss in '09...a lead by example type of player
  • So. Zane Norris (6-2, 223) - younger brother of Slade Norris...Riley says he will make an impact before his career his over...look for him to make an impact on special teams

  • Fr. Michael Doctor (5-11, 216) - grayshirt who enrolled in Jan. of 2010...a physical specimen at a solid 203 pounds...could play on special teams...already added 15 pounds since arriving in Corvallis
  • RFr. Charlie Gilmur (6-1, 227) - walked in in spring of 2010...played for Curtis High School in Tacoma, WA...earned first team SPSL 4A linebacker honors as a senior...also played fullback


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