The Oregon State walk-on legacy

THE ABILITY OF the Oregon State staff to develop walk-ons into starters and sometimes into NFL caliber players is nothing short of amazing. Six, count 'em, six former or current walk-ons will crack the starting lineup Saturday against TCU.

Four of the Beavers' five starting offensive lineman are current or former walk ons with all four walking on in 2007.

Right tackle Mike Remmers was thrust into a starting role in 2008 as a redshirt freshman after Tavita Thompson was ruled ineligible.

After seven starts protecting Sean Canfield's blindside he earned a starting role during the spring of 2009 and was awarded a scholarship.

* designates current walk on
LG Grant Johnson
LT Wilder McAndrews
RT Mike Remmers
RG Burke Ellis *
RG Michael Lamb *
WR Aaron Nichols
RB Jordan Jenkins
DT Brennan Olander
DE Andrew Seumalo *
P Johnny Hekker

NOTE: The aforementioned players are current or former walk ons that are listed on the official two deeps

Remmers now has 20 career starts under his belt, including 13 consecutive, and offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh believes Remmers has the talent to  make it in the big league.

"I expect him to be a dominant player,'' Cavanaugh told The Oregonian.  "He could be one of those next guys to play in the NFL."

Offensive guard Burke Ellis, a current walk on, recently won the right guard spot with solid outings in the spring and fall of 2010.

Junior Grant Johnson grabbed a staring spot in 2009 after moving from center to offensive tackle before finding a home at left guard where he has started 13 consecutive games.

"He can run and jump and change directions well," Cavanaugh told The Oregonian.  "That proved he had good feet, and you could tell he was smart."

The often injured Wilder McAndrews had one of the best spring camps in 2010. His standout performance had the coaches seriously thinking about moving All-American Michael Philipp inside.

Cavanaugh also has high praise for McAndrews saying he has everything one looks for in an offensive lineman. Due to Philipp's injuries and McAndrews' high level of play the senior will receive his first career start this weekend.

Another walk-on turned starter that recently cracked the staring lineup is receiver Aaron Nichols. Nichols always turned in solid spring and fall camps and has finally made his way onto the field.

"There are guys who just don't surprise you when they make a play and Aaron Nichols is one of those guys," coach Mike Riley said recently. "He's so consistent at everything he does. He plays all three (receiver) positions, he plays on almost all of our special teams.

"He's just a fabulous player."

Former walk on punter Johnny Hekker has transformed himself into one of the better punters in the nation as he landed on this year's preseason Ray Guy Watch List and was a semifinalist for the award in 2009.  Hekker walked on in 2008 earning a scholarship after the season where he 43.4 yards per punt in the last half of the season while being named the Sun Bowl Special Teams MVP.

Other walk-ons that litter the two deeps include offensive guard Michael Lamb, defensive end Andrew Seumalo, running back Jordan Jenkins and defensive tackle Brennan Olander.

Lamb and Seumaolo will see plenty of time as a backup as will Jenkins, who has impressed Riley time and time again. 

Olander earned a scholarship in 2009 promptly starting nine games and grabbing 8.0 tackles for loss, the second most on the team.  Although he isn't officially listed as a starter he will receive plenty of snaps and could crack the starting lineup shortly.

The tremendous amount of success that walk ons have had at Oregon State has become part of the program's identity.  The fairness that the coaches treat the players gives athletes that may not have a scholarship the drive and purpose to give it a shot in Corvallis.

And if they perform well -- they will be rewarded.

Another great aspect about the thriving walk ons is that they are homegrown talent.  Of the six walk ons starting Saturday three are from Oregon and one is from Washington.


  WR Damola Adeniji | 2009
Hauled in 57 passes for 807 yards (second on the team) and five touchdowns (second on the team) as he was one of Canfield's favorite targets - especially in the redzone.
  DE Slade Norris |
A deadly force off of the edge Norris accumulated 28.5 tackles for loss and 19 sacks in just two years as a defensive end.
  WR Mike Hass |
One of the best, if not the best, receivers in Oregon State history Hass strung together three consecutive 1,000 yard seasons smashing most of the school's receiving records.
  K Alexis Serna |
The 2005 Lou Groza award winner concluded his career as the school's leader in every kicking category.
  S Greg Laybourn |
Was the Pac-10's co-leading tackler in 2008 after making 105 stops earning second team all-conference honors.
  QB Jonathan Smith |
Piloted the Beavers to an 11-1 season in 2000 and a Fiesta Bowl stomping of Notre Dame.  His 9,680 career yards and 55 career touchdowns are the second most in school history.

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