Last week I looked at the DT situation for the Oregon State football team headed into spring practice. The conclusion was there were bodies, but no standouts.
Also, I pointed out that the DTs in the gap cancelation defense just need to take up as many blockers as possible for the DEs and LBs to do their job and get all the glory.
My conclusion was the DEs must be the DL play-makers in the pass rush and containing the outside run. So, let’s take a look at the DEs.
There are nine returning DEs on the roster. Upperclassman veteran Taylor Henry retired in the middle of the last season and as of now there are no incoming recruits. Coach Mike Riley didn’t make DL a priority this recruiting year.
Scott Crichton (6-3, 258): He has a breakthrough season as a freshman all-American with 74 tackles, 14.5 tackles-for-loss, six sacks and six forced fumbles. He’ll be a standout for the next three years.
Dylan Wynn (6-2, 240): Took over as the other starter by midseason. He had a 44 tackles, 5.5 tackles-for-loss and five fumble recoveries. He’s a high motor guy who never gives up. He could be another defensive anchor for three more years.
They are a good place to start for the Beavers. Both of them should be much better next season due to experience, and Wynn in particular with intense offseason weightlifting. Let’s look at the depth and who can be pass-rush specialists.
Desmond Collins (6-2, 254): Redshirted last year. I don’t know much about him, yet, but Rivals.com rated him a three-star athlete. He’s a guy of the future.
Rusty Fernando (6-3, 232): Played some as a pass-rush specialist due to smaller size and speed. DL coach Joe Seumalo had a great line about him when he first saw Fernando on campus: “Get that kid a sandwich,” to get some weight on him.
Rudolf Fifita (6-3, 263): A JC guy who arrived last season. He was a solid guy off the bench with eight tackles in 11 games. He should play a similar role next season.
Akeem Gonzalez (6-3, 233): Redshirted last season. Riley and defensive coordinator Mark Banker had a friendly discussion over what side of the ball to play this three-star athlete. Banker found him, so he kept him. He’s a player of the future, and could be a pass-rush specialist, too.
Blake Harrah (6-1, 245): A JC guy who came in last season, but hurt his knee during training camp. He redshirted to recover from surgery. He was looked at as a potential starter in spring practice. So, if he can get his speed back, Harrah could work his way into the rotation in place of Henry.
Devon Kell (6-4, 251): The walk-on had three years in the program to develop. He could be a pass-rush specialist, but has been bulking up. He’s good for depth at the moment.
Mana Rosa (6-3, 268): Another guy with three years of development. He has battled injuries in his career. Until he can stay healthy and show what he can do, he’s a good depth guy.
So, the Beavers have two returning starters, two JC guys who had some playing time, a JC guy who redshirted ready to go, two redshirts we haven’t seen and two others who have been around a while and are looking for their break.
The position appears to have play-makers for the coming season and guys ready to step in if there are injuries or general attrition. That’s why Riley didn’t make this position a priority, but would pick up players if the right guy came along.
All these guys must make a difference. Looking back, when OSU’s defense played well it had standout DEs named Bill Swancutt, Jeff Van Orsow, Dorian Smith, Victor Butler and Slade Norris.
They all had speed, a nose for the ball and hit hard. And all of them played in pros at some level. Most of them had NFL looks.