CORVALLIS — Malcolm Agnew swears he wasn't trying to prove anything last Saturday against Wisconsin.
But the way the sophomore running back busted through the line a couple times on his way to 45 yards on 11 carries, you'd think he was trying to show that he is just as capable as Storm Woods of being the No. 1 running back for Oregon State. Agnew says that's not the case though.
"I was just trying to play my best game, to be honest," Agnew said. "After no game last week (vs. Nicholls State) I was ready. In football it's definitely about 'we' before 'me,' but sometimes you have to be about 'me' a little just so you go out and do your job and help the 'we.'"
When head coach Mike Riley announced a few weeks into fall camp that Woods, a redshirt freshman, had won the starting job, few were surprised. Woods looked like the leader through spring ball, and questions about Agnew's health — could his tender hamstrings handle an entire season? — remained. Agnew played in just six games last year, but impressed in his debut, rushing for 223 yards against Sacramento State. So when Agnew bulldozed
So when Agnew bulldozed through Wisconsin's defense for a 16-yard gain at one point in the Beavers' 10-7 win, Riley wasn't surprised.
"From the minute I ever had him on the field, he is one of the hardest-working, toughest, most attentive players around here," Riley said.
Riley attributes part of Agnew's toughness to his dad, Ray Agnew, an 11-year NFL defensive tackle, and Malcolm agrees. He doesn't need any extra motivation in the form of the depth chart because he grew up in a competitive household. Ray is in his sixth year as a scout for the St. Louis Rams, and gets to double-dip on Oregon State games this season: He's working, but also cheering on his son.
If the Wisconsin game is any indication, there will be plenty of reasons to cheer for Agnew the rest of the fall.
Woods has said he's happy to share the load, and so long as the Beavers get 1,800 yards on the ground this year, Riley will be happy.
As for those hamstrings, Agnew says so far, so good.