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  • Beavers looking to win depth game

  • Mike Riley said there's two elements to running a college football program — coaching and recruiting.
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  • Mike Riley said there's two elements to running a college football program — coaching and recruiting.
    He's just not sure which one's 1 and which is 1a in order of importance.
    "I don't know which one's first because they're both probably balanced out in how important they are," Riley said.
    The NFL has free agency and the draft. College football coaching staffs have to recruit players to build their rosters.
    Unlike pro football, college teams can't pick up players during the season when hit by a rash of injuries.
    Lack of depth can be devastating.
    It hurt OSU in 2010 and 2011 and resulted in down seasons.
    The Beavers have done a strong job in landing players to fill out areas of need in the past two classes.
    A thin offensive line contributed to a 3-9 season in 2010, so the OSU staff went to work and landed five linemen.
    Stan Hasiak did not qualify but Isaac Seumalo stepped in and started at center.
    This past year, the concentration was on filling holes and upgrading depth on defense.
    The Beavers signed 16 athletes listed as defensive players, including seven linemen.
    There hasn't been a change in the OSU coaching staff's fundamental philosophy when it comes to recruiting.
    The Beavers have been able to close the deal with a better rate of success.
    "I think over the last three to four years we got into a lot of 50-50s come signing day and we were on the wrong end of that 50-50," defensive coordinator Mark Banker said. "I think we're a lot better and more sound this time.
    "The philosophy hasn't changed from a standpoint of going for need, it's just that we hit the target a lot better this year."
    The coaching staff got a boost of recruiting power with the hiring of Rod Perry as the secondary coach, who is going into his second season at OSU, and running backs coach Chris Brasfield, going into his third.
    Perry played and coached in the NFL and Brasfield is from San Antonio and has quite a few connections in Texas and the surrounding area.
    "He grew up in San Antonio, so he's got some pretty good ties," Riley said. "He's got a very good knowledge of Texas and it's definitely helped us."
    The 2013 class should remedy a problem area that has plagued the Beavers in recent seasons.
    Injuries derailed some careers before they got off the ground. Some players did not qualify.
    Some classes were light on defensive linemen, particularly at tackle.
    Stephen Paea was the lone DT recruit in 2008 and he was a junior college player. In 2009, the Beavers brought in Mana Rosa at defensive end and wound up switching him to tackle.
    The next year, OSU signed Thomas Molesi and Fred Thompson. Molesi never made it in and Thompson died from a heart condition.
    Desmond Collins and Noke Tago were the lone DT recruits in the 2011 and 2012 classes. The Beavers got through last season with senior Andrew Seumalo and Castro Masaniai manning the inside.
    "We've been playing catch-up on the defensive line now for about four or five years because of the fact that we had so many significant injuries to a lot of young guys we had," Banker said.
    "Along with graduation, that became a critical spot."
    Looking to the junior colleges for a quick fix has been a strategy Riley and his staff had backed off from to an extent.
    In the 2009 to 2012 classes, the Beavers landed very few JC players, with four (2011) as the high number.
    They signed nine in 2006 and it paid off as Lyle Moevao, Shane Morales, Joey LaRocque and Dorian Smith all became major contributors.
    For every Paea (2008) there are several JC players that don't pan out or don't make it into school.
    A miss in the recruiting process can be tough to deal with because JC players are looked to when there's an immediate need.
    "We don't normally bring in a JC guy to redshirt, so we want it to work right off the bat," Riley said. "If it doesn't work, there's a lot of anguish. The player's disappointed, we don't have that void filled that we thought was going to be filled. So we need to be right."
    The Beavers did hesistate to go the JC route in the most recent class.
    They signed defensive tackles Edwin Delva, Kyle Peko, Siale Hautau and Lyndon Tulimasealii, defense end Charles Tuaau and cornerback Steven Nelson.
    It's a risk, but one worth taking.
    "We've had really good impact from junior college players in our program and if you go through the years it's been fairly successful," Riley said. "And then there are some times where you have to take a good look and see, 'OK, we need this many guys at this position,' like defensive line this year and it would be good when I look at this group to have some guys with experience. That and we have a real good idea that they're going to be competitive to play right away."
    The Beavers recruit players to their offensive and defensive schemes, so it stands to reason that Riley's tendency is to bring in prototypical pocket passers at quarterback or light and lightning-quick outside linebackers.
    Other teams have evolved in different directions.
    Several Pac-12 teams now run the spread option.
    "Nothing's changed from the standpoint of always recruiting players with athletic ability and speed," Banker said. "But maybe body type, maybe looking at a bigger safety to come down and play the outside 'backer position and not settling for something else because now instead of just having one linebacker that has to play out in space, at times you've got two that have to play out in space. So that type of thing, yeah, that's significant."
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