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Erickson eager to pilot OSU attack

New Oregon State University head football coach Dennis Erickson made his first trip to the Rogue Valley Monday.

He liked what he saw.

Erickson, 51, who has a storied college coaching background and also coached the NFL's Seattle Seahawks the past four years, tested StoneRidge Golf Course with his 13 handicap.

Before teeing it up, Erickson -- who won two of the four national championship bowl games his Miami team played in from 1989 to 1994 -- spoke to students at McLoughlin Middle School in Medford and met with Beaver fans at the school, the golf course and an alumni dinner.

It's beautiful out here, he said. It's nice to finally get down here. I'm sure I'll hack up this course (StoneRidge), but it should be fun.

Erickson surprised many when he took on the challenge of finishing the rebuilding job started by Mike Riley. Riley coached OSU the past three seasons before taking the job as the San Diego Chargers head coach.

Erickson signed a five-year contract to coach the Beavers.

Why would a coach who won two national titles for Miami and coached in the NFL for four seasons take a job at Oregon State? The much-improved Beavers were 5-6 last year but haven't had a winning season since 1970.

With the facilities we have here at Oregon State, I think we can finish the job of turning this program around, Erickson said, as he looked out over the first hole at StoneRidge. We have the beautiful new locker room complex (Valley Football Center) and we're fund-raising for a new indoor practice facility.

With all that, we can win here.

Erickson helped his own cause with a strong recruiting season, snagging 12 talented junior college transfers, one of the top high school quarterbacks in the country and a bevy of talented receivers.

As for next season, it appears Jonathan Smith is the Beavers' No. — quarterback heading into fall camp. He has a slight edge over Terrance Bryant.

They both had good springs and did good things, said Erickson. I won't have a problem with going to either one of them.

Erickson lured what he calls one of the best high school quarterbacks he's recruited to OSU. He's Shayne House, a 6-foot-5, 205-pounder from El Dorado High of Camino, Calif., near Sacramento.

Coach Erickson's name means a lot, said Oregon State Beaver Club Director Greg rne, who accompanied Erickson on the trip to Medford. That's how he got the House kid.

If you are a great quarterback or receiver, and you have a chance to play for Dennis Erickson, you have to take it. He's known as the guru of offense after his years at Miami and with the Seahawks.

At Miami, Erickson's teams won 58 straight games, an NCAA record. He has a career winning percentage of .737. He also was head coach at Idaho (1982-85), Wyoming (1986) and Washington State (1987-88).

Erickson said the Beavers will go with the one-back offense he's run at every stop.

We will spread the field and throw the ball all over, he said. That's what I do. I feel we have the people to run that the first year, and things will get better and better as we recruit.

Without trying to brag, I have to say my name is helping me to recruit the skill people we need to Oregon State to run this offense. I plan to stay here, and I believe we can win here.

Erickson said former Cascade Christian High player Marty Maurer, who will be a junior in the fall, has won the starting tight end job.

Marty had a good spring, and he showed he's a good athlete who can catch the ball, said Erickson. He has the size and athletic ability to be our kind of tight end.

He needs to improve his blocking, but that will come along.

So, too, he hopes, will the Beavers' first winning season in some time.