Oregon State Players To Watch
Beavers football opened fall camp in Corvallis last week. The team ran drills, plays and dummy blocking schemes in shorts and jerseys. Not much was new, although they did wear new practice jerseys. Head coach Mike Riley looked good, smiling and energetic. Nobody dug on him with a bunch of quarterback questions, though, probably because he warned the media of such shenanigans during a conference call days prior. After all, the whole "Cody Vaz or Sean Mannion?" thing has lingered longer than a bachelor party hangover.
That said, a few names are worth mentioning. Well, as much as there could be with shorts and jerseys.
1. Junior WR Brandin Cooks: Markus Wheaton is with the Steelers, and Cooks is the No. 1 guy. He's starting to act like it too. He's vocal, sharp and focused. But not too focused, as I caught him dancing some bizarre jig to "Thrift Shop," which blared over the speakers. Keeping it light was always his thing. What impressed me the most, however, was his willingness to coach other players. As the offense ran through no-defense plays, instead of swapping out with his assigned squad, Cooks lingered near the new receivers, injecting advice during the cadence before each snap. He was especially vocal with fellow receiver Victor Bolden. There's a reason for that.
2. Freshman WR Victor Bolden: Basically a Cooks look-a-like, at least in stature. I wouldn't say Bolden is as fast as Cooks, but he might be shiftier. He's built like a receiver, but gallops like a running back. The way his head seems to bobble as he makes cuts reminds me of Adrian Peterson. And by "bobble" I mean he has great head jukes. He's one to watch.
3. Junior QB Sean Mannion: Riley said no comment, so we'll leave it at that.
4. Freshman RB Damien Haskins: If Storm Woods is the versatile starter and Terron Ward is the small, powerful backup, Haskins is somewhere in between. He runs low, but carries the ball upright, always with both arms, elbows up and out. The man does not want to fumble. He's also showing his ability to hit holes, even if there are no defenders. He's wider and more built than Woods. Ward could become some sort of short yardage back for the Beavers. Just a hunch.
That's all for now. We'll report back when pads come on and people starting hitting/fighting, as per usual with football fall camps.