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February 28, 2013

Spring Prospectus: Early Look at the Defense

With Spring Camp a month away it is time to start breaking down the roster. Yesterday we took a look at the offensive roster, today we dive in and break down the defense.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Defensive tackles Castro Masaniai and Andrew Seumalo have left, but defensive ends [db]Scott Crichton[/db] (17.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks) and [db]Dylan Wynn[/db] (49 tackles) are back in 2013, meaning the Beavers should be even better and more experienced in the perimeter.

Crichton started making a name for himself around the Pac-12 last season and should reach the next level in 2013. Wynn actually had more tackles than Crichton, and will look to take advantage if opposing offensive lines pay too much heed to Crichton.

Who will step in for Masaniai and Seumalo? There will be no shortage of candidates starting with [db]Mana Rosa[/db], the backup to Seumalo last season, and three junior college signees - [db]Edwin Delva[/db], [db]Siale Hautau[/db] and [db]Kyle Peko[/db].

Figure on two of those four earning spots on the two-deep. But up and comers like [db]Ali'i Robins[/db] and [db jackson]Brandon Bennett-Jackson[/db] could challenge as well. Unquestionably, the competition should be fierce.

Starters: Scott Crichton (DE), Edwin Delva OR Siale Hautau OR Kyle Peko (DT), Mana Rosa (DT), Dylan Wynn (DE).

Backups: Lavonte Barnett, Brandon Bennett-Jackson, John Braun, Desmond Collins, Akeem Gonzales, Blake Harrah, Devon Kell, Joe Lopez, Ali'i Robins, Noke Tago, Charlie Tuaau, Lyndon Tulimasealii.

LINEBACKERS: Will there be a better linebacker tandem in the Pac-12 next season than Oregon State's outside linebacker duo of [db alexander]D.J. Alexander[/db] (strongside) and [db]Michael Doctor[/db] (weakside)? The latter was OSU's leading tackler in 2012 with 83 stops, while Alexander was fifth with 58 tackles.

The middle linebacker spot, though, is vacant following the departures of starter Feti Unga (56 tackles) and reserve Rueben Robinson, who was listed as the primary backup at all three spots. Expect an intense battle among several candidates for the job, including rising sophomore [db]Joel Skotte[/db], a 6-foot-2, 235-pound Bend, Ore. native.

"There will be great competition," OSU linebackers coach Trent Bray said. "With Rueben Robinson leaving, three spots (on the depth chart) opened up. Really, all the positions are open. Guys have to fight for playing time. Nothing is set in stone. Just because you started last year doesn't mean you'll start this year. Just because you played last year doesn't mean you'll play this year. You always have to be on your best game and you always have to work."

Starters: D.J. Alexander (SAM), Michael Doctor (WILL), Joel Skotte (MLB).

Backups: Shaydon Akuna, Kyle Gardner, Charlie Gilmur, Michael Greer, Jaswha James, Jabral Johnson, Dyllon Mafi, Rommel Mageo, Caleb Saulo, Josh Williams.

SECONDARY: Three of the four starters from last season return in 2013 - underrated cornerback [db]Rashaad Reynolds[/db] (second on team with 75 tackles) and safeties [db]Ryan Murphy[/db] (67 tackles) and [db]Tyrequek Zimmerman[/db] (63 tackles). The elephant in the room, though, is how the Beavers plan to replace All-America cornerback Jordan Poyer, one of the top ballhawkers in the nation last season as seen by his dazzling count of seven interceptions.

Next man up would appear to be rising senior [db]Sean Martin[/db], who was listed as the top backup at both cornerback spots in 2012, heralded JUCO signee [db]Steven Nelson[/db] or acclaimed four-star prospect [db]Dashon Hunt[/db]. The battle will certainly be one to watch leading up to the August 31 opener against Eastern Washington.

"Hopefully, we've gotten a couple more Jordan Poyers," Oregon State defensive coordinator Mark Banker said recently. "Not necessarily by name or position, but just that attitude and want-to to be successful and really develop here at Oregon State."

Starters: Rashaad Reynolds (CB), Ryan Murphy (FS), Tyrequek Zimmerman (SS), Steven Nelson OR Sean Martin (CB).

Backups: Micah Audiss, Peter Ashton, Mishawn Cummings, Tyler Hasty, Kendall Hill, Malcolm Marable, Cyril Noland-Lewis, Zack Robinson, Larry Scott, Jovan Stevenson.



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