OSU football: Oregon State adds talent to roster

The start of training camp for the Oregon State football team is one week away. There is a great deal of anticipation for the upcoming season as the Beavers are coming off one of the most successful campaigns in program history, going 10-3 and winning their bowl game in 2022.
There is a lot of continuity on the roster going into the 2023 season, but as always in college football, some familiar faces have moved on and new players have arrived. Here is a look at some of the key changes on the roster as the offseason winds down.
Oregon State’s quarterback room got a nearly complete overhaul in the offseason. Past starters Tristan Gebbia and Chance Nolan left the program for Ohio State and Texas Christian, respectively.
Speaking at Pac-12 media day, head coach Jonathan Smith praised both for their contributions to the program and said he was happy they had the chance to continue their careers elsewhere.
“Each guy is unique," Smith said. "Tristan wants to long-term get into coaching. What an unbelievable opportunity that is for him to go to a big-time program with a big-time coach and coaches and really learn. Opportunity to compete for one year. He's done a ton for our program. In no way was I down on him to finish his career doing that.
“Really same thing with Chance. Chance did a lot of good things for us. Won games as a starting quarterback. Looked for a new opportunity, which we were fully supportive of. Now he's going to (a) place that won a bunch of games last year. Couldn't be happier for both those guys.”
Oregon State filled those spots with the signing of highly recruited freshman Aidan Chiles and the addition of Clemson transfer DJ Uiagalelei. They are joined by returning starter Ben Gulbranson.
Smith said Chiles, who graduated early in order to take part in spring drills at Oregon State, got off to a very impressive start, especially considering his age — he won't turn 18 until October.
“You think about spring practice. Ninety percent of the guys practicing have been in the program for a year. You only got a small amount of newcomers that are brand-new. He's one of those, and competing at a level right with those guys,” Smith said.
“DJ came along as well in January, got a bunch of reps through the spring, got more and more comfortable from practice one to 15. They had a good teammate in Ben Gulbranson (who) started for us last year, eight games. They worked well together, communicated. (It’s) well understood we're going to let this get into August, give a bunch of reps for the first couple weeks and let the dust settle.”
Quarterback wasn’t the only offensive position to see significant change. The Beavers lost wide receivers Tre’Shaun Harrison and Tyjon Lindsey to graduation. Harrison led the team in 2022 with 52 catches for 604 yards and four touchdowns. Lindsey added 30 receptions for 307 yards and a touchdown.
Oregon State added a junior college receivers Jamai East and Jailen Holmes. East is a highly regarded prospect who had offers from several Power 5 schools before committing to Oregon State. And if there is a true freshman on the roster who has a chance to contribute this season it may be Zachary Card, who made an immediate impression in spring drills.
At tight end, Luke Musgrave entered the NFL draft after an injury-shortened junior year and was selected in the second round by the Green Bay Packers. Sophomore Jake Velling is expected to start this fall and the Beavers added depth with the addition of transfer Jermaine Terry II from California.
Offensive line was one of the team’s strengths a year ago and nothing that has happened in the offseason should change that. The Beavers graduated standout Brandon Kipper but brought back star tackles Taliese Fuaga and Joshua Gray, along with starting center Jake Levengood.
The Beavers added lineman Grant Starck, who transferred from Nevada after starting all 12 games in 2022. He will compete with returnees Heneli Bloomfield and Marco Brewer for the two starting guard spots. That competition should be one of the highlights of training camp.
The Beavers lost several key defensive players to graduation and the NFL draft. The secondary was hit the hardest with the departures of Jaydon Grant, Rezjohn Wright and Alex Austin. Linebacker Kyrei Fisher-Morris and lineman Simon Sandberg also played out their eligibility. In addition, linebacker Omar Speights transferred to LSU and defensive back Ron Hardge III left for Colorado State.
For a team that built its identity last season around defense and the ability to run the football, these are significant losses and include four of the team’s top five tacklers from a year ago. Speights led the team with 83 total tackles, Fisher-Morris was third with 77 and Austin was fifth with 57.
Grant shared the team lead in interceptions with three pickoffs and was fourth in tackles (64), but those statistics don’t come close to measuring his importance as a veteran leader.
Replacing that leadership and production will be key to the team’s success this season. The biggest single addition on defense may be defensive lineman Oluwaseyi Omotosho from Wyoming. His pass rushing ability could help fill a long-standing need on the edge for the Beavers.
Oregon State also added depth at linebacker with incoming transfers Calvin Hart Jr. (Illinois) and Mason Tufaga (Utah), as well as the addition of junior college linebacker Nikko Taylor.
The Beavers added junior college players Tyrice Ivy and Drake Vickers to bolster the secondary. But Oregon State will largely rely on returning players to fill the gaps in the defensive backfield and the return of Kitan Oladapo was a huge boost for the unit.
Oladapo represented Oregon State at Pac-12 media day last week along with Anthony Gould and spoke about the players he expects to step up this season.
“Definitely Easton Mascarenas, our starting linebacker, breakout season last year. He's about to be a junior. He's going to (have a) great season,” Oladapo said before calling out some of his fellow defensive backs. “Ryan Cooper as well is going to take the next step. Had a great season last year. As well as Jaden Robinson. Can't wait for Alton Julian to get back out there with me, get him back healthy. Those are guys I'm looking forward to playing with.”

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