Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 1/28/13
Plugging the holes Despite an outstanding 2012 season–in which the Beavers went 9-4 and finished No. 13 in the BCS—OSU has plenty of holes to fill in 2013. Mike Riley has lots of depth to play with next season, but he’s losing two huge players in seniors Markus Wheaton and Jordan Poyer. If the Beavs hope to build on their 2012 success, they’ll need to plug up these problem positions in 2013. Middle linebacker The Beavers got a lot of production out of their linebacker corp this year, and most of it should carry over to next season with the return of Michael Doctor and D.J. Alexander. The big loss will come up the middle, as senior Feti Taumoepeau has exhausted his eligibility. OSU’s linebackers were great last year against the run, but lacked at bringing pressure and dropping into coverage. They could use an extra dose of strength and speed. Waiting in the wings is Joel Skotte, who played in four games as a freshman in 2012—racking up seven tackles and a forced fumble. Skotte has the size and strength to move through blockers easily, and could grow into a force next season. Cornerback It’ll be tough to replace Poyer’s production in 2013. (Photo Credit: Corvallis Gazette-Times) This might have been Oregon State’s strongest defensive position last season, with Rashaad Reynolds and Jordan Poyer combining for 10 interceptions. Unfortunately Poyer is a senior and headed for bigger and better things in this year’s NFL draft. The Beaver’s have no immediate replacement at the position. Junior Sean Martin looked solid at times last season, but he worked better as a backup. He’s not a long term solution. Riley has made cornerback a priority with recruits this season, and he currently has a commit from four-star athlete Dashon Hunt. Despite his small size, Hunt is said to have great instincts and physicality. He should fit right into Riley’s system, and could see playing time as a freshman in 2013—if the commit sticks. Safety Despite the play of it’s cornerbacks, Oregon State still had issues against the pass last season. One reason for that was a lack of depth at safety, which often resulted in big plays down the middle. Starting senior Anthony Watkins will exit the program this year, and the Beaver’s hope sophomore Tyrequek Zimmerman has what it takes to take his place. Zimmerman enjoyed spot starts in 2012, finishing his season with 63 tackles and three pass deflections. Tight end Oregon State never recovered from it’s loss of senior Joe Halahuni before the 2012 season. OSU tight ends combined for four touchdowns in 2012, where as Halahuni had three in 2011—an injury shortened season—and six in 2010. One player who fans should be excited to see is Caleb Smith. The 6’6″, 264 pound, recruit has made waves since committing to program before 2012. Smith graduated high school early in order to enroll in time for spring practices, and he made the team as a true freshman this season. Expect plenty of these from Mullaney in 2013. (Photo: @Rmullaney08 / Twitter.com) His upside will provide a huge offensive weapon in 2013. Wide receiver There’s no doubt OSU’s wideouts were some of the best in 2012, with Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks combining for 2,395 yards and 16 touchdowns. But Wheaton is headed to the NFL this season, and Riley needs to find some depth. Richard Mullaney is sure to land a starters role next season—he averaged 12.0 yards per catch in limited action—but that leaves the Beavers lacking a No. 3 guy. As always Riley has his eye on some wide receiver recruits heading into 2013, and hopefully they can provide OSU some depth next season. CHECK OUT THE BEAVERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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