Malcolm Agnew and Brandin Cooks will make history for the Oregon State football team on Saturday.
No true freshman has started the first game of the season at running back or flanker for the Beavers.
That will change when OSU opens the season at 1 p.m. against Sacramento State. Coach Mike Riley announced them as starters Tuesday morning.
"I'm going to cry from the emotions from coming out of the tunnel because I'm an emotional person," Agnew said. "But I'll be all right after that. It's going to be surreal to run out of the tunnel as a freshman."
Agnew won the running back job outright over senior Ryan McCants, sophomore Jovan Stevenson and greyshirt freshman Terron Ward.
Ward will be the primary backup with Stevenson getting some work, and possibly Jordan Jenkins, who is recovering from a shoulder injury.
"He has shown to be our most productive running back," Riley said of Agnew. "It was running ability, but he has the ability to make that quick cut. It's acceleration and vision that really stood out. And he's one of our strongest players. He's young, but you are not going to arm-tackle this guy."
McCants dropped down the depth chart because of his age and limited experience. Agnew and Ward are capable of playing now, and for the next three seasons.
"We don't have a crystal ball," Riley said of McCants. "He will remain ready, and is very capable of being the tailback for us."
Cooks will play for senior James Rodgers, who is still recovering from knee surgery. Cooks has the speed to stretch the field and run the fly sweep.
If or when Rodgers returns, they could share the position. Riley describes Cooks as the perfect player to be the flanker after what Rodgers has done with the position.
"I'm nervous, but my thought is if you are not nervous you are not ready," Cooks said. "So I'm nervous, but I'm also excited. It has been my dream to play college ball and it's right around the corner."
Starting split end Markus Wheaton returned after taking two practices off with a hip injury. He is listed day-to-day for Saturday's game. If he can't play, Obum Gwacham will start with Geno Munoz the backup.
Offensive guard Josh Andrews returned to practice after last week's concussion.
Outside linebacker Cameron Collins will start even though he has been slowed by offseason abdominal surgery. His backup, Rueben Robinson (back), is questionable.
Redshirt freshman tight end Tyler Perry had surgery this week on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus and will be out at least three weeks.
The three players suspended for one game who are eligible to play will not serve them this week, Riley said. They will serve them when Riley feels it's the best time for the team.
They play in positions where the depth is thin due to injury, so Riley wants to wait until veteran players return.
Defensive tackle Castro Masaniai will play because Kevin Frahm is out at least two games after knee surgery.
Tight end Connor Hamlett will be the only game-ready backup and defensive tackle Joe Lopez will be available to play.
Perry is out with an injury and safety Will Storey is redshirting this season.
Starting defensive tackle Dominic Glover is not yet academically eligible. He missed Monday's practice to do school work and returned Tuesday.
Glover previously said he needed to pass a class to reach 80 percent completion of his degree. However, his last summer term ended two weeks ago.
"I'm very hopeful that he'll be able to play by the end of the week," Riley said.
Besides Cooks, Agnew and Ward there will be at least seven other true freshmen to play this season, Riley said. That means 10 of the 70 players on the travel squad are true freshmen.
The other seven are defensive end Dylan Wynn, linebacker Josh Williams, linebacker Jabral Johnson, safety Peter Ashton, safety Tyrequek Zimmerman, linebacker DJ Welch and place-kicker Trevor Romaine.
"We have good young talent on this team, but that's pretty high for the Beavers," Riley said.
As of Tuesday morning, about 2,200 tickets at $35 each were left for Saturday's season opener against Sacramento State. OSU has sold 25,036 season tickets, the second-most to last year's roughly 26,900.