Converted Ducks fans are on OSU's roster

2009-11-24T23:45:00Z Converted Ducks fans are on OSU's rosterBy Cliff Kirkpatrick, Gazette-Times Reporter Corvallis Gazette Times

Damola Adeniji, Markus Wheaton and Burke Ellis have a distinct position as the Oregon State football team prepares for the Civil War.

They are the only admitted former Oregon fans on the roster.

With 32 Beavers from the state of Oregon, you might figure there would be more former Oregon fans on the team.

"I don't think there are that many," said receiver Taylor Kavanaugh, who is from Portland. "Dom might be the only one. And if they were Ducks fans, I don't think they would fess up to it now."

The Civil War makes for interesting dinner conversation among families with split loyalties. However, this game hits closer to home for Adeniji, who grew up in Eugene and sat in the stands at Autzen Stadium cheering on the Ducks.

Life for a child growing up in that town is filled with yellow and green just as much as orange and black is for youngsters in Corvallis.

As he formed his dreams of playing college football, gaudy uniforms were part of the vision.

"Growing up I went to quite a few Ducks games," Adeniji said. "I would put myself in the Ducks fan category for a while."

Ellis' father played for Oregon from 1979-82. His family grew up following the Ducks and he attended games in Autzen with his father.

When the time came to choose a college, the walk-on offensive lineman from Canby High felt more comfortable with the Beavers and bucked tradition.

"I wouldn't have expected to be in this situation a few years ago," Ellis said. "It was just the coaches, players and Corvallis. I like it better here than in Eugene."

Offensive tackle Mike Remmers of Portland bled orange from the womb, and says everyone on the team who were Oregon fans converted.

"Burke did, and it's a good thing, a good thing for him," Remmers said.

Wheaton is from Chandler, Ariz., but the freshman receiver has ties to the Ducks. His cousin, Kenny Wheaton, was a star with Oregon in 1994-96 before moving on to the NFL.

Both schools were after the younger Wheaton out of high school, but he kept an open mind in the recruiting process. His family will be at the game and he changed their alliance.

"I used to love them," Wheaton said. "When he played there they were my team. Ever since then I went on my own."

This is the third Civil War for Adeniji in an OSU uniform. The senior receiver didn't play a significant role the previous two, but now he's the starting split end.

Adeniji is fully ingrained in the way of the Beavers, and eager to make an impact in the rivalry game on Oregon's field.

There will be a large contingent of family and friends from the Eugene area at the game with split loyalty.

"I've talked to a lot of people on Facebook and stuff like that," Adeniji said. "They say they will sup-port me and be rooting for me, but they hope we lose. It's going to be a good game. It will be one of those games that we'll be on the road, but it will feel like home for me."

Being in this position puts extra pressure on him. He hopes to focus on the game and not get caught up in the situation.

Adeniji knows of the harassment fans give opposing teams, especially the Beavers, since he was one of them. He expects the taunts to be personal toward him.

"I have a lot to prove in that game," Adeniji said. "A lot of people are going to be watching me, personally. It's a big game for me."

Adeniji wasn't looked at by the Ducks, or any major college, out of South Eugene High. He played at the junior college level, excelled and still didn't get any offers.

So he wants to show the Ducks what they missed. Adeniji is eighth in the Pacific-10 Conference in receiving with 47 catches for 672 yards and four touchdowns. His yardage ranks sixth.

Adeniji turned into a reliable secondary receiver. With his 6-foot-3, 213-pound size he could make an interesting pro prospect with the proper offseason workout plan.

"I have a lot to prove because I chose here," Adeniji said. "Regardless if (the Ducks) offered me or not, I would have probably still ended up here. Just the fact I'm here, crossed over and I'm wearing a Beavers uniform, I have to go hard."

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