By KEVIN HAMPTON
By the end of the Alamo Bowl, Derrionte Freeney was sure he wanted to come to Oregon State.
Freeney decided to tune in because his wife was an Oregon State fan and he thought it would be a good game.
When Storm Woods raced into the open with a big run, Freeney was sold on the Beavers.
“When he broke that long run, I don’t think he took it all the way, but he broke it and it got me kind of pumped up about Oregon State,” Freeney said.
“Right after watching that game I set my mind to coming up here.”
There were a few obstacles.
Freeney was not a high school senior in the midst of the recruiting period.
Freeney played football for West Mesquite High in Dallas, Texas, and said he was recruited by Louisville, Iowa, Iowa State, Army and Navy, among others.
He had a different plan at the time.
“When I was in high school I had a couple offers but I kind of wanted to follow my big brother’s footsteps and join the military,” Freeney said. “So I enlisted in the Army when I was 18.”
Instead of fall camp, Freeney headed to basic training.
He wound up at Fort Lewis spending most of his time working in a motor pool.
It was at Fort Lewis where Freeney met his wife, Kerrina, who happened to be from Grand Ronde.
Freeney started having doubts about his decision. He found himself wishing that he had gone to college and played football.
“When I was watching college football I kind of felt like I belonged here playing football,” he said.
“Most everybody in the Army kept telling me, ‘Dude, you belong in sports, you belong in football.’ ”
Freeney decided to go for Oregon State.
“I knew that it was a good program, good coaching, a lot of college atmosphere and my wife went here,” he said.
One difficulty was putting together a highlight tape because it had been two years since he had played.
He managed to get one together and sent it out. Then he waited.
Freeney was working out in Texas when OSU coordinator of support services Gary Beck called and asked if he could make it to Corvallis for fall camp.
“This was in July and fall camp’s in August, so I was like, ‘Oh, snap, I’ve got to get on it,’ ” Freeney said.
“I told my wife about it and I left Texas the next day and we came here looking for an apartment.”
Kerrina is still active duty and spends the weekdays back at Fort Lewis while Freeney works to find his way as a walk-on offensive lineman.
Freeney has some athletic ability for his size, which is listed at 6-foot-3, 320 pounds. He said he’s now down to about 305.
There’s a long way to go before Freeney can use his speed on the field.
He knows he has to learn the plays and execute them consistently.
He also wants to get stronger.
“Build up some more muscle mass try to keep my 300 to 310 frame but look bigger than that,” he said. “Stronger and faster.”
Long term, Freeney would like to start, then try to become good enough to land some accolades and get a shot at the NFL.
He wants to get his degree before taking that next step.
“Everything builds up to the next one,” he said.