One lesson the Oregon State football team learned last year was productive defensive tackles lead to stopping the run.
The Beavers finished third in the Pac-12 and 27th nationally allowing 129.46 yards a game.
Seniors Castro Masaniai and Andrew Seumalo were at the center of the line, but have finished their eligibility.
Needing to find replacements, the Beavers went the junior college route to replenish the defensive tackles, bringing in Edwin Delva and Siale Hautau this spring. Kyle Peko will join the team in the fall.
“Things are going pretty good so far,” Delva said at the midpoint of spring practice. “I’m just trying to learn everything to keep up with everybody. It’s a big transition. The first week was overwhelming. It was everything I needed to do. It was way different from what I have been doing.”
Delva and Hautau are using the early start to the season this spring to learn the playbook and what’s needed of them.
Once that’s figured out, they are expected to make an impact in the fall.
“They’ve had two years of experience so attacking the line of scrimmage should be normal to them,” defensive line coach Joe Seumalo said. “Then (when) you start throwing things at them, it slows the tempo down a bit. It’s always where you have to be careful and don’t give them too much too fast.”
Both new tackles quickly learned that Seumalo is a stickler for the details, from where they line up and what technique to use.
They’re glad they can figure out the problems in the spring and be ready for the season.
“It’s very different here,” Delva said. “The speed is way faster. I’m not used to the speed yet. But I’ll be fine. I just have to get stronger in the offseason.”
Hautau has already suffered a setback as he broke his left hand last week, cutting his spring practice short.
“I’m feeling good and trying to lay off my hand, get in shape and get healthy,” Hautau said. “It’s kind of hard watching these boys and studying the plays without being out there.”
Coach Mike Riley expects Hautau to recover from the minor surgery in time for training camp in August and then catch up.
The injury happened when his hand was caught in an offensive lineman’s shoulder pads during a drill.
“I think they are doing well but it’s a work in progress,” Seumalo said. “They are good players trying to get acclimated in what we are doing with verbiage and the process of drills.”
Delva, a 6-foot-3, 290-pounder from Miami, played at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster, Calif. Rivals.com listed him as the No. 26 JC prospect in the nation.
Nearly 20 colleges such as Tennessee and Nebraska offered him a scholarship. Delva registered 66 tackles and 6.5 sacks in his two seasons at Antelope Valley.
“They have the same qualities — athletic, big and strong,” Seumalo said. “They are strong, powerful guys you want inside who can change direction and get to the ball.”
Hautau, a 6-1, 320-pounder from Ephraim, Utah, was rated by Rivals as the No. 65 junior college defensive tackle out of Snow College near Salt Lake City. BYU, Hawaii and Utah State were also after him.
His route to Corvallis took several turns. After earning all-state out of Skyline High, he planned to attend Weber State but decided to go to work for his father for a year.
Then he went on his two-year Mormon mission to Guatemala. Hautau came back and spent three years at Snow, so he has two years of eligibility left.
Seumalo recruited them because he liked their size and speed. Both have put on extra weight since signing day and lost some agility.
If they can get back to the condition Seumalo saw on their highlight videos, he believes they can anchor the line for the next two seasons.
“You brought them in because they look explosive, but they have to look like that here,” Seumalo said. “Right now there are all these things going on for them, but I like the progress. It’s good, but not great right now.”
Besides conditioning, Delva and Hautau expect extra playbook study will be needed after the spring.
“I feel a little pressure,” Delva said. “The two guys before were pretty good and leaders on the team. They have high expectations on me. It’s a little different from what I’ve had before.”