Losing some recruiting battles will happen when you play with the big boys.
However, the Oregon State football team stayed in the game.
The Beavers signed one of their better recruiting classes Wednesday, but lost out on some athletes who could have made it the most highly regarded group of new players in their history.
Four-star Corvallis High offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo highlighted a 24-man group that was ranked No. 37 in the nation and 10th in the Pacific-12 Conference.
The Beavers went into the day ranked No. 27 in the country and seventh in the Pac-12, but couldn’t secure three players, including a four-star safety who went to USC.
“For a lot of it you don’t know what’s going to happen,” coach Mike Riley said. “But it truly is a great day to add names to the football roster. It’s a major deal to us. Countless hours were spent on this class.”
The Beavers needed to rebuild their offensive line, and were able to sign seven linemen. Seumalo and junior college transfer Stan Hasiak will be looked at to play, and possibly start, their first season.
That’s unusual at OSU, where linemen are typically redshirted so they can develop.
Hasiak was a four-star recruit out of Hawaii in 2008 and went to UCLA. He had academic trouble in his two seasons and played last year at Mt. San Antonio College.
“He’s done everything he has to do in JC and Stan is looking for a new life,” Riley said. “We are getting him at a good time in his life. And we knew about him when we recruited him out of high school.”
Signing defensive backs turned into a drama. At one point there were eight committed, including four cornerbacks. It turned out only four signed and only one, Tyler Hasty from Newcastle, Wash., is an experienced cornerback.
Two changed their minds before signing day and two decided against OSU on Wednesday. Longtime committed recruit Cleveland Wallace picked Washington, following former OSU secondary coach Keith Heyward, who left last month to join the Huskies.
“It may have had something to do with the timing of it when a coach leaves, but we’ve moved on to the next thing,” Riley said. “I like the defensive backs we have.”
Four-star safety Devian Shelton signed with USC when the Trojans swooped in this week. USC was Shelton’s dream school.
“I would have liked to get another corner,” Riley said. “Things go one way or another and kids have choices. That’s the only thing that happened today that was a disappointment.”
The only defensive lineman the Beavers signed is Noke Tago from Pago Pago, America Samoa. He’s a 6-foot-3, 290-pounder who has played only one season of organized football.
OSU signed two players from American Samoa with linebacker Rommel Mageo being the other. They are both greyshirt candidates for enrolling in the winter.
“It was not a priority as far as numbers,” Riley said about recruiting defensive linemen. “It became an offensive linemen year in recruiting. We recruited some defensive linemen, but not many and we were very selective.”
The defensive lineman who got away was Calvin Tonga from Arizona Western College. He decided late Tuesday night he was going to Colorado State instead.
OSU signed experienced linebackers Dyllon Mafi from Laney College in Oakland, Calif., and Cade Cowdin from College of the Desert in Palm Desert, Calif.
Both could play significantly in the fall. Cowdin is already on campus and Mafi will join the team in the summer.
“They can run and hit, and are really physical players,” Riley said. “They fit what we look for in style.”
One curiosity in the class is the signing of place-kicker Garrett Owens from Arroyo Grande, Calif. The Beavers already have Trevor Romaine, a sophomore next season, on scholarship.
Owens is expected to greyshirt and probably redshirt. That means OSU would carry two active kickers on scholarship for one season. Then again, Owens could beat out Romaine, who missed seven field goals last season.
“I thought he was going to be really good, and I think he’ll be a great addition to our program,” Riley said of Owens. “I saw this kid and I didn’t want to let him go. Garrett Owens recognized the coaching of (special teams coach) Bruce Read and how we handle special teams. They get coached all day long and are developed.”
Linebacker Caleb Saulo from Kent, Wash., and tight end Caleb Smith from Renton, Wash., plan to graduate high school early and enroll at OSU for the spring term.
They will be able to work out with the Beavers during spring practice and compete for playing time this fall.
OSU must now figure out its roster. The Beavers only have 13 open scholarship positions at the moment, and are nine over the 85-scholarship limit.
“There will be some greyshirts in this group, but in general we hit the numbers we needed to,” Riley said. “We wanted to get more athletes, and we did.”