Senior Tyrequek Zimmerman has a reputation as a tackling machine from his spot at free safety.
Zimmerman led Oregon State last season with 104 total tackles.
He has been playing since his freshman season, but in all that time Zimmerman had never come up with an interception.
Zimmerman had two picks in the third quarter for the Beavers in their 29-14 win over Portland State.
After each one, fellow safety Ryan Murphy rushed over to make a playful tackle on his teammate.
“He’s like a brother to me, so I was very proud of him,” Murphy said.
“On defense, unless you make a big hit, get an interception or a sack, you really don’t get seen. We know that as defensive players. That’s why his two interceptions, they were special. That’s why I wanted to go celebrate with him.”
Zimmerman overheard a conversation between Murphy and outside linebacker Michael Doctor about the Vikings running a double pass, which led to the first pick.
Sure enough, the quarterback flipped a backwards pass to Darnell Adams, who lofted the ball downfield.
“That’s how I jumped it,” Zimmerman said. “Because I saw the split and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s a double pass.’ That’s how I jumped the pass.”
It wasn’t the most graceful of interceptions.
Zimmerman stepped in front of the receiver and went up high for the ball, then crashed to the turf.
“I thought I was going to get it with two hands, but I jumped too early because the ball was in the air too long and I was just pick-hungry,” Zimmerman said.
“I just tipped it to myself, I had so much focus on the ball by the time it came down to my hands.”
The Beavers took over on their 40 and marched in for a field goal.
On the second interception, it looked like the ball was underthrown and Zimmerman caught it in stride and sprinted 28 yards to the PSU 16. That drive also resulted in a field goal.
“That one, I was just out there lurking,” Zimmerman said. “I was just reading the quarterback. He didn’t put that much elevation on his ball. I just went over and got it.
“I had a chance to score, just a couple of blocking issues, but it was cool.”
The Beavers brought Zimmerman in as a wide receiver, but he made the move to safety during fall camp of his freshman year.
Zimmerman said he wanted to switch because he saw the lack of depth on defense at safety.
“At first, I was just an offensive guy, so I liked scoring and all the hype about offense and this and that, but now I’m on defense and I’ve got to stop that,” he said.
He wound up playing in 12 games and led OSU with eight tackles on special teams.
He was a starter by his sophomore season, stepping in when Anthony Watkins was sidelined with an injury.
He was fourth on the team with 63 tackles, but no interceptions then or last season.
There were, however, a couple close calls.
The first came during his sophomore season against Washington State.
“I jumped it, but it was too short and it kind of hit my finger,” he said.
Then there was a shot at one in the Cal game last season.
“It was basically like what happened with my first pick, but this time I went up with two and a guy hit my arm,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman is primed for a strong senior season, with or without more interceptions.
“He’s a great player. Instinctive, smart, aggressive,” Murphy said. “That’s what you want to see in a safety.