“Obum Gwacham, the project” is nearly complete.
The finishing touches are being done this spring with a few more details to iron out in August.
Then the sophomore wide receiver should be ready for action with the Oregon State football team.
Gwacham has made interesting fodder in what the offense could do with him. He’s a 6-foot-5, 224-pound standout high jumper.
Combine his height and leaping ability and he’s a mismatch for anyone trying to cover him.
“I am ready to do it,” Gwacham said. “I’m waiting for the day it starts happening, and it will happen. I feel like I’ve come pretty far.”
However, it took time for him to develop. Coach Mike Riley recruited Gwacham out of Ayala High in Chino Hills, Calif., as raw talent with a huge upside.
Gwacham was more of a track athlete who only started playing football as a freshman. So far his biggest impact at OSU is his high jumping over the last two springs.
His parents didn’t want him to start football too soon because he was so thin and they were afraid of injury. He even missed his junior season due to a broken collarbone.
Gwacham signed with the Beavers in 2009, but greyshirted since there were too many players on scholarship. He joined the team in the spring of 2010.
The extra time allowed him to bulk up, improve his speed and practice on his own, but he didn’t like the delayed start at first.
“My greyshirt year was terrible being at home and watching those games (on television),” Gwacham said. “I wanted to be in Corvallis with the team. I’m glad it is done with. At the time I didn’t agree with it. But now I see the upside of it and don’t regret greyshirting. Matter of fact, when I see other recruits who are offered that greyshirt deal, I tell them it’s going to be terrible that first fall but it will pay off.”
Gwacham hoped to progress faster than he did after he arrived, but he had so much to learn from getting off the line of scrimmage, losing the defender and running the route correctly.
And that was before he learned how to read the defense and adapt his route.
Gwacham redshirted his first year and was used sparingly last season. He caught eight passes for 147 yards.
He can look back and recall fondly his first year how he tripped over his own feet nearly every time he ran out for a pass.
“Now things have gotten better,” Gwacham said. “I’ve worked with (receivers) coach (Brent) Brennan a lot and my routes are a lot cleaner and better.”
Gwacham had been working at split end behind Markus Wheaton the last two years. Originally, Riley thought he could take over for him for the 2013 season.
When senior slot receiver Jordan Bishop was lost for his second straight spring practice with another ankle injury, Gwacham was moved to the inside receiver position just in case Bishop doesn’t return full speed.
Practice turns are taken at both spots so he can step into either position, but slot might be his future.
“Obum Gwacham has made a ton of plays this spring,” Riley said. “And I think he can play the slot well.”
Gwacham may at least be ready for part-time duty wherever he lines up this season. He could be used in various scenarios to take advantage of his height now that he knows what to do to get open.
“We’ll definitely have some plays made up just for him,” Brennan said.
Gwacham’s development may have taken some time, but he’s ready for the future. He has three years to be an impact player.
“He has come a long way,” Riley said. “I’m very excited about his next step, next season. He’s looking good in there. I’m pleased how he has learned in there and grown up.”