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Brandon Kipper was no stranger to playing college football when he took the field for the first time for the Beavers last season.

Kipper, an offensive lineman, played in 11 games during his freshman season at Hawaii in 2017 before transferring to Oregon State.

Still, the opportunity he got to play and start in three of the final five games while using a redshirt season last season was valuable.

“It’s always fun when you get to step on the field,” Kipper said last Friday. “Obviously it wasn’t my first time playing college football but there is a big difference when you are coming into a new system to get on the field."

The biggest difference, he said, is pretty obvious: the speed of the game.

“You try hard to replicate that in practice, (but) you can’t always do it,” Kipper said. “But getting on the field and getting to go through this system in a game setting was huge. The speed and the rate you’ve got to be able to read things and know what you’re calls are, it’s big time. It was really helpful but moving on to this year and I’m really excited.”

While last season’s playing time was valuable for Kipper to gauge where he stands in understanding the schemes and concepts of the offense, it also helped to reaffirm what he needs to focus on the training camp.

“I feel like there’s every area of my game I took away and said I’m not there yet,” he admitted. “I need to move forward. I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress. Getting bigger and stronger was a big thing. I feel like I’m making gains in all the right directions, but for the most part ... I knew I needed to get better in every aspect of my game.”

The Beavers are excited about what a bulked up Kipper can do as they try to determine who will compose the starting offensive line when they open the season at home against Oklahoma State on Aug. 30.

Listed at 6-foot-6 and 278 in last season’s media guide, Kipper is now at 305.

“I gained quite a bit of weight which I’ve been trying to do for a while, something I needed to do,” Kipper said. “And the right weight, which is important. I feel good, I feel strong, I feel sturdy, which is something that I’ve always struggled with being the skinnier guy.

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“It’s nice being a little bit bigger but you’ve got to keep it at the right weight now.”

That added weight and strength was a site for sore eyes, said offensive line coach Jim Michalczik.

“You walk out at practice (last Thursday) and man you’ve got some arms on you,” he said of what he thought when he saw Kipper on the first day of camp. “It was pretty cool.”

Michalczik said Kipper loves football and is passionate about the game, as evidenced by the amount of film he watches.

The Beavers return just two starters on the line, so there are plenty of opportunities for Kipper to earn one of the vacant spots.

Regardless of if he is in the starting lineup or in a reserve role, Kipper thinks the Beavers have the makings of a strong group.

“It’s about how hard we work and I think that’s one area that we’ll be good at is we’re hard workers and we’ve got a group full of dudes who want to get better every single practice, every single rep, every single play,” he said. “As long as we keep that mentality, we keep grinding away, the sky’s the limit for us."

Lavaka, Togiai on list

Oregon State seniors Gus Lavaka and Noah Togiai made the cut on the first 2019 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year award watch list. They are among the 62 players to start in the list.

Lavaka has made 26 straight starts and has made 31 starts in 34 career games. He is also on the initial list for the Outland Trophy for the top interior lineman.

Togiai has played in 32 games, with 25 starts at tight end. He has 58 career receptions for 642 yards and is also on the watch list for the Mackay Award  for the top tight end.

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Sports Editor

Sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald