Jordan Choukair

Jordan Choukair was 12 for 19 on field goal attempts last season and made all 30 of his extra points.

Jordan Choukair had himself a day kicking in last week’s scrimmage at Summit High in Bend.

The Oregon State junior went 6 for 6 on field goals, including booting two from beyond 50 yards. He hit from 32, 47, 48, 52, 22 and 54, the last to end the scrimmage.

That performance prompted coach Jonathan Smith to describe Choukair as a weapon, one the Beavers could certainly use this football season.

“I’m comfortable within 55 no matter where I’m at,” Choukair said on Tuesday after practice for Saturday’s season opener at No. 5 Ohio State. “It was nice being up in Bend and a little bit of elevation and the ball was flying.”

Choukair was 12 for 19 last season with a long of 49 and he hit all 30 of his extra-point attempts. He was 0 for 4 from beyond 50 yards.

Choukair said his biggest improvement from last season to this is with the mental aspect of the game.

“Mentally I think I’m way stronger than I was last year and I think that’s the biggest thing, especially as a kicker,” he said.

It wasn’t that Choukair necessarily struggled with that aspect a season ago.

“I didn’t think about it last year and I felt positive and everything last year but coming into this year I could feel the difference,” he said. “Just going out there I felt ready to go.”

Hearing Smith voice publicly his confidence in him is big for Choukair.

“It’s huge to have your head coach have so much confidence in you,” he said. “That obviously puts confidence in myself, so that’s big.”

Choukair is also a bit stronger, having worked with strength and conditioning coach Mike McDonald on a program designed specifically for him.

“I think it’s a bit of a change but it’s big for me because that’s something I can focus on, some different things that my body will benefit me as a kicker,” he said.

Nebraska transfers

Oregon State announced on Wednesday that former Nebraska linebacker Avery Roberts has joined the team.

Roberts, a 6-foot-1 linebacker, played in 12 games as a freshman last season with four tackles on special teams.

He played under Trent Bray, Oregon State’s new linebackers coach.

According to 247Sports, Roberts was the No. 6 inside linebacker coming out of high school, while Rivals.com had him as the No. 8 outside linebacker and No. 83 overall player nationally.

Roberts must sit out the season.

Later Wednesday, Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports tweeted that Roberts' former teammate at Nebraska, quarterback Tristan Gebbia, will also be heading to Oregon State.

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Gebbia, a redshirt freshmen, withdrew from classes on Monday, two days after he learned Adrian Martinez would be the Cornhuskers' starter this season.

Smith had recruited Gebbia when he was coaching at Washington. 

Gebbia must sit out this season and will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

Workhorse back

Artavis Pierce has the goal of staying healthy this season. If he is able to do that, he could see a lot of action.

But the Beavers may not need him to take the majority of the carries with the emergence of true freshman Jermar Jefferson during camp.

“I know we want to get those guys some touches and just kind of see who runs with it,” offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren said. “If we have a guy we really feel like is at that next level and we can give him that many carries I’d love to see him get that rhythm.”

Pierce had 68 carries for 323 yards and one touchdown while playing behind Ryan Nall. He rushed 98 times for 523 yards and four scores as a true freshman in 2016.

Tackling improvement

Defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar wasn’t all that pleased with the tackling he saw early in camp.

Has that improved?

"We’ll see,” he said Wednesday. “We haven’t had to tackle Ohio State running backs and receivers yet. I think in practice against our own team we’ve certainly gotten better from the first scrimmage to the last scrimmage and the few live sessions we’ve had in practice. … Obviously we’re going to be going against some really good athletes and try to tackle them in open space now."

Back home

Tibesar spent the last three seasons at Wisconsin so opening against a Big Ten team must feel pretty normal.

"This is really kind of going back home I guess for me,” he said. “It’s going to be a great challenge. The ‘Shoe is a great environment, it’s kind of one of the cathedrals of college football. I think our players will be excited and feed off the energy that’s going to be there and hopefully we can go out there and put on a good show.”

Family time

Junior linebacker Andrzej Hughes-Murray will have familiar faces in attendance for Saturday’s game, making for a little added excitement.

“A lot of my dad’s side of the family is from there so I’ve got like 15-20 people coming to the game,” he said.

Are they going to be wearing orange and black?

“Absolutely, absolutely,” Hughes-Murray said. 

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Sports Editor

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