Riley gets redemption with 5 DBs
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 05:02
A year ago on National Signing Day when Mike Riley went up on the podium for his annual press conference, there was some obvious disappointment.
The 2012 recruiting class saw four-star cornerback Devian Shelton bail on his commitment to OSU for Southern California. Three-star cornerback Cleveland Wallace also bolted from the Beavers to join former OSU secondary coach Keith Heyward in Washington.
This year, everything came through on the defensive backs front. The Beavers nabbed four-star (according to Rivals) cornerback Dashon Hunt (their highest-rated recruit), and three-star corners Charles Okonkwo and Steven Nelson (a junior college transfer from the College of the Sequoias).
“The DB core that’s coming in is going to be a really good class,” Hunt said. “I’m excited. I talked to a couple of the guys and we’re all excited to get up there and start playing.”
OSU also bolstered its safeties by adding three-stars Brandon Arnold and Justin Strong.
It’s no coincidence that the six-win turnaround from 2011 was a factor in landing the amount of solid recruits the Beavers got Wednesday. But the coaching staff is always a reason recruits come to Corvallis.
“The success that they had this year boosted [my interest] a lot, and then the main attraction was the coaching staff and Coach Riley,” Arnold said. “The majority of them … have been together for 10 to 12 years, that was good to see instead of coaching staffs switching around every year.”
With this recruiting class, gone are the days of switching offensive players to the secondary (Malcolm Marable, Jovan Stevenson, Tyrequek Zimmerman, Peter Ashton, to name a few in the last two years).
“That’s one of the things I’m most pleased with,” Riley said. “Recruiting corners, we haven’t done that well. And this year we came through with guys we looked at as corners, recruited as corners, and they signed as corners.”
Hunt, out of Westlake, Calif., comes in as the only four-star recruited and is rated as the 25th best defensive back by Rivals.
“I feel like I’m a really physical corner, but at the same time, I love going for that ball,” Hunt said. “I’m not afraid to come down and make a hit or to compete in a jump ball. I like to be versatile and work on both power and speed. I’m hoping to come in and hopefully make an impact for the team.”
With 2012 First Team All-American Jordan Poyer now gone at corner, Hunt could be seen as the next Poyer.
“I really like [Poyer’s] gameplay and I’m hoping I can be an impact player like he was,” Hunt said. “That’s kind of my goal right now.”
This group is likely going to be looked at as the future of the secondary for the Beavers, with Poyer gone, and cornerbacks Rashaad Reynolds and Sean Martin are both seniors this year.
“We have a lot of competition coming in that we think are going to be players,” Riley said.
Warner Strausbaugh, sports editor