April 10, 2009

Homegrown talent key to Beavers success

Since the football program began its winning ways a decade ago, the Beavers have used homegrown talent as part of their success.

Going as far back as 1998, with offensive linemen Keith DiDemenico and Aaron Koch, both from the Salem-Keizer area, the Beavers have made sure to keep the best recruits from the Beaver State at home. Chris Gibson, Jared Cornell, Mike Fessler, James Allen, and Jake Cookus all played pivotal roles during the Fiesta Bowl run in 2000.

In the following years, it was Derek Anderson, Bill Swancutt, Tim Euhus, Mitch Meeuwson, Kirk Ylenimi, Matt Brock, Mike Hass, Joe Newton and Roy Schuening. And then last season, it was pass rush specialist Slade Norris, playmaker Bryant Cornell, and ball hawk Greg Laybourn that helped the Beavers get one game away from making the Rose Bowl.

Now in preparation for the 2009 campaign, one that could see OSU win at least nine games for the fourth straight year, in-state names might be the key ingredient to that special mark.

One spot that Oregon State is losing a lot of numbers is at wide receiver, with All-American Sammie Stroughter and Shane Morales both graduating. The duo accounted for almost 1,800 yards receiving and 15 touchdowns. While speedster James Rodgers returns, two starting nods are up for grabs with many possible candidates.

One veteran that could solidify a spot is Damola Adeniji, who played junior college ball in California but hails from Eugene. The senior saw time last year on special teams and in the rotation at wideout and has improved every year since he joined the team as a walk-on in 2007. An example of his potential came last season at home against Washington State, when he blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone for six and then later caught his only pass of the season from 39 yards out for another touchdown.



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