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February 13, 2013

What We Learned on Signing Day--Part 2

Oregon State's 2013 signing class consisting of 25 new Beaver players is in the books. Some of these players will contribute in 2013, others will be redshirted with an eye towards 2014. Here are five more things we learned from signing day:

6. Home isn't necessarily where the heart is:

The fact OSU didn't sign a single player from the state of Oregon isn't all that shocking, really. The Beavers signed just two players from the state of Oregon in 2012 and one in 2011, only 16 in the past seven classes combined. The most players Oregon State has signed from its home state in the past seven signing classes is five in 2009, including a little known two-star defensive back prospect named Jordan Poyer.

But anywhere from zero to two Oregon prospects is typical in most years. Only five players from the state signed a letter of intent with a BCS school - three with the Ducks, one with Cal and one with Washington.

What separates this class from previous ones is the Beavers didn't sign a single prospect from the Pacific Northwest as the states of Oregon and Washington were both blanked. As usual, Mike Riley and his staff focused their efforts on California, signing 15 players from that state, up from 12 in the last two years.

The fewest number of California-based players Oregon State has signed in the last seven classes is nine. The peak of 17 came in 2007. Clearly, California means the same thing to the Pac-12 as the state of Florida does to the SEC and Texas to the Big 12. Coaches live by one mantra - you spend the majority of your time recruiting in those areas where the best players are.

"We tried to get a few guys here in Oregon," Riley said. "We recruited some hard and wanted them. But they elected to go someplace else, which is part of the deal. I don't feel too bad about that (no signees from Oregon) because I know what we put into it. We were able to cover our bases elsewhere.

'We've always maintained a large number of players from our state, which I have really enjoyed doing. But it doesn't always work out like that. Maybe we'll find more in Oregon next year. We always intend to study our state and go after it first."

7. Then again, sometimes you can go back to where it all begin:

Quarterback Kyle Kempt is officially listed as being from Massillon, OH, but he spent part of his youth in Oregon. He committed to Cincinnati a long time ago, but a funny thing happened on the way to signing a LOI with the Bearcats. Head coach Butch Jones left for Tennessee and Tommy Tuberville came aboard. Problem was, Tuberville wanted to bring along his own quarterback recruit. As a result, the 6-foot-5 Kempt, left high and dry in the recruiting process, returned to his roots and signed with the Beavers. His family once lived in a suburb of Portland before moving to Ohio.

"Our business is so volatile," Riley said. "A guy makes an early commitment and then the coaching staff changes underneath him. Maybe he doesn't fit exactly what the new school or the new coaching staff wants to do. They have another guy in mind. It's pretty hard on kids. It was fortunate for us because the recruitment of Kyle Kempt came back alive for us. We knew about him from the time he was Oregon. He had a lot of notoriety as a young kid. We had an interest early, but he committed to Cincinnati early."

8. Riley searches for prospects he believes will thrive in Corvallis:

Not everybody can play at Oregon State. Living and going to school in Corvallis requires a special kind of player, both athletically and academically. Riley and his staff search far and wide to find athletes with the right blend. As a result, they pass on a lot of players, but when they find the right ones, the result can be magical.

"Going into homes, I was personally impressed by the character of the families and the kids," Riley said. "I love the process which we've gone through. Our coaches did an outstanding job of recognizing talent. That's the first thing that draws you to a kid, his talent. Then, you have to find out who he is and see if he's the right guy."

9. The Beavers signed perhaps their best group of receivers in years:

Markus Wheaton's departure after a successful career left a huge void at the wide receiver spot. The good news is Brandin Cooks (67 receptions for 1,151 yards and five touchdowns) is back for another season and he'll have a talented supporting cast around him. The Beavers signed four skillful and fast wide receivers in Victor Bolden (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), Hunter Jarmon (Waco, Tex.), Jordan Villamin (Etiwanda, Calif.) and Walter Jones (Redlands, Calif.), all of whom could make a splash in the coming years.

"The receiving group in this class are all good football players," Riley said. "Some of them are possible fly sweep guys. Victor Bolden and Walter Jones are really good all-around players. Jordan Villamin (6- foot-4) is a big receiver. We like speed. The way this offense is designed, we play multiple personnel groups."

10. This recruiting class should continue to propel the Beavers up the Pac-12 ladder:

In terms of national and conference ranking, Oregon State's overall class didn't overwhelm most analysts (Rivals.com has the Beavers ranked No. 37 in the country), but Riley and his coaches do a masterful job taking less heralded players and developing them into stars.

"There are so many elements of Coach Riley that recruits love," Pac-12 analysts Adam Archuleta said on National Signing Day. "We kind of forget about them. Remember, he was in the National Football League for a little while as head coach of the San Diego Chargers. So he has that card that really helps with a lot of recruits. And he's not going anywhere. He has built Oregon State up for the second time. He and his family love being there."

The best example of that is Poyer. This class, together with Riley's coaching acumen and the players already on the ground in Corvallis, should keep the Beavers competitive in the Pac-12 for years to come.

"I have ultimate confidence in Mike Riley," Pac-12 analyst Rick Neuheisel said on National Signing Day. "I think he's as good as there is in the business as far as knowing who he is, knowing what to sell and going out there and preaching. This sets up well. They have two quarterbacks coming back. Oregon State is a force to be reckoned with for years to come. They've knocked on the door to the Rose Bowl before. This team is poised for big time things. They have a chance to be in the conversation again."


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