The top 10 Oregon State football players you need to know for the 2016 season.
WR Victor Bolden, Sr.
Bolden is one of the more incendiary weapons in the Pac-12. There was just no way of telling in 2015, when the rest of the offense thwarted the playmaker’s potential to become the second coming of Brandin Cooks in Corvallis. Bolden is a 5-9, 181-pound do-it-all jackrabbit, with tremendous speed and elusiveness. However, last year the Beavers’ best weapon managed just 646 yards and three scores from scrimmage. Bolden did however return a kick and a punt back for six.
OT Sean Harlow, Sr.
When Harlow injured his ankle late last October, Oregon State lost one of its most valuable offensive players. He’s a veteran of 28 career starts, who appeared headed toward All-Pac-12 consideration in 2015 before going down. And he’s a valued leader as well, earning a captain nod from head coach Gary Andersen. The 6-4, 298-pound Harlow’s calling card is his ability to create daylight for the Beaver backs.
WR Jordan Villamin, Jr.
Villamin’s output improved in 2015, no small feat considering the ineffectiveness of the quarterback play. Literally and statistically, the 6-5, 232-pound athlete was the biggest of Oregon State’s big-play pass-catchers, turning 43 receptions into 660 yards and five touchdowns. He brings tight end size to the outside, yet has the loping stride to get behind DBs. And he showcased soft hands to go along with the physicality to beat defenders on 50/50 balls tossed into traffic.
QB Darell Garretson, Jr.
Nothing is certain at this point, but after Garretson was named a captain for 2015 there’s a good chance he’ll be the opening day starter when Oregon State travels to Minnesota. Head coach Gary Andersen had Garretson at Utah State and knows what he can do for an offense. At only 6-0 and 208 pounds, he won’t physically wow opponents, but he’s a mature and experienced quarterback, with a knack for making plays. In 13 career appearances as an Aggie, Garretson completed 217-of-344 passes for 2,586 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
LB Caleb Saulo, Sr.
Saulo will be expected to handle an even bigger role in 2015 now that star Rommel Mageo has elected to transfer out of Corvallis. Saulo is a returning starter with experience inside and outside. A year ago, he ranked second to Mageo with 69 stops, despite sitting out a weekend. Quicker than he is stout, the 6-1, 236-pound Saulo is at his best when operating out in space.
S Devin Chappell, Sr.
Chappell has been a solid pickup for the Beavers who mined him from Western Oregon. After sitting out 2014 to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, he quickly displayed leadership and an enforcer’s mentality. The 6-2, 204-pound Chappell, now an OSU captain, registered 43 tackles as an eight-game starter in 2015. And the staff is convinced that the best is still ahead for No. 26.
RB Ryan Nall, Soph.
It’s difficult to pin a position on Nall, because he does so many things well. He arrived as an H-back, can play some tight end and rushed for 455 yards and three scores when a need arrived in the backfield. In fact, in the Civil War with Oregon, he exploded for 174 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Nall is a bruising 6-2, 235-pounder who’s going to prominently fit into the attack this year.
OT Dustin Stanton, Sr.
Stanton is a converted tight end who has made a nice transition to the offensive line. Part of the move necessitated beefing up to 6-6 and 304 pounds, though his footwork remains above average. At this stage, Stanton, who was named a captain in the offseason, is better at opening holes than protecting the quarterback, which has been an offseason objective.
CB Treston Decoud, Sr.
Well-traveled, including stops at Chadron State and Northwest Mississippi Community College, Decoud has finally found a home in Corvallis. As a Beaver, he started eight of his nine games in 2015, chipping in 50 tackles and five pass breakups. By cornerback standards, Decoud is an above average tackler, thanks in large part his 6-3 and 210-pound frame. He has a shot this year to grab the attention of all-league voters and big league scouts.
LB Jonathan Willis, Soph.
The Beavers may have signed a cornerstone player when they went all the way to Tulsa to land Willis. He enjoyed a solid debut in the rotation at outside linebacker a year ago. Despite only starting four games, Willis was third on the team with 67 stops, including 3.5 for minus yards and two sacks. At 6-1 and 228 pounds, he’s basically a hard-hitting strong safety, with the speed to contribute on blitzes and in pass coverage.