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OSU Football offense fights for yard gains against the OSU Football defense at the Spring Preview Game in Reser Stadium on April 20. 

Oregon State Football is fast approaching, meaning it is finally time to speculate about the season and the team. With kick off a mere month and a half away until the Beavers’ first game versus the Oklahoma State Cowboys, starting positions are being discussed and players are being brought into the spotlight. Six transfers from other universities will face the opportunity or obstacle of fighting for a starting position in the coming weeks as they work to establish their spot on the team. 

Four of the Beavers’ six transfers represent two positions including quarterback and linebacker. For a team that has had points of inconsistency with a starting quarterback in the last few seasons, adding more players to the mix may be interesting. Additionally, the team has faced backlash for its defensive weaknesses in recent seasons, meaning a new linebacker could prove crucial. 

When considering these transfer athletes, it is important to understand their status as redshirt athletes. A player’s redshirt describes an athlete not participating in games for one season in order to extend their eligibility by one year. Athletes can elect to redshirt one year due to low playing time. Medical redshirts due to injury must be approved by the NCAA. Aside from medical redshirts, athletes are allowed one redshirt for eligibility reasons during their collegiate career. 

Starting with quarterback, two transfers will compete against two current players for the starting position. Nebraska redshirt sophomore transfer quarterback Tristan Gebbia and Eastern Washington redshirt sophomore transfer quarterback Nick Moore are up against OSU redshirt senior quarterback Jake Luton and OSU junior quarterback Jack Colletto for the starting positions. 

These four players must fight for the starting position. Luton was one of two main starters for the Beavers during the 2018 season, but struggled with staying healthy. Luton played in eight games and had five starts for the season. Former OSU quarterback Connor Blount was additionally an alternate quarterback for the Beavers during the 2018 season with six starts, however Blount transferred to Eastern Kentucky following the season’s end. Coletto became a backup and started in one game with eight games played total in the season. 

Without Blount, Luton would seem to be the choice as the starter for the season. A seasoned player, Luton can prove to be an asset should he remain healthy. In contrast, Gebbia is likely the strongest opposing candidate for the starting position. 

A recruit under former OSU Football head coach Mike Riley during his stint as head coach for Nebraska, Gebbia has yet to have playing time with a college football program as he redshirted his true freshman season. He was well-sought after following high school as he was listed as the No. 115 overall prospect by Rivals.com and was among the top 25 players out of California. 

Gebbia’s successful high school career ended with a senior season that included 61 touchdowns for the season, averaging 4.1 touchdowns per game. In contrast, Moore faces a longer battle to the starting position than Gebbia. Moore threw 19 touchdowns during his senior season in high school, averaging 1.9 touchdowns per game. Therefore, it seems highly likely that Gebbia and Luton will be the final two in the discussion for the starting quarterback position. 

When considering linebacker, starters and potential starters face pressure. Several games proved difficult for the Beavers’ defense last season, particularly in guarding against rushing. The NCAA currently has the Beavers’ rushing defense ranked at No. 128 out of 129 in the country for all FBS football teams. 

With strong prospects verbally committed to OSU for the 2020 season, including highly sought-after junior college defensive end Alex Lemon from San Diego Mesa College, the Beavers’ defense must show leaps of improvement to ensure their signing in December following the end of the 2019 season. Some of this pressure falls on the season’s upcoming linebackers to maintain pressure on both wide receivers and running backs. 

Redshirt junior Hamilcar Rashed Jr., senior Shemar Smith, and senior Andrzej Hughes-Murray were three continued starters in the linebacker position for the Beavers last season. Both Rashed Jr. and Smith played in 12 games and started in 10 games while Hughes-Murray played in 12 games but started in 11. Combined, the three had a total of 94 solo tackles with Rashed Jr. at 30, Smith at 46 and Hughes-Murray at 18. Smith also accounted for one of the team’s total of three defensive interceptions for the season. 

For Oklahoma redshirt sophomore transfer linebacker Addison Gumbs and Nebraska redshirt sophomore transfer linebacker Avery Roberts, they must prove their spot in comparison to the seasoned players. However, they must also prove their ability to help improve the team’s defense in the long-run to maintain the Beavers’ defensive verbal commits. Gumbs played in four games and had four solo tackles as a true freshman for the Oklahoma Sooners. Roberts had appearances in all 12 games that spanned his year as a true freshman and had one solo tackle for the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the season. 

Both linebackers were well recognized following their high school careers with Rivals.com slating Gumbs as the No. 65 player and Roberts as the No. 83 player. Gumbs additionally participated in the U.S. Army All-American football game. Considering the team’s overall ranked defense, Nebraska is slated at No. 94 and Oklahoma is slated at No. 114. Gumbs was seen as a better linebacker coming out of highschool, yet Roberts had more playing time despite lower stats for a better defense. 

The toss up between these two players will likely come down to who is more committed to who can prove more long-term development and growth. It is also likely that one of the two may get a few starts, but it is highly likely that both will get some form of playing time. Factors such as chemistry with the defense and leadership may determine if either will be able to gain a spot as a starter for the Beavers’ defense. 

Other discussions about changes, transfer and players for the rest of the Beavers’ football team will be considered and discussed at later dates as the season approaches. 

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