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Friday, October 19, 2012
Who will transform tomorrow?

By Kevin Gemmell

So far this space has been reserved for offensive and defensive skill players. Guys whose individual performances stand out. Often in the process, we fail to acknowledge an individual offensive lineman for the simple fact that individual's usually get lumped in as "the offensive line."

Well, tomorrow true freshman Isaac Seumalo faces the stiffest test of his young career when the Oregon State center and the Beavers host the Utah Utes. And we're putting the 6-foot-4, 290-pound youngster on the spot.

Lining up opposite Seumalo will be Star Lotulelei, all 320 pounds of him. He's a consensus top 10 draft pick -- some have even put him in the top three -- and he's every offensive coordinator's primary concern at the point of attack.

Seumalo will be making his sixth straight start, and he's already battle-tested having faced good defensive fronts from Wisconsin, UCLA and BYU. But those teams don't have a Lotulelei. No one does.

If you watched the USC-Utah game, you saw in the first couple of minutes how disruptive he can be to centers, and USC's Khaled Holmes is one of the best in the country. He and Holmes battled it out in one of the better lineman v. lineman slugfests in the country this year.

Seumalo's importance this week can't be overstated enough. Aside from the fact that the Beavers are off to their best start since 1939 and ranked No. 8 in the BCS standings, they have a quarterback who is making just his second career start. Cody Vaz showed plenty in the game at BYU that he's more than capable of running the Oregon State offense. BYU's defensive front is good -- but again -- no one has a Lotulelei.

This year Seumalo became the first true freshman center to start for Oregon State since 1978. His brother Andrew is a team captain on the defensive line and his father, Joe, is OSU's defensive line coach. So he knows a little something about defensive linemen.

Considered the jewel of Oregon State's 2012 recruiting class, the pressure is on the true freshman to play the best game of his career against one of the most dominant defensive players in the country.

Time to grow up.