Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Biggest shoes to fill: Oregon State
By Kevin Gemmell
Starters in, starters out. That’s college football. Players’ eligibility expires, and they leave for the rest of their lives, whether that includes the NFL or not.
And they leave behind shoes of various sizes that need to be filled.
Our concern with this series? The biggest shoes -- in some cases Shaq-like size 23s.
Biggest shoes: Cornerback Jordan Poyer
The consensus All-American ranked first in the Pac-12 and second nationally in interceptions -- hauling in seven in 2012 and returning one for a touchdown. It's a tough call between him and wide receiver Markus Wheaton -- the school's all-time leading receiver. But the co-captain was so prolific in OSU's turnaround in 2012, finishing third in league in pass breakups per game (1.17). He finished with 51 tackles (34 solo) including five for a loss and a pair of sacks. He also forced a fumble and recovered another. There weren't many lockdown corners in the conference last year. Poyer was one of them.
Stepping in: Sean Martin or Steven Nelson
Martin seems like an obvious option. He filled in for Poyer last year when he missed the Arizona State game (and earned himself a coveted Pac-12 helmet sticker, making him the envy of everyone in Corvallis.) He appeared in 12 games last year and tallied 43 tackles (32 solo), including one for a loss. He also had two interceptions, five passes defended and he forced a fumble. He might look like the favorite, but JC transfer Steven Nelson -- a highly-regarded recruit from College of the Sequoias in Northern California -- is expected to push him. When Nelson signed in December, Mike Riley characterized him as a player "who will step into our program and compete immediately." ESPN RecruitingNation ranked him as the No. 1 JC cornerback in the nation and per his scouting report, he's a "smooth corner with good man-to-man skills."