Pac-12: Mike Cavannaugh

Philipp ready to be big man on campus

August, 19, 2009
8/19/09
10:23
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- At Oregon State, offensive linemen show up with baby fat and cherry cheeks and position coach Mike Cavanaugh breaks them down and then -- slowly -- builds them back up.

That won't happen with true freshman Michael Philipp for two reasons.

For one, well, just look at him. He's 6-foot-3, 313 pounds and he can dance.

"He's as close to a ready-made lineman as we've ever got," coach Mike Riley said.

The second reason Philipp is the likely starting left tackle for the Beavers is Timi Oshinowo (knee) and Wilder McAndrews (wrist) are dealing with injury issues.

Philipp looks the part, but playing the part is another matter. While most of the battle for a receiver or running back or cornerback is physical -- is he ready athletically? -- it's far more mental for an offensive lineman.

Philipp is like an action star. He looks like he can bust heads, but he's got to learn to deliver the line -- "hasta la vista, baby!" -- just right.

"The whole game is different," Philipp said. "Everything is faster. You're no longer the strongest guy anymore. The playbook! In high school, you just call the play. In college, there are so many pre-snap adjustments, it's hard to get use to."

Philipp is hardly brash. He's soft-spoken and calls it a "blessing" to be expected to start.

But Riley thinks he's up to the job because he's shown poise and competitiveness. After getting whipped the first days in full pads, Philipp has gained on his adversaries every practice.

"I was just getting used to the speed of the game," he said. "And I was going against some real good D-ends."

Philipp said Kevin Frahm's bull rush has given him the most trouble. After being genuinely pleased with that news, Frahm called Philipp "special."

"I have no doubt that Mike is going to be good," Frahm said.

Philipp isn't a typical Beavers recruit. He was no diamond in the rough. He was a shimmering diamond sitting on black velvet for all to covet. Every Pac-10 team other than USC offered him a scholarship.

Philipp said he chose Oregon State because he liked Riley and knew Cavanaugh's reputation for building linemen.

"I just felt comfortable here," he said. "I know [Cavanaugh] can make you better, best you can be."

Of course, all bets are off when the lights go on. The game will get even faster for Philipp when the season starts.

Nervous?

Sure. So what?

"I think it's normal to get nervous," he said. "I got nervous my senior year of high school even though I was the biggest dude on the field."

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