Beavers: Jonathan Smith impressed by Sam Vidlak's growth


The 2021 Oregon State Beavers spring football season came to a close Saturday afternoon, concluding in the team's annual Spring Game.

After the event, head coach Jonathan Smith said he was impressed with the growth of early-enrollee quarterback Sam Vidlak.

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"He's better [than a month ago]," said Coach Smith.

With Tristan Gebbia recovering from his season-ending hamstring injury and Ben Gulbranson out due to COVID-19 protocols, Vidlak joined Chance Nolan as the only two quarterbacks to receive reps Saturday. 

Vidlak ran with the two's in two-minute and RedZone drills where he made some nice passes, quite often to Champ Flemings. His calmness in the pocket impressed his head coach, who added Vidlak showed some ability to extend plays with his legs.

"How comfortable he was with some of the progressions, managing the game, the clock's running [and] he played with great poise," said Smith.

The Beavs head coach isn't the first coach to rave about the freshman from Hidden Valley. Offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren joined Talkin' Beavers last month and had more positive things to say.

"We're really excited about him. He's done some great things early in the spring for being a senior in high school right now, coming in early," said Lindgren.

"He's moved the ball with the tight opportunities he's had in there and he's made some throws that were pretty impressive for a young guy." 


Smith added Vidlak's youth makes his play during spring football even more impressive.

"He comes into these practices in spring ball with 95% of everyone he's playing with has had a fall camp or two or three, a spring ball, two or three of them, so they're more experienced,” Smith explained. “That's not always easy, to come from high school where you're the best player on your team and you're comfortable in your system having done it for a couple years, [now we] throw you into a new system, playing the most difficult position on the team playing against guys who have way more experience than you.

"To play that position, you need to know what all ten guys are doing."

Now, heading into the summer, Smith's eager to see how much Vidlak develops and if he will be able to push Gebbia and Nolan for an opportunity to start this season as a true freshman.

"He's gotten better from practice one to fifteen and now I think he's got a great opportunity to make a nice jump this summer because he's been exposed to these fifteen days of practice. To take advantage of it and shoot, compete in fall camp."

As a junior at Hidden Valley High School, Vidlak threw for 3,404 yards, 44 touchdowns and just three interceptions per MaxPreps, albeit against 4A competition before committing to Oregon State.