Oregon State football: What to know about the Beavers spring game

Oregon State football: What to know about the Beavers spring game

The Oregon State football team left the 2018 season with a lot of questions.

Putting their 2-10 season behind them, the Beavers will showcase their newly-improved defense, excellent depth at the receiver position and of course, the battle for starting quarterback on Saturday at the Oregon State Spring Game. 

Beavers fans can take in the team's annual scrimmage, which concludes Oregon State's spring practice period, before the season starts on August 30.

The QB race heats up

Jake Luton has looked sharp as of late and is the obvious frontrunner for the starting quarterback nod come August. Luton, who has started nine games for the Beavers since his first season due to injuries, was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA in June. In his time with Oregon State, Luton has passed for 2,513 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Tristan Gebbia split first-team reps with Luton in the Beavers last full practice ahead of this Saturday’s game. Gebbia was the first QB to take the field, connecting on two of his first three passes to I’Shawn Stewart. Luton took more snaps in team drills than Gebbia, but must step up in order to protect his role.

The spring game should give Beaver fans a clearer idea of which of the two players will be named starting quarterback for the 2019 season. The decision could be made as soon as the conclusion of spring camp.

Deep receiver depth on display

All Pac-12 Honorable Mentions Isaiah Hodgins and Trevon Bradford were both sidelined for the Dam City Showcase, but Oregon State’s receivers didn’t miss a beat. Keep your eyes on the young Beavers, who are vying for a spot in the highly-competive receiver group. 

Underclassmen Jesiah Irish and Anthony Gould made their presence known in Saturday’s showcase and emerged as game-changers. 5-foot-11, 172-pound Irish gave Beaver fans a glimpse of the future, speeding past the cornerback to catch a 32-yard touchdown pass from Jake Luton. Irish saw the field two times last season, but didn’t exceed the maximum four games to preserve his redshirt.

Gould also stood out on Saturday, turning a long catch and run into a 75-yard touchdown play. The 5-foot-10, 180 pounder out of West Salem has the explosiveness and speed to compete for a spot in the receiver rotation.

Hodgins, who is working through a minor leg injury, and Bradford, who sported a boot to protect a broken bone in his right foot, are expected to be ready to go come preseason.

Building the dam on defense 

Oregon State's defense was statistically one of the worst in the FBS ranks in 2018. OSU allowed 45.7 points per game, approximately 12 points per game worst than any other team in the conference and they know it's time to change that. 

The Beavers are expecting some help from their incoming recruiting class, which includes three-star linebacker Omar Speights, three-star defensive lineman Evan Bennett and transfer Jordan Whittley. Sophomore Isaac Hodgins will be returning to the D-line after playing in all 12 games and making 11 starts last season. With three seasons under his belt, senior outside linebacker Andrzej Hughes-Murray, one of the squad's anticipated co-captains, will bring experience to the the table. 

Here's more information on Oregon State's Spring Game: 

Where: Reser Stadium

When: Saturday, April 20 at 11:00 a.m. in Corvallis, Oregon

More details: The scrimmage game is open to the public, and there will be an autograph session beginning at 9 a.m. on the concourse. Posters will be provided, with one autograph per person. Fans can also enter to win a $200 concession voucher for the regular season.

A look is worth a 1,000 words: Pat Casey excited about Mitch Canham taking the reins of Beaver Baseball


A look is worth a 1,000 words: Pat Casey excited about Mitch Canham taking the reins of Beaver Baseball

CORVALLIS --- Mitch Canham's arrival as the new Beaver baseball coach was exciting for Pat Casey. The coach who transformed the Oregon State Beavers baseball program into elite status was at the introductory news conference inside the Valley Football Center auditorium on Friday. His successor was answering various questions from the local media and I glanced to my left and saw the look on Coach Casey's face. 

Obviously he is very proud of his former player/catcher who helped lead the program into that elite status back in 2006 when Oregon State topped North Carolina for the first of three College World Series titles Casey would garner at OSU.

After the news conference I wanted to get Pat's reaction to the hiring of Mitch Canham. I started off by myself but was soon joined by a plethora of others curious about the same thing. You see, Pat Casey has been pretty low key this past year and now he was very willing to talk about this important moment in OSU Baseball history

Scott Barnes, the school's Athletic Director, has been on campus and knows the coaches must understand Corvallis and the culture of a college town and it helps if they know the history of Oregon State.

Bob DeCarolis, when he was AD in 2010, hired Scott Rueck (OSU class of '91) as the Women's Basketball coach and of course the transformation has been incredible. The Beavers have made the NCAA Tourney the past six seasons and at least the Sweet Sixteen the past four years. Barnes was the architect behind the hiring of former Beaver QB Jonathan Smith as the new football coach in 2018. (Smith was at the Canham news conference Friday BTW) Another alum....another head coach who really gets Oregon State.

I asked Barnes about the new hire and about the importance of a new coach 'getting' Oregon State.

For Mitch Canham a possible road to becoming a Major League skipper has been put aside. He has what he called on Friday his "dream job." What about Pat Bailey and Nate Yeskie, the interm coach and the pitching coach? Will they remain? Various reports have them talking about staying on and continuing the excellent program they helped build with Pat Casey. 

Canham is heading back to Arkansas to take care of business and move his family to Corvallis. He is a northwest guy, a native of Lake Stevens, Washington and bleeds Orange and Black. I actually had Mitch on the football broadcast last fall as a halftime guest and happened to ask him about the 2018 College World Series. He told me a great story about what he was doing during that title game against Arkansas.

I asked him about that and about Adley Rutschman at the news conference Friday... Of course Mitch, a catcher on two Oregon State title teams and a first round draft choice. Rutschman a catcher on last year's title team and the overall first round pick in the draft. 

So this is quite a change. After 24-years with Pat Casey running the show...and a year with Pat Bailey, the Oregon State Beaver baseball program will be run by a 34-year old who is taking on his first job in college athletics. But make no mistake, Mitch Canham is an expert on Oregon State baseball and will hit the ground running.

I will remember that glance back to Pat Casey during Mitch's intro as the new coach. A proud papa, someone who know Mitch Canham is going to pour his heart and soul into this next step of his life. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Mitch Canham at OSU: "This is the only job I've ever dreamt of"

Mitch Canham at OSU: "This is the only job I've ever dreamt of"

Mitch Canham met the media in Corvallis Friday morning and he made it clear that the job of coaching Oregon State baseball is a homecoming, of sorts.

And his former coach made it just as clear that he wanted nothing more than to Leave it to a Beaver.

Canham, a former Beaver catcher and now-ex-Manager of Seattle's Double-A Arkansas club left little doubt why he is walking away from professional baseball as a rising star to return to his roots at Oregon State.

“This is the only job I’ve really ever dreamt of,” he said. “My passion for this program is second to none. I’ve lived for the orange and black since I attended OSU.”

The Mariners considered Canham an up-and-comer in their organization, but had been told by Canham that the only call he would ever take about another job would be from Oregon State.

“We couldn’t be happier for Mitch and his family," said the Mariners' Director of Player Development Andy McKay. "Oregon State has a made a great hire and we look forward to seeing Mitch lead the Beavers and represent the Pacific Northwest and his alma mater at the Division I level. Our loss is definitely OSU’s gain.

“Thank you, Mitch, for being a constant reminder to all of us that excellence is always the result of focusing on, and trying to help, other people.”

Former Coach Pat Casey was an advisor to Athletic Director Scott Barnes during the selection process and he was present at the news conference.

“Scott gave me the freedom that he knew that I really believed it had to be a Beaver to carry this thing on,” Casey said. “My whole goal with this was to make sure it stayed in the Beaver family.

“The one thing our baseball program does is rally around each other. And I think they will rally around Mitch. I knew with Mitch, whatever path he chose he was going to be successful.”

Canham is one of those people that, when you ask around to people he’s known or worked with, you never hear anything but positives. Amidst a sea of qualified candidates, I can understand how he could have been a star in the interview process. He is polished and smooth.

I think he will be an outstanding recruiter, in that he believes in the school and the baseball program and should be able to convey that to recruits and their families.

He’s going to need to recruit well because it doesn’t appear that the Beavers will be well-stocked after their drafted players this year sign contracts and depart for the pro ranks.

Canham faces another difficult challenge, too. His top assistant coaches – pitching coach Nate Yeskie and interim head coach Pat Bailey – were candidates for the job he won. Will they return? Would he be stuck with them if he would prefer to bring in other people?

"Amazing men, all of them," Canham said of the Beaver coaching staff. "Not only as people but with their skillset. And they're family. I'm excited to sit down and talk with each coach. I had a chance to talk with Nate, had a chance to talk with 'Bailes' and great things. Great things. We're all in a great place and we're going to continue to have conversations and see how we can make this thing work."

Those questions will have to wait for a few days as Canham is expected to return to Arkansas to say his goodbyes to staff and players and move his belongings to Corvallis.

“I’m looking forward to being home,” Canham said. “This is home.”

Darwin Barney: "Mitch Canham is a leader in all aspects of life"

Darwin Barney: "Mitch Canham is a leader in all aspects of life"

Darwin Barney is an eight-year veteran of Major League Baseball and a former player at Oregon State. In fact, he was a teammate of new OSU Coach Mitch Canham on OSU’s first two national championship teams, in 2006 and 2007.

Retired from professional baseball and back living in the Portland area, where he was raised, Barney was very positive about the ability of Canham to replace Pat Casey and Pat Bailey as the head coach at Oregon State.

He shared his thoughts on his former teammate Thursday.

“Mitch is a leader in all aspects of life,” Barney said. “A selfless individual who embodies what the Oregon State baseball program stands for. Change is not always easy, but I truly believe in Canham’s ability to lead our program.

“At the end of it all, a great day to be a Beaver.”

Oregon State plans a news conference Friday at 10 a.m. to formally introduce Canham, who has been managing the Double-A Arkansas Travelers in the Seattle Mariners' organization.


OSU officially announces Mitch Canham as new baseball manager

OSU officially announces Mitch Canham as new baseball manager

It was reported earlier in the day on Thursday that the Oregon State baseball program would hire former start player Mitch Canham as its new head coach. 

That hire is no longer a rumor, it's official. 

Canham was the catcher for the back-to-back national championship Beavers teams in 2006 and 2007.

Canham has not coached college baseball, but he was a coach in the Mariners farm system for the past four seasons. In January of this year, he was announced as the new head coach of the Double-A Arkansas Travelers. The Travelers were 42-21 under Canham this season, the best record in the Texas League. 

When it was announced earlier this month that former manager Pat Casey would not step back into the dugout, the Beavers launched a full search for their next head coach. In Canham, they didn't have to look far. 

The following is from the official Oregon State Press Release: 

"What an incredible day and a dream come true," said Canham. "Since stepping on the OSU campus in the summer of 2002, I felt a part of the Beaver family. The baseball program, Corvallis community, athletic department, faculty, donors, and fans have been a huge part in transforming my life and helping me become the man I am today.

"I am eager to get back to Oregon State University and do OUR family of Beaver Nation proud. Coach Casey and everyone who has been involved over the years have created such a wonderful and life-changing program, and I look forward to not only continuing in this fine tradition, but helping the program grow even more. I want to thank Scott Barnes, the selection committee, and President Ray for this opportunity to lead the men of Oregon State's baseball program. 
"I am also forever grateful to the Seattle Mariners and a great mentor in Andy McKay. He and the Mariners  gave me the opportunity to learn while coaching their players."

Stayed locked into NBC Sports Northwest for all the latest news.


Adley Rutschman wins 2019 Golden Spikes Award

Adley Rutschman wins 2019 Golden Spikes Award

The good times keep rolling for Adley Rutschman. After being selected as the No. 1 MLB Draft pick (to the Baltimore Orioles last Monday), Rutschman now adds Golden Spike Winner, a prestigious college baseball award for the top amateur baseball player in the nation.

Coming into today’s vote, Rutschman was the fan favorite:

Rutschman won the award over JJ Bleday (Vanderbilt), Noah Song (Navy), and Andrew Vaughn (CAL), and becomes the first player from Oregon State to win the award.



Talk about quite the career for the Junior catcher. 

In the hit TV series Game of Thrones, one must introduce oneself with his or her accolade. If Rutschman starred in GoT, he would have to introduce himself as such:

I am Adley Rutschman, first of my house, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, Baseball America National Player of the Year, D1Baseball.com National Player of  the Year, Perfect Game Player of the Year, Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year, the 2019 No. 1 MLB Draft pick, Golden Spikes Award winner, hereby sentence you to death.

Just kidding on that last part… Rutschman is a humble and respectable both person and player and wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Congrats, Clutchman!

Mariners' official on Mitch Canham: "Our loss is definitely OSU's gain"

Mariners' official on Mitch Canham: "Our loss is definitely OSU's gain"

Oregon State University reached into its past Thursday, naming Mitch Canham its new head baseball coach, according to multiple sources and first reported by Kendall Rogers of D1 Baseball.

Canham replaces former coach Pat Casey and interim coach Pat Bailey, who ran the team the past season after Casey stepped away following the team’s national championship run in 2018.

Canham has been the manager of the Seattle Mariners’ Double-A team in the Texas League, the Arkansas Travelers, this season.

“We couldn’t be happier for Mitch and his family," said the Mariners' Director of Player Development Andy McKay. "Oregon State has a made a great hire and we look forward to seeing Mitch lead the Beavers and represent the Pacific Northwest and his Alma Mater at the Division 1 level. Our loss is definitely OSU’s gain.

“Thank you Mitch for being a constant reminder to all of us that excellence is always the result of focusing on, and trying to help, other people.”

Canham was the catcher for OSU’s national-championship teams in 2006 and 2007 and then was the 57th overall pick of the San Diego Padres in the 2007 Major League Baseball draft. He came to OSU from Lake Stevens, Wash., where he was a three-sport prep star.

Canham has never coached college baseball but was considered an up-and-coming managerial prospect in professional ball. Bailey and pitching coach Nate Yeskie were also candidates for the job.


(more to come)

Oregon State football recruiting: The Dam just got bigger and stronger

Oregon State football recruiting: The Dam just got bigger and stronger

Let’s catch you up on the latest recruiting news to come out of Corvallis, Oregon overt the weekend. 

Kyrei Fisher

Linebacker / Tulsa, Oklahoma

Arkansas Transfer

6’2” 225 pounds

Fisher committed to Arkansas straight out of high school (Union High School, Oklahoma) before landing at Trinity C.C. for a hot second and now finds himself in orange and black all the way west. The 6’2” linebacker had offers from Kansas, Michigan State, Colorado, Minnesota, and others before committing to Jonathan Smith and the Dam. 

He will join a very young and hungry linebacker crew lead by just two seniors and three redshirt juniors.  

Tavis Shippen

JUCO Product (Mt. San Jacinto College)

Defensive Lineman / Murrieta, California

6”5” 275 pounds

If Oregon State is to have a better season in 2019, it must start at the defensive line. The Beavers took a step in that direction with Tavis Shippen announcing his commitment. Shippen is the No. 3 rated defensive lineman in JUCO as well as No. 15 overall. He is the highest rated JUCO prospect the Beavers have landed since CB Stephen Nelson in 2013.

Nahshon Wright

JUCO Product (Laney College)

Corner / East Palo Alto, California

6’4” 175 pounds

The highly sought after Wright committed to Oregon State over Boise State and Colorado amongst others. Wright brings both size and speed to the DB unit for the Beavers. A 6’4” corner who can go up and challenge the height of opposing receivers is huge, especially when Stanford rolls into Corvallis and runs their ever-famous fade route to a lengthy tight end in the corner of the end zone. Wright will be the tallest DB heading into this season for Oregon State. 

The elusive James Rodgers is back in orange and black

The elusive James Rodgers is back in orange and black

Looking back at the history of Oregon State football in the late 2000’s, one of the big storylines was the Rodgers brothers. 

James and Jacquizz Rodgers were standout players of the Oregon State Beavers between 2007–2010. Both electrifying and both oh so dangerous in the open field. One brother pounding the ball up the middle; the other stretching the field wide due to his strong hands and constant deep threat. 

And now, Beaver fans get to welcome back James to the Oregon State football coaching staff, per head coach Jonathan Smith. 

At Oregon State, Rodgers set the Beavers’ record for all purpose yards (6,377) as well as the first player to reach 1,000 rushing and 2,000 receiver yards in his career. After college, he signed in the 2012 NFL Draft as a free agent with the Atlanta Falcons where he bounced back and forth from the practice squad and also being waived. Rodgers was then signed to the Montreal Alouettes (CFL) practice squad in August 2014.

Fun fact: Rodgers joined Mike Riley’s (his head coach back at Oregon State) staff in 2018 with the San Antonio Commanders (AAF) originally to coach the running backs but then was switched to outside linebackers.

Welcome back to Reser Stadium, James!

The making of a No. 1 pick: Adley Rutschman's journey to pro ball

The making of a No. 1 pick: Adley Rutschman's journey to pro ball

So somebody told Sherwood High School baseball coach Jon Strohmaier several years ago that he should go watch this little kid play ball. “You’ve got to see this kid,” he was told.

Prep coaches get that kind of thing a lot, but Strohmaier, who has won a couple of state championships at the school and is considered one of the best at his craft in Oregon, decided he wanted a look at the youngster.

“It was the first time I saw him,” Strohmaier said. “He was about eight or nine years old. I think he drew a four-pitch walk. And then on the first pitch, he stole second. On the second pitch, he stole third. And then on the next pitch he came about halfway down the third-base line, the catcher threw to third and then he walked home.

“And that was my first Adley Rutschman impression.”

The professional baseball world is about to get its first impression of Rutschman very soon. For now, the switch-hitting Oregon State catcher whom the Baltimore Orioles took with the No.1 pick in the first-year player draft, is just trying to get a million things done so he can sign a contract with the Orioles and get on with a career that will likely start in the low minors.

“I’ve been involved in sports all my life and had multiple kids sign and play pro baseball but when it’s your own kid, it’s kind of overwhelming,” said Adley’s father, Randy, who has been a high school and college coach. “The texts and phone calls – and for Adley, it’s 10 times more.

“It’s been a whirlwind. And trying to manage everything. He’s going to be back in Omaha for the Dick Howser and the Golden Spikes (awards, for which he’s a finalist), that ceremony, and moving out of his house in Corvallis. So trying to figure out how to get school finished, sign a contract with Baltimore – and he has to move out of his house. The baseball part is probably the least overwhelming.”

Adley Rutschman is a switch-hitter who throws right-handed, writes left-handed, famously kicks a football with his left foot. And his father says he never encouraged the whole switch-hitting thing.

“First of all,” Randy said, “I can’t remember ever saying, 'Adley let’s go out and hit.' He was a self-generated type. If I ever have to have Tommy John surgery, it’s because of him. I have a bucket of balls sitting down here right now.

“When he got back from the (College World Series) I knew it would be just a matter of 12 hours before he’d want to go hit. I had the balls sitting there. Twelve hours and he was going to go hit.

“And if he happens to make his way up here this weekend, I know he’s going to say, let’s go out and hit.

“When he was young he would hit right-handed, but he’d turn around once in a while and hit left-handed and it was really a good-looking swing. The first time he hit left-handed in a game he was a third grader and he asked me if it would be OK to hit left-handed. And I said, ‘Heck yeah.’ He went out there and just about tore the pitcher’s head off with a line drive.

“Every year he would hit a couple of times left-handed. His freshman year in high school he hurt his elbow and it hurt to hit right-handed, so the whole freshman year he hit lefty. That really moved him out of his comfort zone. He became very comfortable hitting lefty. I don’t think he would have been a switch-hitter today if he wouldn’t have had that fracture in his elbow. It forced him to become comfortable left-handed.”

Strohmaier utilized Rutschman all over the diamond at Sherwood.

“He played JV his freshman year, we were pretty good,” said the high school coach. “He had some arm issues his sophomore year and I used him at third base. His junior year, if I remember correctly, he did a lot of DH-ing because his arm was bothering him.

“Towards the end of his junior year, he started throwing a little bit for us and we used him as a closer. His senior year he caught a lot. We kind of put him all over the place -- whatever was best for the team -- and we moved him up to leadoff hitter because we wanted him to get as many plate appearances as he could.”

To his everlasting credit, Strohmaier knew how much money Rutschman’s throwing arm might be worth someday and didn’t abuse it. And it’s turned out that one of the catcher’s biggest attributes is his throwing ability from behind the plate.

“I guess what I would consider my claim to fame with him is that I kind of babied his arm in high school,” Strohmaier said. “I realized there were bigger and better things to come and he had some arm issues in high school.”

That said, there was no way at that point that anyone would forecast the kid from Sherwood High going No. 1 in the draft.

“Not a clue,” Strohmaier said. “I knew during his junior year, especially when he got on the mound and was throwing 94, I knew I had a Division-1 kid, if that’s the route he wanted to go.

“I never expected he might be a No. 1 pick.”

His father credits Oregon State’s coaching staff and former head man Pat Casey with a lot of his son’s personal growth.

“When we sent him off to Oregon State, I really took my hands off Adley,” Randy Rutschman said. “I really had a lot of faith in that coaching staff. And we saw a lot of growth in just the first three months he was there. Adley really grew up in that program. He’s a better kid for having been there.”

Of course, the young man has pretty good genes, as everyone knows by now.

His father is known as a terrific coach with a special talent for working with catchers. His grandfather, Ad, was a coaching and playing legend in Oregon who won national championships coaching football and baseball at Linfield.

Adley is represented by Beverly Hills Sports Council, a firm that has repped the likes of Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza, Trevor Hoffman, Albert Pujols and many others and they will be negotiating from a position of strength on Rutschman’s first contract. The slot value of the top pick this season has been set at $8,415,300 – so Adley may not be driving that 2014 Honda much longer.

Very soon, the young Rutschman will embark on his professional career. Normally, catchers take longer to get to the big leagues, because of the nuances they must learn in regard to handling a pitching staff and taking the physical abuse of the position while trying to hold their offense together.

But Strohmaier doesn’t think it will be long before he can turn on the TV and watch his former star.

“I think he will be in the big leagues in a couple of years,” Strohmaier said. “He’s just that special. You don’t get that caliber of kid who can hit for average from both sides of the plate, hit for power, he’s got the strong arm, he’s got the defensive ability. I think, barring injury, he’s going to be able to work his way through the system rather quickly.

“I just hope it’s not too quickly. I hope they bring him along at a good pace so he’s successful at whatever level he is. I hope they won’t rush him – which I’m sure they won’t.”

Since he was that little kid Strohmaier watched stealing his way around the bases, he’s almost always been the best player on the field at whatever level he’s played. And now he’ll soon be faced with the same challenge.

But he’s had some pretty good preparation.