Inexperienced QB trio battles for Beavers' starting role
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) Oregon State freshman Seth Collins is focusing on himself, not on the outside noise about the Beavers' quarterback competition.
It's all speculation, anyway. About the only thing certain is that the ultimate starter for the Beavers will be someone who has never before played in a college game.
Joining Collins in vying for the starting nod are redshirt freshmen Nick Mitchell and Marcus McMaryion.
''There is a little pressure there, but I try to just keep it about football,'' Collins said. ''At the end of the day it's a game, and I try to keep it like that.''
The quarterback spot is wide open in the wake of Sean Mannion's departure. The prolific quarterback set the all-time conference record for career passing yards with 13,600 and a school record for touchdown passes with 83 before graduating to the pros. He's now with the St. Louis Rams.
The Beavers overall are under the guidance of new head coach Gary Andersen, who came to Corvallis from Wisconsin after longtime coach Mike Riley's surprising departure for Nebraska.
Whereas Oregon State played more of a pro-style offense with Mannion under Riley, Andersen is installing a new spread offense. He's looking for a QB that is nimble on his feet as well as being a strong passer.
Collins appeared the early front-runner for the job.
He verbally committed in January after switching from San Jose State and enrolled at Oregon State early. As a senior at Granite Hills High School in San Diego, he passed for 1,013 yards and 12 touchdowns while running for 988 yards and 17 scores.
He said that he chose the Beavers because of the chance to play right away.
''I sat down with my parents, and any school I planned on attending, I planned on going in and trying to compete for the job,'' he said. ''Because if not, what's the point?''
Collins generated buzz in spring practice, then threw for 175 yards and two touchdowns while also running for 74 yards in the spring game.
Speaking for the first time at the start of fall camp, Collins was unruffled by the prospect of being a freshman starter.
''You have to take a step on the field, whether you're a freshman, sophomore or a junior, you have to take that first step on the field,'' he said. ''Taking my first step on the field in the first game of the year? It doesn't bother me. I'm ready to go. It doesn't scare me.''
McMaryion, who helped out on the scout team last year, came to the Beavers from Dinuba High School in California, where he threw for more than 500 yards in a game as a junior.
Mitchell also played on the scout team last season, and was voted by his teammates as the scout team's offensive MVP. From North Bend, Washington, Mitchell completed 6 of 13 passes for 59 yards in the spring game and also ran for 12 yards on five carries.
''Whoever they end up deciding on - whether they have one quarterback, two quarterbacks - whoever gets the job is going to have our full support. I think it's just about going out there and improving each and every day,'' Mitchell said.
Andersen has introduced a true freshman quarterback before: He was coach at Utah State when Chuckie Keeton made a splash in his first year.
Keeton, now a redshirt senior for the Aggies, started in eight games his freshman year, throwing for 1,200 yards with 11 touchdowns, while Utah State went 7-6. But the next season Keeton threw for 3,373 yards and 27 touchdowns, and the Aggies went 11-2.
So Andersen realizes it's a process.
''You're going to go through some growing pains. As you move through that, you have to be patient, but you also have to have expectations,'' Andersen said. ''You have to be careful that you put the young man in a position to do things that he can do. Don't expect him to be a junior quarterback that is in the spread offense and has done some wonderful things throughout his career.''
Oregon State opens the season on Sept. 4 at home against Weber State.