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Pac-12 Football Recruiting Profile: Oregon State Beavers

Stop number 8 in our in-depth tour around the Pac-12

Oregon State v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Welcome to a series in which I am profiling the recruiting trends and habits of each team in the Pac-12 conference over the past 5 seasons. That includes the 2014-2018 classes ending with the incoming freshmen for this upcoming season.

The data I used does not include every single offer and commit for every program but it does include the vast majority. The cuts I made were deliberate. To see more information about what specifically is in the data set and an explanation of any metrics I used, please check out this article here which has all of the information you could want and more.

You can also look at the previous editions profiling: Arizona, Arizona State, California, Stanford, Colorado, Utah, and Oregon.

Program Overview

Oregon State is one of the few programs in the conference to have had 3 separate coaches in the last 5 seasons. Mike Riley coached the 2014 team but left for Nebraska after going 5-7 coming off consecutive bowl game appearances. Gary Andersen took over for Riley, making a move from Wisconsin which shocked many who saw it as a step down. The best season Andersen could muster was 4-8 in 2016 and he resigned part way through a 1-11 campaign in 2017. Jonathan Smith took over after the season and had only about a month before the early signing period deadline for the 2018 class.

General Recruiting Statistics

Average Offer: 3.39 stars, 0.884 composite rating (11th in conference)

Average Commit: 3.03 stars, 0.845 composite rating (12th in conference)

Average # of Offers: 148.4 (7th in conference)

Recruiting Style: Offers- Middle of the Road, Quality- Barrel Scraper

There’s a symbiotic relationship between coaching upheaval and lack of recruiting success but it’s clear that Corvallis is one of the toughest places to recruit to in the Pac-12. For the most part Oregon State coaches have accepted this reality and don’t reach for the stars too heavily. 28% of offers that Oregon State have handed out were more highly ranked than the top recruit they signed. Although that’s more an indication of their inability to sign 4 star players rather than them offering only pipe dream 5 stars from SEC country.

Best Recruiting Win: Class of 2017 Isaiah Hodgins, WR. 4 stars, 0.8995 composite rating.

This should be considered a bad sign that the biggest recruiting win for Oregon State wasn’t even a 0.9 composite rating. Hodgins had offers from Washington, Florida State, and Wisconsin while also taking visits to Oregon and Nebraska. Hodgins was more highly ranked than any WR that the Ducks ended up signing in 2017 so it wasn’t a case of them being completely set at the position like it was for UW.

Worst Recruiting Loss: Class of 2018 Spencer Petras, QB. 3 stars, 0.8858.

Petras gave his verbal commitment to Oregon State in May of 2017 and he was the future building block upon which Beavers fans could envision rising out of the Pac-12 North cellar. After the coaching switch from Gary Andersen to Jonathan Smith it appeared they might be able to hold onto Petras but just a week before signing day he decommitted and flipped to Iowa.

Recruiting Map Profile

One of the problems that Oregon State has is that there just aren’t that many great players in the state of Oregon. The Beavers only give out about 5% of their offers to home grown players which is 5th for them among all states. Almost 2/3rds of their offers are given to the high population centers of California (32%), Texas (16%), and Florida (16%). The remaining third of their offers are fairly evenly distributed among Utah, Oregon, Arizona, and Washington with more than a handful also going to Hawaii, Georgia, and Louisiana.

Highest Success States

Oregon: +9.94%, Hawaii: +5.59%, Washington: +4.78%

It’s not surprising that OSU has done best when sticking within their Pacific Northwest footprint. Even though there aren’t as many premium prospects, they have a little more cachet with the ones who are here and there isn’t as intense competition since many programs don’t want to make the trip to any of those 3 states except for the best of the best.

Lowest Success States

Florida: -8.17%, Texas: -7.08%, Georgia: -2.96%

The Beavers can’t rely on the Pacific Northwest for talent and can only do so much in California which leads to them searching out recruits in the fertile Southeast. While they find the occasional recruit from that region, they might be better served just focusing more on the West coast anyways. Oregon State has gotten 13 commits that meet the criteria outside the Pac-12 footprint despite putting in 313 offers. That’s a 4.2% success rate compared to 12.6% closer to the West Coast. Yes, there’s more talent out there but it’s debatable if it’s worth the resources Oregon State is expending.

Out of Conference Profile

Non-Conference Rival: San Diego State Aztecs- 43.75%

It’s not a great place to be in as a Pac-12 school that has a losing record going against a Mountain West school but that’s how the last half decade has gone for the Beavers. The Aztecs hold a 9-7 edge on OSU in prospects with offers from both that picked or the other. That includes the only 4-star player in the bunch (2015 WR Desean Holmes).

Non-Conference Big Brother: Texas Longhorns- 0.0%

The Beavers earn the shameful Blutarsky here as since 2014 they haven’t gotten a single commitment from a player with a Texas offer. That includes eight 3-star players who you might’ve hoped the Longhorns would let slip from the cracks. As soon as an OSU target gets a Texas offer it is over.

Non-Conference Little Brother: Fresno State Bulldogs- 63.6%

There weren’t a lot of options for this one but the Beavers are 7-4 going up against the Bulldogs. That also includes securing commitments from 6 of the 7 most highly rated players at the time.

Oregon State Pac-12 Recruiting Win % (2014-2018)

Year Conf H2H % Conf. Rank
Year Conf H2H % Conf. Rank
2014 7.87% 9
2015 5.98% 11
2016 3.81% 12
2017 5.93% 10
2018 5.70% 12
Overall 5.79% 12

*Scratch*. Freeze frame. “Yep, that’s me. I bet you’re wondering how I got here...”

Jonathan Smith inherited one heck of a rebuilding job but that’s only because Gary Andersen really, and I mean really, buggered things up in Corvallis. Remember, he left Wisconsin for that job. That 2014 figure was ahead of the conference newcomers in Utah and Colorado and pretty much in line with fellow North competitors Cal and Washington State. By 2018, no one in the conference was below 7% except for Oregon State.

Coaching changes are always rough on the metrics and that’s without taking into account that the head coach resigned after basically admitting he was doing a crappy job and the culture sucked. Jonathan Smith was a successful alumnus returning to campus but it’s not as if Oregon State’s recruiting base is left in awe by Jonathan Smith. Oregonians only make up about 15% of the roster and Smith started college before 2018 recruits were born.

Oregon State Weighted Pac-12 Recruiting Win % (2014-2018)

Year Conf H2H % Conf. Rank
Year Conf H2H % Conf. Rank
2014 13.11% 9
2015 8.70% 10
2016 2.42% 12
2017 8.30% 11
2018 6.01% 12
Overall 7.71% 12

That 2016 recruiting class sticks out even worse in the weighted numbers than it did before. Andersen brought in only a single player who had more than one other Pac-12 offer in Bellevue’s Isaac Garcia. ATH Christian Wallace was a 4-star player but no one else in the conference extended him an offer coming out of Sealy, Texas. Those players are going to be juniors and will need to make an impact greater than their recruiting profiles if Smith wants to have any success in Year One.

Early Outlook for 2019 and Beyond

All things considered Oregon State fans have to be relatively happy about 2019 recruiting to this point. In their first full year under Jonathan Smith the Beavers have given out more offers than they did on average under Andersen but not by much more. They’re up to 7 commitments so far although only 5 who have a composite rating at 0.82 or greater. They got a huge boost in the arm when the top ranked player in Pennsylvania, 4-star SDE Omar Speights, verbally committed to OSU this past weekend. Speights’ older brother already plays for the Beavers which is how they got involved. But you would have to think that if he got an offer from Penn State or another Big 10 power that the commitment might not hold.

Oregon State is never going to be a recruiting power but they’ve had pockets of success. There’s always the chicken and egg between winning and recruits but for OSU winning is going to have to come first. The ceiling is probably somewhere around 7th in the conference and it would be a herculean effort by Jonathan Smith to get them there. Step one is finding the QB of the future and after taking two of them in 2018 Smith needs to make sure that one pans out both in the short and long term.

You can follow me @UWDP_maxvroom