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With the Oregon State football team taking to the field for its 11th practice of spring, BeaversEdge.com gives you the latest from the Beavers in this in-depth notebook.

MORE: WATCH: DAY 11 Interviews | QB Travis Throckmorton Quickly Learning About OSU | Beavs In The NBA: Latest on Payton II & Eubanks

Defensive Line Eager To Showcase Improvement 

If there’s one position group that needs to take a sizable step forward in 2021 for the Beavers to reach a new level of success, it’s the defensive line.

After several years of not having the necessary depth and talent needed to compete amongst the Pac-12, the team finds itself in a much better position in 2021.

“As a defensive line room, we’ve grown a lot,” defensive lineman Isaac Hodgins said. “Since I’ve been here, this is the best collection of guys we’ve had in the aspect of wanting to work hard and be better by taking the next step.”

Between Jeromy Reichner, Simon Sandberg, Hodgins, Tavis Shippen, James Rawls, Sione Lolohea, Evan Bennett, Cory Stover, Kelsen Hennessy, Omarion Fa’amoe, and potentially Jordan Whittley, the Beavers have the crux of an intriguing group.

It’s not a perfect position by any means, but the on-field product should be a lot more consistent and productive this season as the group of returnees really challenged themselves to be difference-makers.

Time will tell exactly how much better the Beavers will be in the trenches on defense this season, but if practices this spring have been any indication, things are moving in the right direction.

“It’s been a combination of everyone gaining good weight and continuing to get after it in the weight room. The offseason goal was to gain more weight and get stronger in the weight room as a unit, and we’re all approaching our goals or have exceeded them.”

Jack Colletto Proving To Be A Two-Way Threat

It’s no secret that the Beavers have a secret weapon in Jack Colletto.

The 6-foot-3, 239-pound quarterback turned inside linebacker has become an x-factor on offense, regularly bullying defenders or simply running past them to the tune of 8.5 yards per carry and two scores in 2020.

“Jack is really smart,” linebackers coach Trent Bray said. “He can get everyone lined up, communicate all the calls, and his presence just calms everyone. There’s no panic when he’s in, and that’s huge at (inside linebacker).”

While the former quarterback has found his niche on the offensive side of the ball, doing anything and everything that the Beavers ask on offense, this year, Bray is excited to see Colletto become an even stronger force by being a complete two-way player.

“He was just trying to learn the position last year, he’s now got the hang of all the different angles, fits, and now he can cut it loose a little more. Plus, he’s upped his physicality from a year ago. He’s just stronger.”

As was the case during Tuesday’s practice this week, there are times where Colletto will go from being one of the starting inside linebackers with the first-team defense to running goal-line work with the offensive personnel.

“That (versatility) is huge for us. He’s been big for our short yardage and red zone packages. We want to expand on that, but his ability to do both is impressive. He just works really hard at studying a position, whatever that may be.

While Bray has coached some mighty fine linebackers and defensive players during his coaching career, none have compared to Colletto as far as having the dedication, ability, and wherewithal to play two of the most taxing positions on the field.

“I’ve never coached a guy who’s been able to play on both sides of the ball, especially the quarterback and the linebacker position. Those are two very mentally tough positions to play.”

Beavers Excited For The NFL Draft

With the NFL Draft officially set to kick off Thursday evening and last through Saturday, many eyes around Corvallis will be locked into their televisions to see where several Beavers might land.

Running back Jermar Jefferson, outside linebacker Hamilcar Rashed, and defensive backs Nahshon Wright & Isaiah Dunn are expected to be in the mix for a draft spot sometime over the weekend and the team couldn’t be more excited to have a strong presence in the draft.

Defensive back Alex Austin, who was mentored by Wright & Dunn, spoke to just how impactful those two guys were in the defensive backfield as leaders.

“I looked up to those guys a lot,” Austin said. “Just seeing their work ethic, how they go about their business, how they study film, and how they carry themselves. Now that they’re in the NFL Draft process, it’s amazing because it inspires everyone in the room to get to that level.

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