The Oregon State Beavers were already worried about their lack of depth at the defensive tackle position heading into spring practice. That will blossom into full-blown concern following the announcement that their top reserve Joe Lopez will be leaving the program immediately and transferring to FCS Portland State. What does this mean for the Beavers next season?
It means a position of need just got needier. Lopez played two seasons in Corvallis and was considered one of Oregon State’s top reserve defensive linemen. He appeared in 10 games in 2012, accounting for just four tackles, but he was in line to have a much bigger role in the defensive rotation next fall. Lopez will enroll at Portland State immediately and be eligible to participate in their spring practice session.
That will put a lot more pressure on Siale Hautau and Edwin Delva, a pair of juniors signed out of junior college, to stay healthy and log a lot of snaps in 2013. They are projected to start next fall with senior Mana Rosa as the top rotational player for the defensive interior, so he should also prepare to see plenty of time on the field next season.
The wild card at the position could be Noke Tago, a powerful redshirt freshman who could see a lot more action than the Oregon State coaching staff anticipated. Tago is strong, but he is still learning the game of football after moving to the states from Samoa. Defensive coordinator Mark Banker has praised his work in the offseason improving his conditioning and movement, which could pay huge dividends for the Beavers in 2013.
Joe Lopez likely wanted to see the field more than as a rotational player, so he moved on to find that. His departure will stretch an already thin position for Oregon State next season, but will also provide a few Beavers the opportunity to shine.