Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Oregon State Beavers football: Isaac Seumalo makes history

Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2012, 2:17 PM Updated: Tuesday, August 28, 2012, 2:41 PM
By John Hunt, The Oregonian

Isaac Seumalo has become a leader, albeit a young one.
CORVALLIS – When Isaac Seumalo trots onto the field, it will mark the first time in 34 years that a true freshman has started at center for Oregon State.

According to OSU, Roger Levasa was the last one to do it, on Sept. 30, 1978 against Washington, and Hawaii’s Ben Clarke is the only current FBS freshman starter at center.

“Oh,’’ Seumalo said.

His story is now familiar to OSU fans. Son of defensive line coach Joe Seumalo and brother of defensive tackle Andrew Seumalo, he is the homegrown hope of the Beavers’ beleaguered offensive line.

What you might not know is that, despite his freshman status and soft-spoken nature, Isaac Seumalo already is a leader of the line.

“He’ll get after you,’’ offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “He’ll speak his mind. He’s not taking any (guff) from anybody.’’

For Cavanaugh and coach Mike Riley, Seumalo’s progress this fall has been expectedly extraordinary. After all, he has been around the team longer than any other player besides his brother, and he’s usually the last player to leave the practice field.

“He’s been a great student, he’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around,’’ Cavanaugh said. “It’s real important to him, he wants to be good. The kid’s on a mission. It’s going to be exciting coaching him for four years.’’

Riley said that Seumalo is, “pretty much wise, tough and talented beyond his years,’’ but that Nicholls State would be a good first test for his new center/savior.

“It won’t be easy for him, it will be very, very tough,’’ said Riley, who likened the Colonels’ size inside to his own 354-pound defensive tackle Castro Masaniai. “They have a couple of Castros that roll in and out of there.’’

Seumalo, at 6-foot-3 and 302 pounds, will go up against the Colonels’ 330-pound nose tackle, Edet Udoh. Handling him would help Seumalo’s leadership qualities.

“I want to be that guy,’’ Seumalo said of being a leader. “First, you have to play good to earn respect on the football field. After that, it’s pretty easy.’’

- John Hunt

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