Gary Andersen is enormously proud of Oregon State's NFL Draft history. He's proud of 2017 draftees Sean Harlow and Treston Decoud, and those who preceded them. He's proud of what they've done on the football field and how they've used resources at Oregon State to develop athletically.
But the third-year coach is proud of them not because they've reached the NFL; he's proud of them for chasing their dreams.
"A recruit’s family is oftentimes as much interested in how their son will be treated and how he will be developed off the field academically and socially," Andersen told HERO Sports. "OSU is not a just a stepping stone to professional football. We want our graduating seniors to change from young men into men, prepared to take care of whatever life they decide to create for themselves whether that be a long career in the NFL, a professional career, a family, whatever they choose."
When the Atlanta Falcons selected Harlow with the 136th pick in last month's draft, the Beavers' draft streak reached 17 years, or longer than Alabama, Clemson, Auburn and others.
"It’s a powerful statement," Andersen says of the streak. "Recruits can look at OSU’s draft record over time and see that this is a program that can prepare them to reach their NFL dreams — not just in the draft but in the league."
Since Andersen became assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Utah in 2005, 37 players of his former players have been drafted, headlined by Eric Weddle and Paul Kruger at Utah, James White and Melvin Gordon at Wisconsin and Sean Harlow and Isaac Seumalo at Oregon State. He has continued the NFL pipeline despite a shift in coaching and recruiting philosophies after replacing Mike Riley in December 2014.
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"Mike Riley’s pro-style offense certainly got a lot of players on that side of the ball ready for the draft — particularly quarterbacks like Sean Mannion and wide receivers like Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks," said Gina Mizell, Oregon State football reporter for The Oregonian. "Andersen’s staff has focused a lot on speed and athleticism, especially on defense, and I think we’ll see some draft picks cut from that cloth in the coming years."
As Andersen crafted Wisconsin's 2013 recruiting class during the early weeks of his two-year stint, he hung onto T.J. Watt — a 2017 first-rounder, and Troy Fumagalli — a future NFL tight end. He also helped groom recent draftees Vince Biegel, Joe Schobert and Rob Havenstein.
"It starts with recruiting," adds Andersen, who signed Decoud, a two-star JUCO prospect, in his first recruiting class in 2014. "Getting the right fit of talented young men in the program who are serious about developing academically and socially as much as athletically. Our support and development system is something that continues to improve and increase its scope each year. After a few years, they will be ready to take the next step in their lives whether it’s in the NFL or another chosen career."
[credit] Andersen watches as his wife Stacey hugs Sean Harlow at Senior Day. Photo: Oregon Athletics[/credit]
Despite a young team entering 2017, there are several candidates to extend Oregon State's streak to 18 years and beyond, among them running back Ryan Nall, receiver Jordan Villamin, linebacker Manase Hungalu and cornerback Xavier Crawford, a Freshman All-American (FWAA) who had 70 tackles and 10 passes defended in 2016.
"Jordan Villamin has an NFL frame at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, but will need to rebound in a big way after a very disappointing 2016 season," says Mizell of the senior receiver who played in just eight games last year. "Inside linebacker Manase Hungalu is undersized but a very savvy playmaker."
Though Gary Andersen prefers touting Oregon State's resources that help student-athletes achieve anything they desire, the Beavers' 17-year draft streak isn't bad for a rainy day.