One of college football’s finest centers won’t be on the field during the first weekend of play when the Oregon State Beavers host the Portland State Vikings .
Junior Isaac Seumalo, who was named to the Outland Trophy watch list, is still recovering from a broken foot he suffered during the Hawaii Bowl against the Boise State Broncos. Junior Josh Mitchell will start in Seumalo’s place, according to the Oregonian.
Oregon’s offensive line as a whole was in upheaval until recent weeks. Junior Gavin Andrews was moved from right to left tackle a little over two weeks ago. Sophomore Sean Harlow will start at right tackle.
“(It’s) pretty good, considering there’s been some juggling and movement and some late injuries that forced us into some decisions about where to put people,” Beavers coach Mike Riley told the Oregonian‘s Gina Mizell. “I think it’s still a group that will be good and has a chance to get better.”
A return date for Seumalo wasn’t provided. The Beavers play the Hawaii Warriors Sept. 6, and Seumalo could return to the field where he was originally injured. The coaching staff may even look at the schedule and realize it doesn’t need Seumalo in the lineup until the third game of the season. The Beavers enjoy an early bye week and then host the San Diego Aztecs Sept. 20.
Once Seumalo returns, he may not be reinserted at center. Riley has expressed an interest in Seumalo playing right guard this season. Mitchell’s play through first game or two will dictate exactly where Riley can eventually play his best offensive lineman.
Oregon State C Isaac Seumalo became an instant starter for the Beavers the day he stepped onto the team’s practice field as a true freshman. Seumalo, however, may not open the season as a starter this fall due to a broken foot he suffered during the Hawaii Bowl.
Seumalo missed all of spring practice due to his recovery, and Oregon State head coach Mike Riley doesn’t have a definitive timetable for the center’s return.
“I think it’s on pretty good schedule to be ready to play, if not at the very first game, early,” Riley told the Oregonian’s Gina Mizell at Pac-12 Media Days. “So we’re going to be very, very careful with that. So that’s why I’m being very careful when I say he’s going to play. But I anticipate him being ready. I would think he might be ready for the first game, but maybe not.”
Oregon State opens the season against against the Portland State Vikings and returns to the islands to play the Hawaii Warriors on Sept. 6. If Seumalo hasn’t returned to the lineup by that point, the Beavers have an open date, which will grant the lineman an extra week to heal.
Seumalo, who was named to the Outland Trophy watch list this summer, is one of the nation’s top interior blockers. He’s already considered the top center prospect for the 2016 NFL draft by ESPN’s draft guru, Mel Kiper Jr.
“Seumalo is another center who could easily move to guard, and is also athletic enough to handle tackle,” Kiper wrote. “He already has 25 starts, but will be coming into the season with a layer rust after missing the spring with a foot injury.”
Riley is considering the possibility of moving Seumalo to guard upon his return. Riley told Mizell that he actually prefers Seumalo to play right guard, while sophomore Grant Bays steps in as the team’s new center.
Either way, the Oregon State offensive line is far better with a healthy Seumalo in the lineup than when he’s not.