Starters in, starters out. That's college football. Players' eligibility expires and they leave for the rest of their lives, which might include the NFL or not. And they leave behind shoes of various sizes that need to be filled.
In alphabetical order, we will survey each Pac-12 team’s most notable void. Today we look at Oregon State.
Biggest shoes: WR Brandin Cooks
He was the 2013 Bilietnikoff winner. The shoes don’t get any bigger than that. He was a consensus All-American and a first-team all-conference selection. His 128 receptions were a single-season Pac-12 record, as were his 1,730 receiving yards. He leaves as the school’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions (24) and single-season touchdown receptions (16). Along with quarterback Sean Mannion, the pair connected 24 times -- also a school record for a QB-WR tandem. He was, in a word, phenomenal.
Stepping in: Good question
Coach Mike Riley essentially asked the same thing when he spoke to the media last week, inquiring: “Where’s that [production] going to come from?” Victor Bolden sits atop the spring depth chart, though he only caught six balls for 62 yards last season. Mannion, who is on pace to be the Pac-12’s career passer, had the benefit of working with Markus Wheaton and Cooks the last couple of years. Now someone will have to step up for him. Richard Mullaney has been very reliable on the opposite side, hauling in 52 catches for 788 yards and three touchdowns last year. Hunter Jarmon, Malik Gilmore, Kendall Hill and Walter Jones could also be in the mix. Don’t be surprised, either, to see tight ends Connor Hamlett and Caleb Smith (combined 65 catches, nine touchdowns) take on a bigger role in the passing attack if a consistent successor or committee for Cooks can’t be found.