Countdown to Oregon State 2023 football camp: Most impactful freshman

Published Jul. 27, 2023, 7:00 a.m.
By Nick Daschel | The Oregonian/OregonLive
Counting down the days to the start of Oregon State’s 2023 preseason football camp on Aug. 3.
Here is the fourth of 10 countdown topics: The most impactful freshman
Oregon State greets about 30 freshmen, including walk-ons, when camp opens Aug. 3.
Six got a head start this spring by enrolling early. We’ll turn the spotlight on those six, since they have a sizable experience advantage over the rest.
That’s not to say someone can’t make their program debut in August and impact the 2023 Beavers. They have before, and they probably will this season. Witness Jermar Jefferson in 2018, Luke Musgrave in 2019, Jack Velling in 2022.
The six freshmen available in March and April for spring practice were quarterback Aidan Chiles, receivers Tastean Riddicks, Montrel Hatten Jr. and Zachary Card and defensive linemen Kelze Howard and Thomas Collins. We say “available” because Riddicks, Hatten and Card mostly watched this spring because of minor injuries.
It’s unlikely Chiles will be an impactful freshman. If this were 2018, he’d be front and center. This being 2023, the Beavers have depth at quarterback and will look to have Chiles learn during a redshirt season.
Riddicks, Hatten Jr. and Card are all possibilities. There will be opportunities at receiver, as only Anthony Gould, Silas Bolden and Jesiah Irish are certain contributors. It’s a guess as to which freshman receiver is most ready come September.
The hunch here is the 6-foot-3, 270-pound Howard finds a way to make the most meaningful impact on the 2023 roster.
A 4-star prospect, Howard is one of the highest rated defensive recruits in OSU history. The Beavers won Howard’s signature over schools like Michigan, Oregon, Utah, Miami and Nebraska. He got acclimated to Oregon State’s defensive system in the spring. Howard is precisely the type of quick, athletic lineman who thrives in OSU’s defensive system.
Howard won’t start, but it’ll be a surprise if he doesn’t quickly work his way into the defensive line rotation. The Beavers typically use six to eight linemen in games, so there’s opportunity.
Howard also provides Oregon State with a chance to show future recruits that it can develop and utilize top-flight talent.

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