Jonathan Smith, Wayne Tinkle and Dawn Shockley enjoyed a round of golf at Bend’s Tetherow Golf Club on Wednesday, then later found themselves in a room packed with scores of Oregon State University supporters at Broken Top Club.
The gathering marked the last stop on the Beaver State Tour, during which coaches and administrators visited different cities throughout Oregon over the past few weeks to reach out to Beaver Nation.
Smith, the OSU football coach, Tinkle, the men’s basketball coach, and Shockley, the women’s golf coach, answered questions from the crowd.
Oregon State radio play-by-play man Mike Parker served as master of ceremonies.
“There’s a ton of Beavers around here,” Smith said before the event started. “It’s great to be able to get face to face with a bunch of Beavers out in this part of the state.”
Entering his second year as head coach, Smith expressed enthusiasm for his in-state recruiting, including tight end Luke Musgrave, a Bend High product.
“Oh yeah, we’re excited about him,” said Smith, his hair still wet from getting caught in a thunderstorm on the links. “He’s the type of player we’re looking for. And we are looking for in-state kids. We want to find the best guys in this state that fit us, that can play at this level, and Luke for sure is one of those guys. He’ll be on campus in a couple of weeks.”
The Beavers finished a disappointing 2-10 last season in Smith’s first year, but Smith said the program is in better position at this point in the offseason than it was a year ago.
“It’s my second year for all of it, from the recruiting end to knowing the players better, to just knowing the lay of the land better,” said Smith, a former quarterback at Oregon State (1998-2001). “We’re farther ahead. We feel like we still have a lot of work to do. But we’re excited about doing it.”
He also talked about likely starting quarterback Jake Luton, a senior who for the first time in his career will have the same offensive coordinator (Brian Lindgren) in successive seasons.
“He’s made great strides,” Smith said of Luton. “He did awesome in spring ball and really improved his game, and there’s some benefit to being in the second year of the same system, same coach, same program. And I think what’s helped him, too, is (Nebraska transfer) Tristan Gebbia has come along and created some competition in the room. We’ve got two guys who we can score some points with.”
The Beavers’ defense was atrocious last season, allowing 537 yards per game, and opponents scored an average of 45.7 points per game. But Oregon State returns nine starters on defense, and Smith was impressed by their improvement during spring ball.
“We added some players into that mix,” Smith said. “We’re counting on those guys that got good experience last year to improve. We need to improve on that side of the ball. So we’re excited about that development and looking forward to August (preseason camp), and seeing where they’re at after having a great summer.”
Tinkle got some good news last week when both his son Tres Tinkle and point guard Ethan Thompson decided to stay at Oregon State next season. Both players had declared for the NBA draft and hired agents to help them through the process, though each ultimately decided that remaining in Corvallis was the best move. The Beavers finished 18-13 last season and failed to make the postseason.
“I’m thrilled to have those guys back,” Tinkle said Wednesday at Broken Top. “It was neat that they got to go through that (exploratory) experience, and get some workouts and get feedback. I know both of them are really motivated since they’ve been back. There’s been no second-guessing. Our new guys get here in 10 days, and we’ll be off and running with the offseason program.”
Wayne Tinkle said he tried to give Tres — a 6-foot-8 forward going into his senior year who averaged 20.8 points per game last season — good advice “as a coach and as a dad.”
“Which seemed like I was pulling him back to Oregon State,” Wayne said. “But I said, listen, it may seem like I’m trying to influence you to do this, but it’s what I really think is in your best interest as a dad and as your coach. He saw that. He’s got unfinished business.”