What does it take to get noticed in college football these days? Be highly recruited by big name schools? Go play for a major program? Have a highlight tape that is phenomenal? How about if we go with choice “D”, all of the above? In some cases, you don’t have to check all those boxes that I mentioned. Sometimes you just have to go out and do your job as people thought you would coming out of high school. No huge fanfare, but a dedication to the game that people can’t argue against. Isaac Seumalo, an offensive lineman for the Beavers of Oregon State is exactly that kind of player.
What makes him noticeable? Well, to begin with it is his measurable statistics. Coming out of Corvallis High School, he was ranked at the top of best linemen in the country, and what made coaches salivate over this guy was that he measured the tape at 6’3” and tipped the scales at 310lbs. The other aspect that made him the number one recruit coming out of high school in Oregon, the number three lineman rated in the country, and the number 52 recruit in the entire country was that he could play any of the five positions on the line and be extremely successful at it.
He received so many offers from different schools that some people outside the program or even outside the state of Oregon wondered why go to Oregon State? There is a pretty simple answer to that question, family. His father was the offensive line/defensive line coach for Coach Riley, his brother, Andrew, was already on the team, playing defensive tackle for the Beavers. Why leave the comfort of home right? It is easy to see why the Beavers had the inside track to land Isaac Seumalo and why he decided to literally go about two miles up the road from Corvallis High School and attend Oregon State.
Once he stepped on the practice field for the Beavers, he was immediately inserted into the starting center position for the team. That turned heads with many people, but as coaches have known for a while now, if the player is talented and can handle it, you play him regardless of year in school. Isaac adapted quickly and had to because as the center of the team, he had to make all the line calls. His freshman year he started all games at center, only one of two true freshmen centers in college football. When 2013 rolled around, his reputation was well known by everybody in the Pac-12 as he started 12 games at center and two games at right tackle. Going from center to right tackle can be a challenge for most people, but not Seumalo. This move to right tackle for certain games showed his versatility and his willingness to do what was necessary for success on the field.
His attitude on the field has not come without it’s down side for him. He has been hurt a bit more than he or anybody anticipated. In 2013 he missed parts of spring practice due to an elbow injury, and he missed a regular season game due to a knee injury. The big blow came in the Hawaii Bowl game against Boise State where he injured his foot and after multiple surgeries on that foot, the new coaching staff for the Beavers remain hopeful he will be good to go come the opening game in 2015. With all the questions going into this question for Oregon State, the offensive line is not one of them, and if Seumalo is ready and able to strap the pads on, it adds more certainty for the rest of the team that this could be a better year than most people think.
Even though he hasn’t played any competitive football in over a year, Isaac Seumalo still grabs enough attention that he was recently put on the All-American 2nd team and on the 1st team All-Pac-12 team going INTO 2015. When he returns to the field he’ll also be on the Outland Trophy watch list, the Remington Trophy watch list, and Rotary Lombardi award watch list. Even injured, people know the potential of this young man and respect that ability.
Besides having difficulty pronouncing his last name (pronounced Say-u-mah-low), the most difficult thing that people have with Isaac Seumalo, especially defensive linemen in the Pac-12, is getting through to the quarterback. He just doesn’t let that happen when he is on the field. He’s leader on the field, makes the calls for the line, plays multiple positions and does that phenomenally. When Seumalo lines up across from these defensive linemen, they know they are in for a tough, physical, long day on the gridiron. He plays physical and makes sure he leaves his mark on the field, and most importantly, the players on the Oregon State football team know they can count on him.
Even though he is working to get back to the field from his injury he is certainly helping others on the team get better at their craft. Teammates say he is a guy that likes to hold people accountable and wants the players around him to perform to best of their abilities.
At the end of the day, Isaac Seumalo is, when healthy, and there is nothing to suggest that he won’t be for the upcoming season, is one of the best players in the Pac-12, if not the country at his position. I have every reason to believe that he’ll play at the next level and with a couple of seasons left because of his use of his redshirt year he will be a high round pick for a very fortunate NFL team. The other aspect of his game that will be put on display for the Coach Andersen era is that he’ll be showing how well he can block in a spread scheme and knocking guys into the third row on a block.
Like I stated in title of this column, Isaac Seumalo is the best lineman that you probably haven’t heard of, and hopefully after learning a bit about him, he won’t be an invisible guy anymore to you or anybody else that loves college football. He has made a mark, he’s looking to continue that mark on people and the game of football.