There are several reasons why Omar Speights could return to Oregon for his fifth and final year of college in 2023.
The Speights held a Senior Day ceremony ahead of the Beavers’ 38-34 win over Oregon on November 26. Speights graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business this fall. During his four-year career, Speights has proven himself to be one of the most prolific linebackers in his OSU history. He’s likely to get an NFL shot.
So why come back?
“It’s 50-50 right now,” Speights said Tuesday as the Beavers geared up for Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl game against Florida at Allegiant Stadium.
Speights plans to ponder the issue over the Christmas holidays. If he decides to return, Speights said he would consider developing some areas of the game needed for an NFL career. He’s 9-3 with the Beavers this season, but he feels there’s more left to do.
Speights hopes to finish ahead of defensive coordinator Trent Bray in career tackles for OSU. Bray recorded 337 tackles during his career with the Beavers. Speights bowls his game with a 302 header.
“That’s what’s in the back of my mind and it’s keeping Coach Bray on edge,” Speights said.
Bray isn’t the only former Beavers defensive great in danger of giving way to the Speights should he return. It would take 114 tackles for Speights to overtake his OSU top tackler Steve Brown in his career.
Saturday could also be Speights’ college swan song: The 6-foot-1-inch, 233-pound Crescent Valley High School graduate has played in 44 games for OSU, making 37 appearances. Speights has been named to the All-Conference three times, and this season he has tallied 77 tackles and was named to the top team this year.
Speights says what happens will be a family decision. Although he feels his NFL is ready, he says he doesn’t mind doing another year in the classroom.
Oregon State’s potential 2023 roster piques his interest, too.
“A lot of players are back, and if I choose to come back, we’ll do much better,” Speights said.
dinner time: One of the highlights of an Oregon Bowl trip for aggressive linemen is the weekday dinner. His 23-man offensive line crew of the team will head to the Vegas Strip for dinner at an elegant buffet on Tuesday night.
Senior Light Guard Brandon Kipper pays the bills after collecting money from everyone. Last year, the aggressive line went to a Brazilian steakhouse during LA Bowl Week, where Kipper recalls the tab came in at around $2,300.
“It’s a great opportunity to sit down as a group and spend time together,” Kipper said.
Smith remembers Mike Leach: Oregon coach Jonathan Smith battled Mississippi coach Mike Leach, who died Monday of heart failure, for much of a decade.
Smith was Washington’s offensive coordinator from 2014-17 as the Huskies beat the Washington State Cougars of Leach four times in a row. Smith also coached Leach in his first two of his seasons at Oregon State.
“Yeah, great job. Great man on the job. Thank you for my first year at the Pac-12, coach meetings, conversations with him and giving me advice,” Smith said.
“He’s done a lot of great things, not just for the game, but for the people he surrounded himself with. He’s done a lot for others. ”
— Nick Daschel reports from Las Vegas.
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