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Oregon State football: After making some friends 'on the dark side,' Jovan Stevenson switches back to offense

Player proves worth with versatility

CORVALLIS (AP) – Jovan Stevenson came to Corvallis as a running back, and admitted last season he was a bit disappointed when he got switched to defensive back.

The Beavers needed some depth in the secondary in 2012, and Stevenson, a high school cornerback, was a natural choice. It was an adjustment – Stevenson told a reporter last fall “It’s been four years since I’ve actually backpedaled” – but one Stevenson made well. He recorded just two tackles but secondary coach Rod Perry spoke highly of him. He was finally starting to fit in.

Then August of 2013 rolled around, and the Beavers again are in need of depth … at running back.

Naturally, they turned to Stevenson, who is becoming one of the most versatile players on the roster according to coach Mike Riley (Stevenson plays on both the Beavers’ return teams, too).

“I kind of left it to him (if he wants to stay there), but I thought he could step back in and not miss a beat, really,” Riley said of Stevenson. “Our terminology is all the same, and he’s experienced at that position and has played well. He’s kind of a three-way player.”

Stevenson put on a white jersey Wednesday night to fill in for backup running back Terron Ward, who sat out with a beat up, bruised body. Earlier Wednesday, starter Storm Woods was sidelined. Redshirt freshman Chris Brown has made some improvements, but practicing with just two options is not something Riley wants to get used to.

“It’s bittersweet,” Stevenson said of the switch. “I made a lot of friends on the dark side. When I went over last night all the guys on the offense were like, ‘Welcome back,’ and all the defensive guys were saying, ‘You’re the enemy.’

“But I just want to help the team in any way I can. I’m still playing football, so I can't really complain.”

There was this, too – Stevenson admitted with a big grin that he “had a smile on my face all day,” after the switch, and that it’s good to be “doing what I love.”

Though Perry has asked that Stevenson keep up with defensive back second unit, the running back position probably suits Stevenson better. He played in nine games as a running back in 2011, starting two. He was very good in the backup role in 2011, rushing for 99 yards on 17 carries vs. Arizona, and scoring three touchdowns against Washington.

So are there any other positions he’d like to try before his college football career comes to a close?

“Linebacker?” he suggested. “Defensive end?

“I told Coach, ‘Put me where you need me.’”

Clearly, Stevenson's not limiting his options.

Riley keeps practice short and sweet

Friday’s practice was short and sweet for the Oregon State football team.

The Beavers are coming to an end of the first three weeks of fall camp and begin game week on Monday, so coach Mike Riley had them go through a little lighter day.

The team worked on game situation transitions.

“Where you go one team to the next,” Riley said. “You go nickel to defense stay in to having them get into punt returns.”

Getting ready for game action gives the players and coaches a little more of a lift than running through drills.

“It brings it all a little more to life,” Riley said. “You spend a lot of time just drilling plays and all that stuff, but this I think makes especially the young guys bring it all forward a little bit.”

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