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August 21, 2009There is no one on the football team in a more visible light than the quarterback. They are the hero when things go well and the goat when things go bad.
Oregon State has been blessed with talented signal callers over the years who not only accept their role in the spotlight on the field, but off of it as well. Throughout the past five years, Sean Canfield has endured the good and the bad, and is embracing his last year at the helm of Oregon State football.
It hasn't been an easy ride. There has been criticism from fans, a constant position battle with Lyle Moevao, and an injury that set back his progress. But through it all, he has emerged stronger, more poised and mature and is looking forward to what lies ahead.
Canfield has grown on the field and off. When we first spoke to him during his sophomore year, he was shy and a direct opposite of the energetic Moevao. Players were drawn to Moevao's leadership and magnetic personality, and the one time heir apparent to Matt Moore was facing a position battle for one of the first times in his life.
Canfield countered by doing what he knew best. He put his head down and started working. By the end of 2007 fall camp, neither Canfield nor Moevao had completely separated themselves from each other, but Canfield got the nod.
Struggles with interceptions led the fan base to get impatient, but Riley's loyalty to Canfield didn't waver. As things were starting to click with Canfield, a late hit during the USC game led to a shoulder injury, which opened the door for Moevao.
Moevao led the 2008 Beavers, until ironically a shoulder injury sidelined him. Stepping in and leading the team to some big road victories, Canfield looked poised and confident. He has grown a great deal since the early days, and through it all he has handled everything thrown at him with class.
Now prepared to embark on his senior season, Canfield is ready to make a statement. With Moevao slowly working on a comeback, it is Sean leading the team.
"It feels great. I feel like I've been here forever," Canfield said. "I've seen a lot of things happen, but you take nothing for granted. It is my last year, my last go 'round so I'm just taking it all in."
After five fall camps, Canfield is no stranger to the grind of it all. But while many players walked off the field looking exhausted, Canfield had a smile on his face and lingered to talk to fans and media recently. It almost looked like he was enjoying it.
"I'm absolutely having fun," Canfield said. "You have to remind yourself everyday, especially on these two a days when you wake up early and you're out here and it is all wet still, but you just have to love it because it only comes around once."
He is also missing the competition with Moevao this fall.
"Well I'm a little more tired at the end as I'm getting more reps," he laughed. "But I wish he was here as I love competition. Competition brings the best out of the players. It is unfortunate that he isn't 100% yet, considering the injuries, it is just an advantage for us to have two quarterbacks, but it's been fun and it's been an advantage for me to get those extra reps."
The advantage has paid off in the form of completions. Coach Riley recently stated that Canfield is throwing at a remarkable 70% completion rate, something the coach said is rare for fall camp.
He has become very serious about the year ahead and has been working hard with the receivers and on his physical condition throughout the past year.
"Yeah, I was fat before..." he said laughing. "No, I feel great. I am in the best shape of my life. Over the winter I wanted to lose some weight and so I started jogging and I just kept going. I lost about 15 pounds and I feel great."
After a week and a half of camp, the other noticeable is his deep ball and relationship with the receivers. His field vision seems improved and he has been much quicker at making his reads.
"It is really a matter of being here for so long, I've been here five years so that much time in an offense things are going to slow down and you're going to make your reads quicker and understand the defense a lot better," he said. "A lot of it is film study which comes with time as well. By the fifth year you get real comfortable with what you're doing."
"As far as the receivers they are just running great routes," he added. "We have some big targets and guys with speed so a lot of guys are getting open. Coach Locey really stresses route running and he is always on those guys about every little thing about running their route so it really helps. It contributes to the execution."
Canfield is down to his final term as a Beaver and after completing one class in his major Philosophy, he will be ready to graduate. He is excited for what the future holds and the fact that he can completely focus on football this season.
"I'll be in one class and then football the rest of the time," he said. "I'll be in there (Valley Football Center) by about 9 or ten every morning."
Watching Canfield's development it becomes very apparent that the Beavers are building the program the right way. Not only are the coaches teaching the players to be standouts on the football field, they are preparing them for life off of it as well.
Canfield is excited about the year ahead, but he stopped mid-interview to watch freshman Cody Vaz complete a pass.
"There you go!" he exclaimed. "They're a talented group. Ryan (Katz) is doing really well. I think coming in early was big for him like it was for me. He is starting to settle into the offense. Peter (Lalich) is coming along too. He's a guy who hasn't been here long and hasn't taken a lot of reps, but everyday he is just learning something new."
Beaver Nation anxiously awaits the start of the football season and #5 is just as excited.
"I can't wait for the 5th," he said. "We want to go out and have some fun this year."