Cole, Beavers will part company

Ryan Cole’s career at Oregon State University is over.

Roland Cole, Ryan’s father, confirmed this week his son has asked for and been given a release from his scholarship.

“He’s going to leave Oregon State,” Roland Cole said from his home Thursday afternoon. “As of March 31, he is gone from OSU.”

Cole, who graduated from South Kitsap High School in 2002 after a record-shattering grid career for the Wolves, decided to leave after finding out in a meeting with coach Mike Riley he would not be the featured back in the Beavers’ offense next season.

“We sat down and asked him, ‘What do you have in store for Ryan,’” Roland Cole said.

The answer they got was that Riley is going to a two-back system that will feature the quarterback and receivers and Ryan’s main duties would be as a blocking back.

Consequently, Ryan decided to leave OSU and try his luck elsewhere.

“I don’t like the fact that he is walking away from a Division I scholarship,” Roland Cole said. “But we have to do what’s best for Ryan.”

Cole, who was recruited to OSU and signed by then-coach Dennis Erickson, played two full seasons for the Beavers after redshirting his freshman year.

Last year, Cole rushed for 210 yards on 80 carries and scored twice. He also caught 10 passes for 77 yards.

During Cole’s freshman year, he ran just 15 times for 82 yards.

Cole’s best game came Oct. 23 against Washington State, as he racked up 102 yards on 12 carries, including a 79-yard scoring run, the longest of his college career.

Calls to the Oregon State sports information office were not returned.

Roland Cole said Erickson recruited Ryan to be Stephen Jackson’s backup at the time and said he would get his chance to start once Jackson was gone.

However, Erickson left the following year to take the head-coaching job with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and Mike Riley was brought in to replace him.

Riley, who coached the Beavers in 1997-1998 before leaving for a similar job with the San Diego Chargers, replaced Erickson and has moved the program to a more pass-oriented offense.

“Riley wants him to stay,” Roland Cole said. “But we’re going back into the recruiting mode. He is being recruited again.”

Cole will transfer to a Division I-AA school so he can play next year. If he were to transfer to a Division I school, he would have to sit out a year and have just one more year of eligibility left.

OSU has given Ryan permission to talk with three I-AA schools — Eastern Washington University, Idaho State University and Montana State University. Ryan has already taken a recruiting trip to EWU and will visit ISU soon, his father said.

Eastern, for a variety of reasons, would appear to be the best fit for now.

First, EWU is on the same quarter class schedule OSU uses and Cole could be enrolled in classes in April and be eligible to participate in spring football.

Secondly, EWU went 9-4 last year and advanced to the second round of the I-AA playoffs but lost both of its running backs to graduation.

In addition, Cole’s high school coach, D.J. Sigurdson, is a graduate of EWU.

Idaho State went 3-8 last year and its leading rusher was freshman Josh Barnett, who carried 112 times for 476 yards.

Montana State’s leading rusher was junior Justin Domineck (183-736).

Cole was a two-time all-state running back at South. In three years, he accumulated 4,698 yards rushing on 508 carries and scored 71 times.

Coles first thought of transferring last year but decided to stay when Riley assured father and son that Ryan would be the featured back along with Dwight Wright.

Wright ended up with the majority of carries last year, prompting Ryan to explore his options.

“He’s proved he can play,” Roland Cole said. “Hopefully, where ever he lands, he will get to play based on his talent.”

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