Inside four of Oregon State's most interesting signees
A closer look at four of Oregon State's football recruits …
• Charles "Moku" Watson initially gave a verbal commitment to Washington State, but in September, decommitted.
"I prayed on it with my family," Watson says. "We decided it would be best for me to stay open-minded and take all my visits."
The 6-2, 180-pound safety from Wahlawa, Hawaii, wound up receiving 11 scholarship offers and boiled his choices down to Brigham Young and Oregon State before choosing the Beavers on Jan. 21.
"I love everything about Oregon State," Watson says. "I love (head coach Gary Andersen) and all of his coaches. I love the atmosphere in Corvallis. I just felt comfortable there. It reminds me of home, with the trees and fresh air. And it's been my dream to play for a Pac-12 school."
But Watson liked BYU, too.
"The hardest decision of my life," he says. "BYU did a great job recruiting me. I have a bunch of family who live there. It came down to my heart. My heart was with the Beavers."
Watson's Polynesian middle name is "Moutonu." He goes by "Moku" now, but when he was younger, it was "Motu."
"A lot of people mistook it and called me 'Moku boy,' and that stuck," Watson says. "It's been 'Moku' forever."
A two-year starter at safety, cornerback and receiver for Leilehua High, Watson was a first-team All-State selection, the No. 3-rated prospect in Hawaii and No. 13 safety on the West Coast.
A 2.8 student, Watson is looking at a double major at Oregon State.
"But communications is what I want to do," he said. "Once I'm done playing football, I want to be a broadcaster, an actor or something like that."
Watson doesn't envision a redshirt season, not with the Beavers being thin at the safety position.
"I think I can start right away," he says. "I feel like I'm ready to come in and compete and make in impact on the program as a freshman."
• David Morris received 11 scholarship offers from FBS schools, including Washington State, California, Utah and Oregon. The Beavers were first, though, and that resonated with the safety from Sherwood High.
"They were the first ones to believe in me," says Oregon's Class 6A Defensive Player of the Year. "I believe in what they're building with the program there. When I committed (in May), I knew I could see myself being there for four years."
A week after receiving the scholarship offer from Oregon State, Oregon followed. After Mark Helfrich was fired and Willie Taggart was hired as head coach, the Ducks made another bid.
UO coaches "came to my home and visited me," Morris says. "They didn't offer a scholarship, and I brushed it off pretty quickly. I knew I was going to stay with the Beavers."
Morris was a running back who accounted for 3,484 all-purpose yards and 37 touchdowns during his three-year varsity career, the last two as a two-way starter at running back and safety. The 6-2 1/2, 200-pound Morris enjoyed offense but figures defense will be his forte in college.
"I'd rather make the hit than take the hit," he says. "My passion for the game is on the defensive side of the ball."
Adley Rutschman, a kicker on the football team and catcher on the baseball team at OSU, was a senior at Sherwood when Morris was a junior, though he wasn't involved in the recruiting process with Morris.
"I learned a lot from him," Morris says. "He was a role model for me at Sherwood."
Morris, who will major in business at OSU, has been timed in 4.6 in the 40, "but I'm going to try to get that down into the 4.5s," he says. "I'll be doing track workouts this spring and working with a trainer, (former Oregon safety) Ryan DePalo, who is going to help me with technique."
Does Morris expect to redshirt next season?
"It wouldn't be horrible," he says, "but I feel like I'm ready to play."
Does he feel as if he could be a starter as a true freshman?
"I do," Morris says. "I'm really confident in myself. I'm going to do anything I can to give myself a jump start and be prepared for (August training) camp. I'm ready to get down there and work my butt off to try to earn early playing time."
• TraJon Cotton was the most highly sought-after player who signed with Oregon State. He received 21 offers from FBS programs, including Nebraska and every Pac-12 school except Southern Cal, Washington and Arizona.
Late in the recruiting process, the 6-1, 185-pound Sacramento native narrowed his choices to Colorado and Oregon State. Two weeks after a Jan. 13 recruiting visit to Corvallis, he picked the Beavers.
"I guess you could say," Cotton says, "it felt like home."
"I like Corvallis a lot," he says. "It's built for student-athletes. They love the Beavers there. You're almost like a celebrity if you play for them. It's a perfect situation for me. I'll thrive in that type of town.
"I like the whole coaching staff. I like the players a lot, too. During my visit, they were very welcoming. They were recruiting just as hard as the coaches. They want to get better. They know where they need to be. I want to win. Everybody on that team wants to win just as badly as I do. That was a big factor in my decision.
"And Coach Andersen is a great person. That was a big factor in my decision, too. In any situation I get into, he'll have my back. I know I can trust him. That's someone I want to play for."
Cotton — ranked the No. 3 safety in California, the No. 7 safety on the West Coast and the No. 46 safety nationally by Scout — was a quarterback and safety at Inderkum High, throwing for 2,834 yards and 29 touchdowns while rushing for 734 yards and 11 TDs during his career.
Did he consider trying to play quarterback in college?
"I did, but then, nah," he says with a laugh. "On defense, you have to have a little 'dog' in you. I think I have a little too much dog than I should to be playing quarterback."
An 11.3 sprinter and 6-2 high jumper as a junior, Cotton has run the 40 in 4.5. He is an honor-roll student who intends to major in business at OSU, with a minor in communications.
If it's up to him, Cotton will play as a true freshman.
"I'm hoping not to redshirt," he says. "I'm definitely coming in to try to take a spot. What makes for great players is competition. I'll challenge the older guys right away."
• Arex "Champ" Flemings got interested in Oregon State by watching highlight videos of Brandin Cooks, the former OSU receiver who won the Biletnikoff Award in 2013.
"My game is kind of similar to his," Flemings says, "and he's a smaller guy like me."
But not as small as Flemings, who is only 5-6 and 150.
That scared off some college scouts. The Altadena, Calif., native wound up with a half-dozen scholarship offers, including Washington State. "Nebraska came in and offered me at the last minute," Flemings says.
By that time, Flemings had decided on Oregon State.
"After I started watching Cooks, I told myself I could see playing at Oregon State," he says. "Then I went up there on my recruiting trip and the process was smooth. I love Coach Andersen, I really like the program, my parents are comfortable with it — it all worked out. It's where I want to be."
Flemings is a speed merchant who hauled in 155 receptions for 1,936 yards and 24 touchdowns his last two seasons at Cathedral High. His father, Reggie Flemings, nicknamed him "Champ" shortly after birth, "and it stuck."
In describing his style to OSU's sports information department, Flemings says this: "I bring electricity. Every time the ball is snapped, I'm going to make a difference — blocking, running a route to hold a safety for someone else to score, or making a play myself. Being this small, you have to play with a certain edge, confidence and swagger that makes you pretty much mentally untouchable."
Flemings adds this: "My mentality is what helps my teams win games. You can't break me. During a game, I'm going to break (his opponent) any way I can. I have that 'dog' in me you can't teach. I make plays everybody thinks are spectacular, that they 'ooh' and 'ah' about."
A 3.0 student — he earned a 3.71 last semester — Flemings hopes to major in business at Oregon State. He wants to play as a true freshman, too.
"Redshirting is not an option," he says. "I plan to play right away. They need receivers. They lost Victor Bolden. I feel I can be the next guy, like Victor and Brandin Cooks, who can bring that 'X' factor to the team."