Gumbs eager to pump up Oregon State defense
CORVALLIS — There is no doubt Addison Gumbs expects big things of himself as he enters his first football season at Oregon State.
"I want to be the best player in the Pac-12 next season," said the sophomore linebacker, a transfer from Oklahoma. "I have a lot of high aspirations. I've got to strive for it. I think about that type of stuff every day."
Gumbs isn't just blowing smoke. He saw spot duty at Oklahoma as a true freshman in 2017, registering eight tackles in four games.
Last season, the Hayward, California, native had earned a starting outside linebacker spot for the Sooners before suffering a season-ending ACL knee injury the week before the team's season-opening 63-14 victory over Florida Atlantic. Oklahoma went on to finish 12-2 and lose 45-34 to Alabama in the Orange Bowl, a semifinal game in the College Football Playoff.
Out of high school, Gumbs fielded scholarship offers from such schools as Washington, Oregon, USC, UCLA, Nebraska and Tennessee before deciding on Oklahoma.
Shortly after suffering the injury, Gumbs decided to transfer.
"I can't get too much into the reasons," he said. "I loved the coaches at Oklahoma. I loved Coach (Lincoln) Riley and Coach (Bob) Stoops (the former Oklahoma head coach) and all the players. I just felt it was best at the time of the injury for me to come back to the West Coast. I'm happy to be a Beaver."
Gumbs had several ties to Oregon State. Out of high school, he got a scholarship offer from then-OSU coach Gary Andersen. Gumbs met current OSU coach Jonathan Smith while being recruited by Washington. Current OSU linebackers coach Trent Bray recruited Gumbs while Bray was at Nebraska. Current OSU receivers coach Kefense Hynson was a member of the Hawaii staff that offered Gumbs a scholarship.
OSU cornerback DeShon Wilson was a prep teammate in Hayward. Gumbs said he has always been a fan of the Pac-12.
"I grew up watching a lot of pass-rushing linebackers from the league go high in the (NFL) draft, and they've had a lot of success in the NFL," Gumbs said. "That was attractive to me."
OSU defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar — a former linebackers coach at Wisconsin — was a draw, too.
"I really liked Coach Tibesar's defense," Gumbs said. "He put a ton of guys into the NFL when he was at Wisconsin. I feel like I can be one of those guys for him here."
Gumbs also felt he could play immediately at OSU.
"I can be an impact player who can help free up some of our other guys to get one-on-ones off the edge," he said. "I'm a player who can be real destructive for the defense."
Gumbs arrived in Corvallis in January, rehabbing his knee and acclimating himself to a new environment.
"I've been impressed so far with his football intelligence," Tibesar said. "He's a football junkie who wants to come up and watch (video) with me. He's still doing recovery from a physical standpoint, but he brings the kind of size and speed that we're looking for at the outside linebacker position."
The 6-3 Gumbs weighed 255 pounds last season but now weighs 245 to 250.
"I want to keep that weight," he said. "We did different things in Oklahoma's defense than what we do here. I felt quick at 255, but I feel being a little lighter might help me in (pass) coverage."
Brothers Isaac and Isaiah Hodgins played against Gumbs in the California high school playoffs.
"I know he's a guy who can help us," said Isaac Hodgins, a starting defensive end. "We need some size at outside linebacker. He's a big dude."
Gumbs practiced against the last two Heisman Trophy winners at Oklahoma — quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.
"That was a great experience," Gumbs said. "Baker is a great guy, was a great teammate and a heck of a player. I loved playing with him and Kyler. Kyler is so quick, he's not like any other quarterback. He'll be a real good NFL quarterback if he decides he's going to take that route (instead of pro baseball). If I were an NFL team, I'd definitely pick him up."
Gumbs is still rehabbing his knee and will be limited in what he can do during spring ball.
"But I'm getting close," he said. "Rehab has been going real good. I'm way ahead of schedule."
Gumbs is aware how weak Oregon State's defense was last season. He feels strongly it's going to be much different this season.
"With me and (Nebraska transfer) Avery Roberts coming in, with players from last year getting a year's experience, with the 'Juco' D-linemen we brought in — it's going to be a whole lot better in the front seven next year," he said. "I'm pumped. I'm super excited for this season to come around."