A year ago, few thought a 5'11", 230-pound Samoan who had a funny last name would be the starting quarterback of Oregon State. But Lyle Moevao is here, by chance or fate, and he is Mike Riley's destined leader.
His road to the starting role is even more of an enigma. A defensive end in high school, he played at OSU pipeline El Camino Junior College as quarterback.
Completing 167 passes out of 267 for 2,652 yards and 29 touchdowns with only nine picks. A one-star recruit coming into Corvallis for the 2007 season, he entered into a quarterback battle with successor to be: Sean Canfield.
Many felt Canfield was the future. A prototype NFL quarterback at 6'5" 215 pounds, with a long arm, few saw Moevao even having a chance. The Utah game was used as a testing grounds for both QBs.
Canfield would play the first half and Moevao would play the second. Neither impressed, accounting for six picks between the two of them. But it was clear Canfield would become the starter.
However, Canfield would be injured during the USC game on a scramble and Moevao would once again get his chance. Things had started to turn the corner of a team that began 2-3.
Moevao would go into the Washington game looking to help preserve a winning season. In a game marred with turnovers, penalties, and questionable refereeing, Moevao would earn his first career win as a starter.
The undersized quarterback was far from stellar completing only 47 percent of his passes for 109 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. But a win was a win, and his enormous block on DE Grayson Gunheim off a fly sweep to James Rogers electrified the crowd.
He would steadily improve over his next two starts over Washington State and Oregon accounting for 54.6 percent completion for 447 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Helping the Beavers finish 8-4 and third in the Pac 10 with a berth in the Emerald Bowl against Maryland.
Unfortunately he would suffer a slight injury in his fourth start down in San Francisco and Canfield would take over to secure a Beaver win, there has been nothing but excitement smattered with speculation since then for Moevao's future.
Reports out of fall camp have been nothing but good. He's even dropped some weight cutting down to 217 pounds to make even more agile and mobile. There are rumors that Riley will incorporate him more into the running game as he had several decent carries in the Civil War that were neutralized with fumbles in both attempts.
If he can learn to hang on to the ball this could open up a whole different world for Riley's West Coast offense.
Helping out the Junior QB will be perhaps the deepest core of wide receivers in the Pac-10. All-American Sammie Stroughter will return along with game experienced James Rogers, Darrell Catchings, and Chris Johnson.
Also noted is the trend that quarterbacks in Mike Riley's system usually improved greatly after a season. Examples being Derek Anderson 2003-2004 and Matt Moore 2005-2006. Both now NFL quarterbacks.
Moevao has Beaver faithful holding their breath. But his natural charm, love of the game, and seemingly good potential are all things to look forward to.