Right below Ohio State's superstar Chase Young, among the nation's sack leaders, is a player that has emerged as a dominate force on defense.
The PAC-12 conference is not always known its pass rushers, yet Oregon State's Hamilcar Rashed Jr. is poised to become a player that could play at the next level. For Rashed Jr., the talent was always there, but the opportunities did not come easy.
Since the age of five, Rashed Jr. has had a football in his blood. As a standout at Phoenix Union High School, Rashed Jr. once recorded 10 sacks in a game as a junior. After committing to Oregon State in 2016, he reasserted that season and did not play in any games. The following season he played in twelve games and made minimal contributions. His redshirt sophomore season saw Rashed Jr.'s numbers improve with an impressive 11.5 tackles for loss, along with 58 total tackles and 2.5 sacks in twelve games played.
Fast forward to Saturday's against Arizona State, when he recorded his fifth game this season with two or more sacks, and played a major part in their victory over the Sun Devils. His two sacks increased his season total to 14, which not only leads the PAC-12 conference, it currently sits him second in the nation; more impressive considering he did start in their season opener. Yet for his coaches and teammates who have watched him grow since his sophomore year, this breakout season was inevitable.
"Obviously I think it's been great for him obviously coming back in his second year," Beavers defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar told 'The Oregonian' back in October. "He's got a much better understanding of the techniques we are asking to do. He's really been able to grow as a second-year player in this system, and what were are asking him to do really suits what he does well."
With his team sitting at 5-5, a bowl game may not be in the cards for him; the NFL however may be an entirely different story. As his sack numbers continue to increase, so are the number NFL teams taking notice of the athletic pass rusher out of Oregon State. Yet with more room to grow, Rashed Jr. is still a work in progress. Whether he decided to leave for the NFL or come back for his senior season, Rashed Jr. has set a standard through which future defensive players in this program will always be measured against.