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Ryan Nall: Oregon State’s Wrecking Ball

One of the best Pac-12 running backs you may not know about

NCAA Football: Oregon at Oregon State Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

On many college football teams there is a guy that comes out of nowhere to make a name for himself. Players that bounce onto the scene almost have a sort of cult following around campus. Ryan Nall, running back, for the Oregon State Beavers is one of these type of players. He was a well kept secret for the Beavers. Not anymore.

Coming out of Portland’s Central Catholic High School, Ryan Nall, was a 6’2”, 238 pound tight end who almost became a linebacker for the Beavers. With the luck of the football gods, Nall was transformed into a running back for the Beavers.

In the recent past for the Beavers, the size and strength that Nall possessed was not what the team usually put forth onto the field.

Oregon State usually would have a smaller running back on the field like a Jacquizz Rodgers or a Ken Simonton. It wasn’t until the Beavers put Steven Jackson in their backfield that they broke the streak of small backs. Now the Beavers have another big running back.

It became quite apparent that Nall would be a running back that head coach Gary Andersen would not regret putting in the backfield.

During his freshman campaign Nall was inserted into games in different situations and soon thereafter, he became a crowd favorite with bone crushing runs. At the end of the year he had gained 455 yards on 73 carries. There was something there for the Oregon State coaching staff to build upon going into the next year.

This past season he more than doubled his rushing yards from his freshman year. Nall went from 455 yards on the ground to 951 and had a highlight reel full of runs that involved the defensive players laid out on his back wondering what hit him. The nickname of “Wrecking Nall” soon followed and it has stuck ever since.

He certainly was a more prominent part of the offense this past year. He had 15 total touchdowns for the Beavers. 13 of those touchdowns were on the ground and two of those touchdowns were through the air.

As the season progressed for Beavers, you could hear the home crowd get loud as the Beavers came out of the huddle and went into a run formation. The fans in the stands knew what was coming, but they also knew that the defense would have a hard time stopping what was coming at them.

The folk hero status was cemented this past November in the Civil War. Nall, his teammates, and the program had not beat the Ducks in football in eight years. Ryan Nall was not giving the Ducks the satisfaction of another win this past year.

Oregon came into the game limping to say the least, but this was the Civil War, a rivalry game, and anything was possible.

The impossible did happen. At least for Oregon State fans. The Beavers took the victory and broke the Duck win streak in the Civil War. Ryan Nall was a major part of that win.

Ryan Nall started off as a well hidden secret in the Pac-12, but not so much anymore. He will be a player that defensive coordinators will game plan for.

The question for Ryan Nall will he continue to show improvement in his game. Will the coaching staff try and move him around the field a little bit more, so the defenses can’t just put eight or nine guys in the box? The extension of Ryan Nall’s game will have to occur for that next level type of game.

Something in my gut believes that Ryan Nall will be up to the task of making defenses expend a ton of energy defending him all over the field.

From folk hero status to bona-fide Pac-12 Football Conference star, this is Ryan Nall.