Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said he wanted to leave everything on the field Saturday night in the season finale against Arizona State.
And that meant more opportunity for Camas High graduate Jack Colletto.
“We wanted to have fun this week,” Smith said. “We wanted to error on the side of aggression this week. So we had a few more trick plays in the plan, extended the Colletto plan, which actually worked out pretty well.”
The Colletto plan involves taking the junior linebacker and making him a part-time quarterback on short-yardage situations.
Colletto finished with a season-best six rushes for 44 yards, converted four first downs, scored two touchdowns and added a two-point conversion run in the Beavers’ 46-33 loss to the Sun Devils at Reser Stadium.
“When I was playing quarterback, it was an effective package, so we just stuck with it,” Colletto said. “They expanded it a little bit, and I was able to get bigger and stronger. And it’s been a very successful package these last few weeks.”
Colletto’s 1-yard touchdown run on third-and-goal, plus his conversion run, got Oregon State with 26-15 right before halftime. He added an 11-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that got the Beavers within 33-21.
He finished the season with 128 yards on 15 carries. Prior to coming up short of the first down on his final carry Saturday, Colletto was 13 for 13 on converting on third- or fourth-and-short this season when he ran the ball. He did have one incomplete pass against Oregon.
“He brings energy to our offense,” Smith said. “I feel confident with it when he starts to run onto the field. I know the (offensive) line – that group gets excited about it. I thought we did a good job of expanding that package, so we’re not running the same play over and over. We got different run fits thrown at him, and it turned into some creases for Jack.”
It’s a much different role than Colletto envisioned for himself when he arrived in Corvallis.
Colletto was the Gatorade state player of the year in high school in 2016, when he passed for 2,846 yards and rushed for 1,253 in leading Camas to the 4A state championship.
But when college programs started looking at him as more of an athlete than a quarterback, Colletto opted for the junior-college route, playing one season at Arizona Western before joining the Beavers for his sophomore season.
He played in eight games at quarterback for the Beavers in 2018, making one start. He passed for 201 yards and also rushed for five touchdowns, including two in an overtime win at Colorado.
Colletto moved to predominantly to linebacker in 2019, but he did have one rushing touchdown at quarterback. An injury cut his season short, and he redshirted.
But in this COVID-shortened 2020 season, Colletto was looking to do more. He played in all seven games, recording 14 tackles on defense while also playing on special teams.
And, of course, there was the Colletto package on offense.
“It’s definitely really fun,” Colletto said. “Coming into the season, I talked with Coach Smith. I definitely like being out on the field more than I like watching the game. I told him I’m willing to do whatever I can possible to help the team.”
Just getting to be able to play at all this season was blessing, Colletto said, especially since Oregon State was one of two Pac-12 teams to play seven games this season.
“Definitely just dealing with adversity and uncertainty,” he said when asked what he’d remember most of the season. “That’s definitely a big thing that I’ve tried to focus on this offseason is being able to grow as an individual, focus on personal growth. I think a lot of that has helped me through these times.
“We have people opting out for COVID reasons. Sometimes not knowing if you’re going to play because of all the COVID issues going on. And I think that says a lot about the people in the locker room right now, and everything they’ve done. They just kept fighting and kept pushing for just the love of the game, honestly. And just appreciated everyone in that locker room.”
And it’s why he’s hopeful for the future, even though Oregon State finished the season 2-5. He’ll return next season with still two years of eligibility left.
“Last year we were competitive in a lot of games, but this was really the first year when every single game has gone down to the wire” before Saturday’s game, Colletto said. “And 2-5, although that’s our record right now and it sucks that that’s our record, it could have easily been three more wins if we were able to change a few plays. And that’s the positive thing. We were so close. And if we can just put together a really good offseason and come ready to play next year, I think the results are going to be a lot different.”