Profile: Steve Stephens
Position: Defensive Back
Location: Fresno (Calif.) Edison
Weight: 185 pounds
Recruiting: In addition to Oregon, Stephens was also looking at Colorado, LSU, Oklahoma, UCLA and USC but in recent weeks, it was pretty clear the Ducks were in the drivers seat here. The only other school Stephens visited in his final group was USC but all the buzz was with Oregon after his visit to Eugene just two weeks ago. Stephens said he knew while he was walking around on campus that Oregon was the place for him. He said he loved the energy and enthusiasm of the coaching staff, liked the opportunity to compete for playing time right away and had a strong comfort level on campus and in the city of Eugene. He bonded well with both head coach Willie Taggart and safety coach Keith Heyward and said everything just felt right about the Ducks.
What to Like: Stephens is one of the premier safeties, not only out west but in the country. He has a great feel for the position, is a very instinctual player with good ball skills and has a chance to develop into an impact player early in his college career. His cover skills are tremendous and he'll be able to line up against slot receivers and be a huge presence defending the pass. In fact, his cover skills are so strong, we could see him playing corner in certain schemes in the Ducks defense. He has worked hard to add size and bulk to his frame and will need to continue to do so to be a force in the run game but all the physical tools are there for him to be an early impact player. He's also a natural leader who plays with a ton of energy that should be infectious for his teammates.
Areas to improve: As mentioned, Stephens needs to bulk up a bit more and really devote himself to the weight room when he hits college and we're very confident he'll have no problem doing that. He's a natural safety but has more of a corner frame right now so adding a solid 10-15 pounds will be good for him. He checks off every other box in what you want in a college safety. He is not just physically talented but a very smart, high IQ player who understands the game and should be able to make a quick transition when he hits campus.
Overall Analysis: Stephens is a great pickup for Oregon and continues the strong momentum the school has right now. He is a national recruit who could have gone just about anywhere he wanted and was being pursued by both L.A schools, UCLA and USC as well. Add in the fact that Stephens is an early enrollee and will be in Eugene for spring ball next year and it will be surprising if he doesn't see the field as a true freshman.