Fearless in-state DB looks for shot

THE STATE OF Oregon's last recruiting class produced a dozen high schoolers who signed with D-IA schools. In terms of talent, the 2007 version could be even better. Portland's Central Catholic High already boasts Beaver verbal Kevin Frahm plus transfer Myles Wade -- but the list doesn't stop there. Keep an eye on two more Rams; WR/ATH Joe Martin and hard hitting safety Jaden Kaufman.

Kaufman is 5-11, 200 pounds and brings the coffee table, the kitchen sink and half the garage with him when he hits someone.

"He'll knock the dog out of you," said Central Catholic coach Steve Pyne.

Kaufman is also known for setting the tone early. On the opening kickoff of the first two games last season, he simply decaffeinated the ballcarrier. A few weeks later and giving away 60 pounds, Kaufman took on a 6-4, 260-pound tight end in a tremendous collision. Kaufman broke the tight end's shoulder. He gave OSU commit Brady Camp a pretty good lick last year, too.

AND JUST AS important as any big hit, Kaufman is, pure and simple, a football player.

"We don't win games without Jaden Kaufman on the field," said Pyne. "In two years he's returned nearly every punt and kickoff for us and he is an impact defensive player for us. Jaden understands leverage. He's got great speed and he covers extremely well."

KAUFMAN RACKED UP 61 tackles last year, three interceptions and numerous pass breakups. He broke off 24 punt returns for 368 yards and 1 TD (15.3 avg); 8 KO returns for 177 yards and 1 TD (22.1 avg); 49 carries for 272 yards (5.6 avg) and had 5 catches for 151 yards (30.2 avg).

"I told him two years ago as a sophomore don't ever drop a punt, he said, 'Okay,' and that was the end of that," said Pyne. "And he's got some shift to him, but he'd just as soon run you over."

Oregon, Boise State, Idaho and Portland State are among the schools showing early interest. In something of a surprise, OSU has not yet been showing him the recruiting love but it's early still.

AT A COMBINE recently in Eugene, Kaufman ran one of the better 40 times with an electronically timed 4.62. At Oregon's half day camp, one of the coaches pulled him aside and told him he was the best defensive back there.

"Jaden is, I think, very special as a football player," said Pyne. "He's always going forwards. He has all the requisite skills to be a Pac-10 player. He is instinctual. It's not the scheme that gets him there, he just understands what he's doing on the football field. And he gets there with a bad attitude."

Jaden Kaufman profile

Check in tomorrow for the story on Central Catholic's Joe Martin

The 12 players in the 2006 class from Oregon who signed Letters-of-Intent to D-IA schools: Gabe Miller, (Oregon State); Brady Camp, (Oregon State); Kyle Loomis, (Oregon State); Mau Nomani, (Oregon State); Keo Camat, (Oregon State); Cody Kempt, (Oregon); Bo Thran, (Oregon); Kevin Riley, (California); Jeron Mastrud, (Kansas State); Brandon Lemon, (Air Force); Johnny Wasniewski, (Army); Sam Doman, (BYU)

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