Duck 2012 Preview: Defensive Line

The Oregon defensive line is becoming one of the strengths of the team by bringing back three returning starters and adding some of the best recruits ever to come to Oregon.

(PHOTO) Oregon Ducks defensive end Dion Jordan (96) tackles Wisconsin Badgers wide receiver Jared Abbrederis (4) during the first half in the 2012 Rose Bowl game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

The Oregon Ducks were fifth in the conference last year in points allowed (24.6 points per game) total defense (390.1) rushing defense (142.8) and pass defense (247.3).

This season the defense has talented experience in three starters, junior tackles Wade Keliikipi and Taylor Hart plus senior end Dion Jordan.

Jordan is the recognizable star of this group and according to the Oregon coaching staff will see time the NFL after his playing days at Oregon are finished. Already on the Bednarik Award watch list for the top defensive player of the year, Jordan returns his .54 sacks per game (fifth in the conference in 2011). Overall, Jordan had 42 tackles last season (25 solos) including 13 tackles for loss including 7.5 sacks. He also forced and recovered a fumble. Jordan started 12 of the 14 games he played in last year.

Keliikipi started 11 of the 14 games he appeared in 2012, recording 22 tackles (12 solos) including a tackle for loss and also forced a fumble.

Hart, was the leading tackler among the returning defensive linemen with 44 total tackles (20 solos) with three TFLs including 2.5 sacks. Hart was also credited with two pass deflections, two break ups and a quarterback hurry to go along with a forced fumble and a blocked kick.

Most likely sophomore defensive end Tony Washington will assume a starting role this year based on his 18 total tackles (11 solos) in 10 games last year. Washington had a sack among his tackles plus recorded a break up, deflection and forced a fumble in 2011.

Junior DT Ricky Heimuli could also see a starting role as he also played in all 14 games, notching up 22 total tackles (11 solos) and was in on a TFL plus given credit for a quarterback hurry.

Still another veteran that could start is senior lineman Isaac Remington, who played in every game last year and started in three. Remington had 31 total tackles (12 solos) in 2011 including four TFLs including 1.5 sacks. He also had two break ups and two deflections.

Junior Ryan Hagen made the most of his four appearances last year by recording four total tackles (three solos) two of which were sacks.

Junior Axel McQuaw saw the field three times in 2011 and made a solo tackle in the spring game last April.

Potential new faces on the defensive line in 2012 include defensive end Arik Armstead, 6-8, 297, who was generally considered the No. 1 player out of high school football last season. Armstead enrolled at the University of Oregon for spring term and saw action in the spring game recording a tackle and forcing a fumble in the final spring practice game.

DT Jared Ebert, sat out last season using his redshirt following his transfer from Iowa Western Community College where he was considered an eventual NFL draft pick. Ebert recorded four tackles (two solos) in the spring game. Ebert like Hart can also be used at the DE position. DE Koa Ka'ai also was a redshirt last year and holds the distinction of being scout player of the week for his work in preparation for the Washington game last year.

Junior Nick Morrison was also a member of the scout squad in 2011 as was red shirt freshman Ryan McCandless, sophomore David Kafovalu and redshirt freshman Sam Kemp who was the defensive scout team player of the week leading up to road win at Arizona.

Incoming defensive line players include Alex Balducci, 6-4, 275; Stetzon Bair, 6-9, 265, brother of former Duck star Brandon Bair; DeForest Buckner, 6-7, 230; Cody Carriger, 6-6, 230; and Terrance Daniel, 6-5, 220. Of this group, (including Arik Armstead) there were two members of the US Army All-America Bowl squad (Armstead and Balducci) while Buckner competed in the 2012 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl game at defensive end.

All new incoming defensive line players from the 2012 recruiting class are currently enrolled at the University of Oregon for summer session.

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