Duck 2012 Preview: Linebackers

Last season, four of the top eight Oregon tacklers were linebackers. Two of those linebackers return to make this year's addition of the Oregon linebacker corps perhaps the best ever at Oregon.

(PHOTO) Oregon Ducks linebacker Kiko Alonso (47) sacks Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Russell Wilson (16) for a Wisconsin loss of 7-yards during the first half in the 2012 Rose Bowl game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Led by seniors Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso, the Ducks will mold experience and talented youth to a group that will has the talent level to rotate in fresh bodies frequently throughout a game without losing and speed on the field. Clay, Alonso and junior Boseko Lokombo figure to be the starters, but plenty of underclassmen will see the field as well.

Clay had a sensational season in 2011 and was the team's second leading tackler in total tackles with 102 (54 solos) but was also the conferences second leading tackler in average tackles per game at 9.3 tackles per game. Among his tackles, Clay recorded 8.5 tackles for loss including three sacks. He also two interceptions, two break ups, four pass deflections, forced two fumbles and recovered two fumbles including one of the biggest fumble recoveries in Oregon history late in the Rose Bowl that virtually cinched an Oregon victory.

After spending nearly two seasons out because of injuries and personal problems, Kiko Alonso overcame to shine in the Rose Bowl and win the distinction of being the Most Valuable Defender in the 98th Rose Bowl game against Wisconsin. Alonso finished the year 46 total tackles (28 solos), including six TFLs, 2.5 of which were sacks, two interceptions, two deflections and a quarterback hurry.

Lokombo had 33 total tackles a year ago (22 solos) including 3.5 TFLs of which two were sacks. He was also very active by picking off two passes for interceptions (one of which was returned against Stanford for a touchdown). He also had three break ups, five pass deflections, a quarterback hurry, a forced fumble and a recovered fumble. Lokombo led all linebackers with a 330-pound power clean, a 2.84-second electronic 20-yard and a 4.84-second electronic 40-yard dash during winter conditioning.

Other players that will see playing time on the field are:

Junior Keloni Kamalani a veteran of all 14 games last season recorded 22 tackles (12 solos) including a TFL plus forced a fumble. Kamalani was a Pac-12 all-academic honorable mention for 2011.

Sophomore Derrick Malone who appeared in all 14 games in 2011. Malone recorded 15 tackles (10 solos). Off the field, Malone was honored as a Pac-12 all-academic honorable mention.

Sophomore Anthony Wallace saw action in six games a year ago and had a total of eight tackles (six solos) one TFL, two break ups and two pass deflections.

Sophomores Isaac Ava (three games and had a tackle), Mike Garrity (two games, one tackle), Rodney Hardrick (four games, eight tackles, four solos, and two TFLs) and Grant Thompson (two games.)

Redshirt freshmen awaiting their turn are Rahim Cassell, scout team player of the week prior to the Arizona State game; Tyson Coleman who made a pick-6 in the spring game and Carlyle Garrick.

True freshman Brett Bafaro was part of the 2012 recruiting class and enrolled in the University of Oregon for summer session.

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