It's not that Lokombo is lacking experience, the senior started twelve games a year ago and had been one of the top reserves his first two years at Oregon, but being a leader is something that was left to Michael Clay, Dion Jordan and Kiko Alonso.
"Personally I want to grow as a leader and as a human being," he said. "I think Michael Clay, Dion, Kiko, all of those guys were great leaders in the past. They taught me a lot and I'm hoping to give back and do the same thing for the young guys."
What can Lokombo learn from his former teammates?
"The energy they brought to the defense. The chemistry they had with each other and myself. The way they loved the game and how they played it."
The losses in the middle might be mitigated by what is returning around them. Isaac Remmington and Johny Boyett are the only major losses to the defense outside of the three backers, meaning that players like Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Brian Jackson and Taylor Hart remain with the team to help the squad find it's chemistry.
"It's a big deal. I think it allows coach to feel more comfortable with the people we have back there. It's going to make it easier to build as a defense," Lokombo said.
In past years linebackers coach Don Pellum has shuffled through a six-to-eight man rotation, but with so many new and inexperienced players, predicting what that might look like come Aug. 31 is quite a challenge. Lokombo did say Tyson Coleman and Joe Walker appear to be the two candidates to play in the middle, mentioned Derrick Malone and Rahim Cassell at the other outside backer spot and Tony Washington playing where Jordan played.
Coleman in particular is a player Lokombo has become close with, calling him a "little brother", while saying he believes Coleman can do big things for this team this fall.
"I think right now Tyson is a prime-time player. He's very versatile. He's at the middle right now, he can play outside. He can do it all. I think the coaches are trying to see where he could best succeed at," Lokombo said.
The only newcomer this spring in the corps (or team for that matter) is Walker, a junior college transfer from L.A. Harbor College. With three years to play, many anticipate his impression to be long-lasting in the program. Lokombo says he's seen the athleticism, mostly in how he "runs", but also acknowledges that he is "young to the defense."
For Lokombo the new role is something he's anticipated since his freshman year and now that the time has come he's fully prepared to embrace.
"It's a blessing. I'm really taking it in stride right now. I'm really focusing on helping the younger guys, bring them up. I want us to be the best. I personally, want to be the best, so I'm trying to bring the younger to be just as good, just as great.
Ducks In Pads For First Time
Ducks participated in their first padded practice of the spring, head coach Mark Helfrich said that allowed them to work on more "down-and-distance" situational work. Helfrich did say some players were a little overzealous in their hitting, and took a few reps off accordingly. Helfrich was clear it wasn't a "live day".
"It's a good thing, they weren't cheap, it was just guys trying to be a little over-aggressive," he said.
While Lokombo transitions into a leadership position, Helfrich broke down who he's seen leadership from defensively thus far:
"Avery has done a great job as a leader. Ifo is probably our best leader back there. Erick Dargan's done a nice job of communicating and bring those guys along," he said. "Tony Washington has stepped up."
"That's the neat thing about this time of year. You kind of find out where you are. Fix it here, fix it there, patch it."