Recruiting: A look at linebacker

A little over halfway through the recruiting cycle for the class of 2014, Oregon has found itself garnering verbal commitments from players at a number of key positions including running back (Royce Freeman), quarterback (Morgan Mahalak) and most notably, defensive back (Dominique Harrison, Arrion Springs).

However, a problem the Ducks face is filling holes at the linebacker position. Already, the linebacker core contains plenty of inexperience after the departures of Kiko Alonso and Michael Clay, leaving the door open for players like Tyson Coleman, Derrick Malone and even JUCO transfer Joe Walker to make an impact.

The Ducks snagged four linebackers during last year's recruiting cycle in Walker, Tyrell Robinson, Danny Mattingly and Torrodney Prevot, who moved to linebacker despite being labeled a defensive end coming out of high school. This provides the Ducks with some depth going forward, but there is still more work to be done, starting with this years' class.

Linebacker Jordan Hoiem, a Hawaiian prospect, was the Ducks first verbal commit for this recruiting cycle, but he quit football last month and informed Oregon he will not be joining them in 2014. After losing out on top Oregon prospect Joey Alfieri and California prospect Bobby Okereke to Stanford, Oregon has seen many of its targets chose to go elsewhere.

Of the 13 linebackers that Scout.com lists with Oregon offers, only five remain uncommitted.

At outside linebacker, Auburn (Ala.) prospect Rashaan Evans, Indianapolis (Ind.) prospect Brandon Lee and Tampa (Fla.) prospect Vincent Jackson all claim offers.

At inside linebacker, Crete, (Ill.) prospect Nyles Morgan and Memphis (Tenn.) prospect Petera Wilson claim offers as well. Oregon has also reportedly extended an offer to junior college athlete Edward Muldrow, giving them six current prospects with offers.

Of the six prospects, Evans seems the least likely to be headed towards Eugene. He announced a final four at the end of July to national recruiting analyst Chad Simmons that included Georgia, Tennessee, Florida State and UCLA. During an interview on Monday, Morgan's father listed a number of schools that indicated Oregon could be out of the picture for him at this point.

Wilson put Oregon in his Top 12 earlier in the spring, but has yet to trim that list since then. Oregon remains a school in contention for the No. 9 ranked middle linebacker in the country, but they will have to contend with a number of SEC schools, including hometown Tennessee, which is no easy task.

That leaves the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Muldrow, who has Oregon in his final four along with Tennessee, Arizona State and West Virginia according to a recent blog by SunHerald.com, along with Jackson and Lee.

Muldrow, a former South Carolina commit, has made an impact at Contra Costa College in California and gained experience at a higher level. That should benefit him when he commits this winter, and Oregon would no doubt benefit from having a more seasoned player.

Lee said in a recent report by Scout.com's Anna Hickey that he plans on visiting Oregon, but he also is unfamiliar with the program. Oregon fans will have to hope that their lengthy recruitment of Lee, who stands 6-foot-3, 210-pounds, will play in their favor, especially if a successful visit occurs. Right now, it's likely they will face stiff competition from Cal and Louisville for Lee.

Finally, that leaves the 6-foot-3.5, 240-pound Jackson. Among the 30-plus offers Jackson has, he put Oregon in his top five via Twitter at the beginning of the month. Oregon is the only west coast school still in contention for Jackson, and they'll have to battle Alabama, Arkansas, Miami (Fl) and South Florida for him. Jackson is an aggressive pass rusher and hard hitter and has shown flexibility in being able to move from linebacker to defensive end in high school, something Oregon covets.


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