LBs and DBs are UOs Best

For the last few days eDuck has looked at Oregon's official roster. On Tuesday we thought we had the final roster going into fall camp that starts on Aug. 9th, but now we've learned that the current roster listed on goducks.com will be trimmed to 105 names. Today, let's look at the scholarship linebackers and defensive backs, a group many feel is the best ever in Eugene.

It seems like yesterday that Casey Matthews, 6-2, 235 showed up from Oaks Christian HS, but now he's a senior and along with fellow senior Spencer Paysinger, 6-3, 231 are the focal point and leaders of the Duck defense. Good reason too. Last year the pair of linebackers were second (Paysinger) and third (Matthews) on the Duck tackling chart. In fact the pair did just about everything. Both had 81 tackles (Paysinger, 45 solos, Matthews, 40 solos) and between them had 12.5 tackles for loss including four sacks and 12 pass break ups. To go along with that they had combined 13 pass deflections, one quarterback hurry, two fumble recoveries and an interception. The other starting linebacker from last year, junior Eddie Pleasant, 5-11, 213 will start at strong safety this year. Pleasant was the sixth leading tackler last year with 54 tackles (37 solos) including 4.5 sacks to go along with one interception and three fumble recoveries. He hurried the quarterback twice, broke up pass plays four times and deflected five other passes. Now the Oregon coaches think he can cause more damage to opponents from the safety position!

One reason why Pleasant could be moved to safety is because the Ducks have depth in numbers. Take your pick -- senior Bryson Littlejohn, 6-1, 225 (9/5, one QBH), juniors Josh Kaddu, 6-3, 235 (21/13, four TFL, one sack), Dewitt Stuckey, 5-11, 221 (6/3), sophomore Michael Clay, 5-11, 225 (32/17, one sack, two BU, two PDs) or red shirt freshman Boseko Lokombo, 6-3, 223.

What is the common denominator among this group? Speed, baby, speed!

Oregon only signed one linebacker last spring -- Isaac Dixon and he won't be arriving to school until winter term. That shows the confidence the Oregon coaching staff has in the depth of the linebacker corps.

One additional player, Kiko Alonso will serve a season-long suspension, which was handed down on Feb. 22.

The defensive backfield like the linebacker corps is full of speed and hard-nosed football players. Senior cornerback Talmadge Jackson III, 5-10, 188, started all 13 games last season and recorded 50 tackles (40 solos) and had four interceptions including one for a touchdown against UCLA. Juniors Anthony Gildon, 6-1, 185 (7/5), Will Wallace, 5-10, 189, sophomore Cliff Harris, 5-11, 180 (19/12, one interception) and red shirt freshman Avery Patterson, 5-10, 180 will all vie for the spot opposite Jackson. Freshman Dior Mathis, 5-9, 180 is listed as a corner.

Sophomore John Boyett, 5-10, 198 returns as the starting free safety. Boyett was the team's leading tackler last year with 90 tackles (62 solos) and three interceptions. As mentioned Eddie Pleasant is now a strong safety and likely will be on the field the same time as Boyett.

The rover position is showing seniors Marvin Johnson, 5-11, 210 (29/19) and Chad Peppars, 5-10, 189 (3/1).

The Ducks have several players listed simply defensive backs. Junior Javes Lewis, (79/54, two sacks, and one interception) played in 13 games as a free safety. Sophomores Scott Grady, 5-11, 180, played in eight games on special teams but Texas transfer Marcus Davis, 6-1, 185 will sit out this year.

Red shirt Brian Jackson, 5-10, 192 will also contend for playing time.

The Ducks brought in a slew of talent for the defensive backfield who presumably can play either CB or safety including Erick Dargan, 6-1, 197, Derrick Malone, 6-2, 186, Terrance Mitchell, 6-0, 183 and James Scales, 5-10,190.


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