Yesterday, our beloved Oregon Ducks began spring practice. For many of us, our first glimpse of the latest edition of Lightning Yellow and Thunder Green won’t come until the close of April; but not to worry, there’s the age old tradition of…speculation. For we the Duck faithful, speculation for the foreseeable future will mean drawing conclusions on how players carry themselves walking between locker rooms and The Mo.
An intriguing spring storyline surrounds a newcomer who will have to wait until fall to don an Oregon “O.”
Despite his absence from Eugene, incoming offensive lineman recruit Kyle Long (3-Star/Mission Viejo, CA) is making the most of his training during the off-season.
Long spent the last two seasons at Saddleback Junior College after a series of personal mistakes derailed a collegiate baseball career. At the JC echelon, Long took after his Hall of Fame father, Howie, and initially lined up as a defensive lineman. However, when his athletic blocking ability became undeniable, Long made the switch to offense. Over the last recruiting cycle, Long cultivated a rapport with Oregon O-Line Coach Steve Greatwood that resulted in a scholarship offer to open running lanes for the Ducks. Despite his rocky past, Long appears to be headed for greatness with a strict and grueling training regimen.
“I’ve really just tried to eliminate as many outside distractions (as) possible. I deleted my Twitter account and my Facebook page just to minimize the distractions. I’m trying to get into busy mode and keep working hard. I’ve gained weight and I’ve gotten faster and stronger. I’m just real excited about where I’m at and to get up to Eugene and keep working.”– Kyle Long (Justin Hopkins/DUCKTERRITORY)
While working hand in hand with trainers from Athlete’s Performance, the same firm that prepped former Oregon running back LaMichael James for the NFL Draft, Long met current Duck’s tailback Kenjon Barner and exchanged pleasantries with his new teammate.
“He had a mohawk and some Oregon gear on. So I went over and started talking to him and asked if he played for the team. It was Kenjon Barner working out and getting ready for his big season. He was a really nice guy and we talked for a bit.” – Kyle Long (Via Justin Hopkins/DUCKTERRITORY)
While the fruits of Long’s labor won’t be fully realized until fall camp, his experience and blocking prowess could pay huge dividends for Barner and the rest of Oregon’s running corps. A seemingly potential starter due to his dominating physical presence (6’7, 290 lbs.), Long has the capacity to make his short time (one, potentially two year eligibility) at Oregon very meaningful. For a more in-depth background story on Long, please click here.
Hard-hitting defensive back Cole Luke (4-Star/Chandler, AZ/Rivals250) is holding out for an Oregon offer before he makes his college-program choice. “I’m hoping Oregon…offer(s),” said Luke. “They have been showing interest for quite some time now.” The 6’0, 170 lb. prep star has the potential to be a shut-down defender and indicated that “Oregon said they will be by to watch me in person” in the near future.
Heading into the 2012 prep campaign, a pair of west coast-based defenders have Oregon positioned at the top of their respective college-choice lists.
Holding down the safety position, dual-sport athlete Terry Johnson (NR/Thousand Oaks, CA) utilizes track speed to counter opposing wide receivers. At 6’1, 180 lbs., Johnson blends bruising tackling with a level of speed usually seen at corner. “Oregon’s my #1 choice,” said Johnson. “It’s a great track school and the football team is top caliber as well.” If indeed Johnson comes to Eugene, he would follow in the footsteps of fellow hybrid football/track athletes the likes of Jordan Kent, LaMichael James, and B.J. Kelly.
(Terry Johnson Highlights Unavailable)
Lanky defensive end Vita Vea (4-Star/Milpitas, CA/Rivals250) fits the Oregon mold as a mobile end. Standing at 6’4 and weighing in at 260 lbs., Vea’s athleticism may land him a Duck uniform. “Oregon is the one school I want an offer from,” said Vea. “They seem like they are very close to offering. I just always grew up a fan of them… (They’re) my favorite school right now.” If Vea continues to build a solid foundation with the Oregon coaching staff, he can expect an offer in the very near future.
A converted defensive lineman, Jaylen Ruiz (3-Star/Fresno,CA) may be undersized (6’3, 260 lbs.), but can play up to larger opposing lineman. Currently a force in the trenches, Ruiz played linebacker during his early prep days and may trade the three-point stance for his original position once he makes the transition to college ball. “Oregon has been showing pretty good interest,” indicated Ruiz. While not currently holding a Ducks offer, look for Ruiz to become an Oregon target if he excels during his senior season.
For up to the minute recruiting news, please visit our friends at DUCK TERRITORY who graciously provide FISHDUCK with in-depth analysis and player-generated material. Look for my latest recruiting update next Wednesday, WTD!!!