The Oregon Ducks linebacking corps was arguably the most consistent position throughout the Chip Kelly era, and will likely take a hit with the loss of Michael Clay, Kiko Alonso and hybrid Dion Jordan. Here’s the good news: the reserves last season weren’t slouches. Redshirt freshmen Tyson Coleman and Rahim Cassell took significant snaps last season, providing relief for the starters in Oregon’s heavily rotating defense. Sophomore Rodney Hardrick was once again limited in action due to nagging injuries, garnering tackles in only five of the Ducks’ 13 games. His size, though, at 6’1″ 240 pounds, is an ideal fit for the mike linebacker spot previously controlled by Alonso.
So what will the starting four look like for the green, yellow, black, silver and white next season?
Senior-to-be Boseko Lokombo has locked down his starting spot. He has a knack for finding the ball, whether in the air or on the ground, and has proven his game-breaking ability for three years.
My money (if I had money of my own) would be on Rodney Hardrick and Tyson Coleman to govern the other true linebacker spots. Coleman is a local product from Lake Oswego. His tenacity - which has been unpredictable at times, occasionally resulting in a personal foul - is that of a thick, mean and speedy linebacker who has all the signs of all-conference player at OLB. In the middle of the field, look for a healthy Hardrick to demolish running backs, forcing them to scream “Uncle!” as they approach the line of scrimmage.
Tony Washington is by no means penciled in to start in place of Jordan, but with his size (6’3″ 265 pounds) and experience he will likely be the best option.
Expect incoming junior college transfer Joe Walker and freshman linebacker Tyrell Robinson to lay the lumber on me for not expecting starting time out of the two savages.