Meet Your New Ducks: Have No Fear, Your Backup Cornerback is Here

Stephen Amoako reps #29 (Kevin Cline Photography)

After introducing Eric Amoako, it is now time to profile his oh-so-talented twin brother Stephen Amoako.  You may not have heard of either of these guys; however, being that they were offered scholarships by Chip Kelly and spent a year under his watch warrants them some credibility right off the bat. Stephen specifically was one of the first commits of the 2012 recruiting class and hasn’t turned back since.

He previously played football in the great city of Arlington, Texas for the prestigious Martin High School Warriors.  Having a leadership role on a successful team did wonders for his character and football IQ.  This is perhaps what helped him win the Interscholastic student athlete award following his senior season.  Needless to say, Stephen gets the job done both on and off the field.

After a rather average junior season in terms of statistics and production, it was time for Stephen to start wowing college recruiters through workouts and camps.  He, along with his brother, did just that and caught serious attention from various Division I schools across the country. Recruiting services listed him as a three-star prospect and, as you may know, being from Texas always adds a little hype to his name.

Both the Amoako brothers aimed to have their college destinations set prior to beginning their senior season and really jumped at the Oregon offer.  Playing alongside his brother at cornerback, Stephen went on to total twenty tackles, five pass deflections, and three interceptions his senior year.  Amidst this season, he also earned the honors of Gatorade National Performer of the Week.

Here’s a quick link to some of his high school highlights…

So what kind of player is he, and what exactly can he do for Oregon?

Just like his brother, Stephen can fit in at either cornerback or safety. A 5’11, 195 lb. frame backed by blistering speed and footwork makes him an ideal sized player for the Oregon secondary.  He wasn’t as big of a playmaker as his brother in high school, and was instead credited for his consistent and disciplined play.  On the field, this translates to not getting beat deep, stepping up to bring down sweeping ball carriers, and always being in the right position.

Along with solid speed and footwork comes his tackling ability and impressive strength.  He has that annoying ability (from a receiver’s perspective) to jam wideouts on the line and hang with them despite all of their quick cuts and jukes.  He may not be Aliotti’s first choice to send in on a blitz to crush ball carriers in the backfield; however, he has great awareness combined with play recognition tendencies to stop running backs and quarterbacks who break past the front seven.

As a former Duck comparison, he seems to have Jairus Byrd potential.  One reason is that they share extremely similar height, weight, and measurements.  Another reason is that he was an extremely versatile and well-balanced defensive player who fit in at either the corner or safety position. And, if you can recall, he will see similar minutes just as former Duck Willie Glasper did in his career. He was consistently the fifth or sixth corner on the depth chart (remember, there can sometimes be three or four corners on the field at once), became a special teams leader, filled in nicely when called upon due to injury, and was one of the key players in the secondary his senior year before his injury.

Amoako makes an impressive hit on a ball carrier escaping downfield (Danneberg Photography)

Amoako makes an impressive hit on a ball carrier escaping downfield (Danneberg Photography)

Judging from the spring game, it looks as if the Ducks are going to mostly utilize him at cornerback in the future. There is a ton of experience and talent ahead of him, so it will be up to his offseason and fall camp performance prior to next season to determine if he will see ample playing time in the 2014 season. This notion does not necessarily take away from his noticeable minutes and plays he made in the spring game, but it simply means the kid is still developing and looking to get better. So right now, it seems that Stephen is destined for multiple roles with the special teams unit (likely a gunner on punts and kickoffs) and, hopefully, some valuable minutes in the fourth quarter when our Ducks are up 20+.

Having a deep secondary is quite a luxury.  The Duck defense had a bit of a scare last year as guys like Boyett and Patterson went down with serious injury.  Stephen Amoako should take a bit of a backseat this year to our proven veterans, but should they go down, don’t be surprised when this extremely versatile athlete starts turning some heads with a big hit on an OSU receiver coming across the middle on a slant route.

86 days. Go Ducks!

 

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Joe Packer

Joe Packer

Joe Packer is a sophomore at the University of Oregon, majoring in Journalism. A Portland, Oregon native, he has been an avid Duck fan his whole life, attending his first of countless Duck football games at the age of 2. He played Lacrosse in high school, and today enjoys shooting hoops and a round of golf just about every day. As a player, referee, and youth sports coach, Joe looks to share his diverse perspective on the world of sports. He welcomes your feedback. Follow him on twitter: @JoePa_