Dion Jordan came to Oregon as a 6′-6″ freshman, standing like a small forward on the hardwood at a lanky 210 or so pounds. Receiving reps at receiver for a short time before moving to tight end, no one could foresee the defensive monster that would be released a few years later.
The Ducks are known for recruiting athletes with speed, size and – maybe the most underrated trait – personality then finding the right fit for that player once on campus.
Koa Ka’ai spent time on the defensive line before switching to tight end prior to last season. And no one can forget Kenjon Barner who was recruited as a DB before becoming one of Oregon’s greatest running backs.
Looking at the current roster, there are several players that stand out as physical freaks that could play several positions.
Terrance “T.J.” Daniel, a 6′-6″ 230 pound monster with limited football experience, is listed as a tight end but has all the makings of the next great edge rusher for the Ducks.
De’Anthony Thomas would be an obvious game changer in the secondary. 4.3 speed and a very smart football mind would make the Mamba lethal for opposing quarterbacks. But there aren’t many Duck fans that would give up DeAnthony’s two Rose Bowl runs and opening kickoff return of the Fiesta Bowl.
Here are two intriguing players on the Oregon squad that would undoubtedly make an impact on the other side of the snap:
Colt Lyerla – LB
Even with the impact he has had on offense, Duck fans will always wonder what could have been had he played on the defensive side of the ball.
Standing 6′-5″ 250 pounds as a freshman, Lyerla would be a mismatch from day one. The tenacity he shows in blocking opposing linebackers and defensive ends is only a glimpse of the kind of physicality you would see from him on defense.
Much like Kiko Alonso, Colt has the ability to bowl over an opposing lineman en route to the ball carrier. The athleticism he displays when eluding tackles and dragging defenders (plural) to the ground mirrors the ability he would have to shed a blocker and take on double teams.
Coming out of high school he was compared to Brian Urlacher in stature and potential on the defensive side of the ball.
While Colt has done quite well as a tight end, with a good year he could be a first round pick, there is no doubt in evaluators minds he had as much potential as a linebacker. And Duck fans will ALWAYS wonder what Lyerla would have become had he gone that route.
Arik Armstead – Tackle
An obvious pick here as well, but taking a simple gander at his high school highlights makes it hard to debate his potential as a tackle.
There is no doubt that Armstead came to the Ducks, in part, because of his desire to play on the defensive line. But being ranked the number one player in the country before a position switch will give the head-scratchers a field day.
Setting up at left tackle, he could do the same thing to opposing ends that he does to centers, guards and tackles for the Ducks. Armstead’s bull rush is his go-to move, most likely because he played offensive line for so long. As a tackle that kind of drive can get a lot of push to open up the running game for a Ducks squad the loves to run the ball.
At 6′-8″ and nearly 300 pounds, Arik would be a force at tackle in college just as he was in high school. A mountain of flesh, he is lean, mean and could be a 3-4 year starter on most college offensive lines.
The jury is still out on Armstead. As a freshman last year he manned the second defensive line unit, improving each game and showing doubters why he has the makings of an all-conference lineman.
There are far too many players to count that could make a switch for the Ducks. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu could be a beast as a running back or slot receiver. Pharaoh Brown was a defensive end commit to the Michigan Wolverines. And Lyerla and Armstead are two athletes with obvious potential at other positions.
Who would you choose to switch and where would they go?