It’s summertime here in Eugene, Oregon, and that only means one thing to the Duck faithful; football season is looming right around the corner. Summer workouts have officially begun as the new highly touted freshman class flocks in from all over the nation to join one of the most dynamic and explosive teams in college football. Having lost key pieces on both sides of the ball from last year’s Fiesta Bowl championship team, the Ducks are eager to reload with promising talent. That said, new head coach Mark Helfrich will have a chance to assess the new class over summer workouts and even throw some into the fire at starting roles in the fall.
Oregon signed a total of 19 new recruits, some with potential to make immediate impact. Three stand out as possible four year contributors.
Torrodney Prevot (Defensive End): Out of Houston, Texas, Prevot de-committed from USC hours before signing day. Prevot had committed to USC over this past summer, but apparently had a last minute change of heart as he ultimately chose to bring to talents to Eugene.
Prevot is a multi-faceted pass rushing specimen; he has extreme quickness off the ball while he using his long arms to create space from blockers and bat down balls. Rob Moseley recently quoted Mark Helfrich stating: “Coaches see Torrodney Prevot playing a similar role to that of Dion Jordan.” Like Jordan did last season, he is projected to play a hybrid DE/OLB position. Jordan’s exodus to the NFL was a huge loss for the Ducks, but Prevot has the potential to re-create the havoc which Jordan caused opposing offenses last season.
It has been repeatedly said that Prevot still needs to fill out in his 6-foot-3 frame. This summer, under strength and conditioning guru Jim Radcliffe, the young defensive end will have a chance to add muscle and learn the subtleties of playing a hybrid type position.
Do not expect Prevot to start right away, but Helfrich will have a hard time holding back such a defensive monster on the sidelines. He will find a way to get him in some way or another. If he excels on the field, which I believe he will, look for him to start later in the season.
Thomas Tyner (Running Back): Thomas Tyner is in a league of his own. In high school, every touch had the potential to be six points. Tyner is known for having electric speed and the ability to change direction with ease. To complement his game-changing speed, Thomas has a 206 pound frame (weighing more than Prevot) making him tough to bring down. This combination of speed and size is what separates Thomas from other backs. With De’Anthony Thomas as a primary speed back and Byron Marshall as a power back, Tyner will be a good change of pace guy who can utilize both weapons (speed and size) in his running game.
In high school, Tyner had problems staying healthy due to the fact he was a multi-sport athlete playing football and running track. He had problems with his hamstring and was forced to quit track his senior season, even after setting state records his sophomore and junior year. This brings into account his durability, can he stay healthy taking hits at the next level? Tyner has been working with a trainer and will surely strengthen his legs during summer workouts. It has also been noted that Tyner has a weak pass blocking game; this is something Helfrich will make sure he improves, as he does not want to see his preseason Heisman hopeful quarterback get blind sided by an opposing defensive linemen.
Unfortunately for Tyner, the Ducks have depth at running back, but look for him to get an increasing amount of touches as the season progresses.
Matt Wogan (Kicker): This North Carolina product is my sleeper pick; he made a 65-yard field goal off the ground and hit multiple 4.3 hang-times on kickoffs at a showcase camp. On kickoffs he is known for being a touchback machine, alleviating the stress of any big returns.
The kick that Alejandro Maldonado missed against the Stanford Cardinals will forever haunt fans as the Ducks’ BCS Championship aspirations painfully slipped away in front of the Oregon faithful. Special teams is the last missing piece for an already loaded team. Wogan has the chance to be that final missing piece to the puzzle, effectively pushing the Ducks to the top and hopefully to a BCS Championship.
Wogan is known as one of the most powerful kickers in the country with the ball blasting off his foot. He still needs to work out some kinks in his kicking game to be a starting college kicker, but he should be ready sooner rather then later. This dynamic kicker also has college level ability in punting. After losing Jackson Rice to graduation, Wogan has the chance to punt as well. With so many skills, Wogan has the chance to be involved in all three facets of the kicking game (Kick offs, Field Goals and punts). As of now, Maldonado should be the starting kicker, but if there is inconsistency, Wogan could see opportunities.
These three freshmen have the chance to be the face of Ducks football. They have a chance to excel at their respective positions, possibly even bringing more skill than the previous player at their position. With that being a possibility, the Ducks have a bright future ahead of them.
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