Rob Moseley knows a beast when he sees one. Moseley, the new editor-in-chief of GoDucks.com, has been covering Oregon football for more than a decade, so he’s personally seen some of the best players in Ducks history.
This month, Moseley has been writing daily (sometimes twice-daily) reports from each of Oregon’s closed fall practices. Anyone reading them will notice a trend.
Here’s an excerpt from his August 9 post: “The defense earlier built a lead thanks to some disruptive play by Boseko Lokombo, who stopped two run plays in the backfield, in one case forcing a fumble.”
From August 10: “Mana Greig won a rep with Buckner, and Andre Yruretagoyena held his own against Boseko Lokombo, who otherwise was all over the place this afternoon.”
From August 14: “Boseko Lokombo looks like a man among boys out there sometimes.”
From August 15: “Boseko Lokombo was absolutely unblockable, no matter who he went against.”
Moseley rarely (if ever) overreacts, so if he’s gushing about Lokombo you know the linebacker is doing something special. And by the way, Lokombo has been wreaking all of this havoc against the Ducks’ offense, which isn’t exactly a weak link.
Other than Ifo-Ekpre Olomu, there might not be a more promising Oregon defensive player than Lokombo. The fifth-year senior potentially could be one of the top Pac-12 linebackers, and if Moseley’s reports are any indication, Lokombo might even contend for the Dick Butkus Award.
As hyperbolic as that may sound, it’s incredibly hard to not get excited about this player. He’s 6-foot-3, about 230 pounds, and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5-4.7 seconds – phenomenal for a man his size. Safe to say, Lokombo has an absurd amount of physical ability. Quit hogging all of the athleticism, Boseko!
Some of his teammates sound even more impressed by Lokombo than Mosely does.
“With his athletic ability sometimes some of us have to step back and be like, ‘All right, maybe I’ve got to use more technique than he does,’ just because he’s such a superior athlete to a lot of people,” said Tyson Coleman, who likely will be one of the other starting linebackers this season.
Michael Clay, who started at middle linebacker last season and is now trenching in the NFL, played alongside Lokombo the past three seasons. While Clay is certainly aware of Lokombo’s athleticism, he said Lokombo is more than just a freak of nature.
“I think it’s a mixture of both [athleticism and preparation],” Clay said. “Bo knows what he’s doing, so he’s gonna be in the right position.”
That quote was from two years ago when Lokombo was a redshirt sophomore. Imagine how much better his preparation and technique are now.
When watching Lokombo’s highlights, the biggest thing that stands out is his speed, but you also catch glimpses of the preparation Clay was talking about:
Check out his sack at 0:18 of the video. Just a devastating spin move against David Yankey of Stanford. Yankey has been named a preseason All-America lineman by several top websites. If only Lokombo didn’t play against so many scrubs . . .
That clip was a great example of both Lokombo’s skill and athleticism, but he isn’t just a dynamic pass rusher.
At 1:39 and 1:51 in that video, you can see just how good he is in pass coverage, especially in the clip at 1:39. When the ball is snapped, Lokombo immediately bumps the receiver he’s lined up against. Actually “bump” isn’t quite the right term — “shove” or “manhandle” are more accurate descriptions. Immediately after Lokombo assaults that receiver, he falls back into his zone, which just so happens to be right in between the ball and its intended receiver. He makes a difficult jumping interception and turns on the afterburners, charging into the end zone like a racehorse.
Everything he does in that play is incredible. Many defenders actually just bump, rather than more disruptively shove, receivers in that scenario because shoving takes more time and effort. Lokombo is so fast he can demolish the receiver and still recover in plenty of time to make a play.
Watch the play again, except this time watch the quarterback. He takes a super quick drop and fires the ball immediately, yet still it’s a pick-six. That’s partially his fault, but he wasn’t expecting a linebacker to do all of the things Boseko does in such a small window of time. Without Lokombo on the field, the quarterback might complete that pass.
Of course, three plays aren’t fully representative of a player’s ability. If Lokombo had been that ridiculously good, consistently for the past three seasons, he’d be starting for an NFL team right now. He’s obviously a freakish athlete and he knows it, but he’s also aware that he hasn’t steadily performed at an elite level:
“Maybe my production isn’t as high as a lot of people would want, but I’m a first-round type guy,” Lokombo told The Vancouver Sun. “I could be top five, even number one. The sky’s the limit.”
The sky certainly is the limit for Bo, but he needs to produce more if he wants to be regarded as a top linebacker and get selected early in the NFL draft. And yet, while Lokombo’s lack of production might sound concerning, there are a couple reasons why his stats from the past three years shouldn’t cause worry: 1) defensive performance is much harder to quantify through statistics than offense, and 2) the 2013-14 season is not the past three years. Barring anything unforeseen, Lokombo will play the majority of defensive snaps this season. He didn’t have that type of consistent playing time his first three years. So, we might see a vastly improved Lokombo compared to 2010-12.
We won’t know how good he’ll be until the season starts (two weeks away!), but it sure feels like Lokombo will go from simply being an athletic freak who’s a solid player, to an athletic freak who’s one of the best linebackers in the conference – maybe even the entire country.
Feature image at top of article: Kevin Cline
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