Last year Oregon’s defense was characterized by a bend not break mentality, allowing a ton of yards but keeping their opponent out of the end zone. It worked, evident by their 13-2 record, but it wasn’t perfect. After the departure of six starters on defense, Oregon is now in a peculiar position.
To some, 2015 might seem like a scary year as the Ducks look to fill major holes on defense and at QB, but to those close to the team, 2015 is shaping up to be quite the year already. This freshmen class is one of the best in recent memory, and for once the buzz is on defense. For years Oregon has been known for its explosive offense, but considering this year’s class that might have to change.
The class is led by 5-star prospect and absolute man-child of a player, Canton Kaumatule. The defensive end is 6’7″ of pure muscle, and he’s already drawn the attention of defensive coordinator Don Pellum. According to an article by Andrew Greif of Oregon Live, Pellum said Kaumatule, “has the potential to be really, really good.”
Along with Kaumatule is Ugo Amadi, a 4-star CB from Nashville, Tenn. Amadi and newly repositioned Charles Nelson have been creating quite the buzz thus far, drawing huge praise from defensive backs coach John Neal.
In an article by Tyson Alger of Oregon Live, Neal was quoted saying, “I’ve got some youth going. They got me excited. They’re fun to watch … I probably had more fun at today’s practice than I have had in years.”
Those two, Kaumatule and Amadi, make up just a portion of young Ducks looking to make a splash in 2015. Sophomores Jimmie Swain and Arrion Springs were both top recruits in 2014 and now look poised to take on larger roles, and redshirt freshman Mattrell McGraw is just one more weapon to consider in the secondary. The Ducks might be young on defense in 2015, but they’re as deep as they’ve ever been.
One thing to particularly watch out for will be a grittiness not normally observed by Ducks defenses in the past. Kaumatule is as hard hitting as they come, but he’s joined by Fotu Leiato, a freshman linebacker who might be a dark horse candidate to start come fall. Leiato is undersized for the position, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in brutality. Just do yourself a favor and watch the video below.
Top photo by Kevin Cline