With the departure of linebacker Tony Washington, Oregon’s linebacking corps needs a new leader. Redshirt senior Rodney Hardrick has the ability to become that leader. I met up with Hardrick to discuss what the future of Oregon’s linebackers looks like.
Daniel: It is a very young linebacking crew with [Tony] Washington gone. What are the young guys doing in order to get ready?
Hardrick: Just basic stuff and fundamentals.
Daniel: How does it feel to not have him around anymore?
Hardrick: I miss him; I hang out with him a lot off the field, on the weekends, barbecuing and stuff. Christian French, Tyson Coleman, those guys have stepped up a lot. He (Washington) was one of our quiet leaders; he led in a different way. Now we have new guys taking up that role. I miss him as a person, but I hope the best for him.
Daniel: How is spring practice going?
Hardrick: It is going really well. I watched all the film, identified all the areas I need to improve in, and I made that a goal. I have made progress this spring, as well as the other linebackers. We have all gotten a better knowledge of how to control the defense.
Daniel: What have you been focusing on individually?
Hardrick: The areas I want to improve on from last season are my footwork, which will improve my missed tackling. I am starting to let my feet do all the work, and let the rest fall into place. I am working on pass rushing when I get the opportunity to blitz off the edge. I have all the tools in my book to succeed.
Daniel: Any young linebackers stepping it up?
Hardrick: Jimmie Swain has done really well this spring, so has Danny Mattingly. Our new walk-on, De’Quan McDowell has done well also. The group has gotten a lot better and has taken a new role, each person has improved in their own way.
Daniel: How about the other side of the ball? Have any offensive players stepped up in your eyes?
Hardrick: The first one that comes to mind is Royce Freeman. He reminds me of some guys we played last season, not going to name any names. He is such a great athlete; it is exciting to play against him every day.
Daniel: Have you been focusing on the opponents for next year?
Hardrick: Not at all. I feel like this time is for ourselves, and get better at what we need to do.
Daniel “Kantor” Kantor is a soon-to-be graduating 5th year senior at the University of Oregon majoring in advertising with a double minor in business and music. He hails from Southern California and grew up in a UCLA family, where he learned from a very young age to despise the USC Trojans. He switched to the green side when he committed to attend the U of O and witnessed his first ever Duck game: Oregon: 72, New Mexico: 0. That season turned into the magical roller coaster that was the year of the 2011 BCS National Championship against Auburn (I will argue to the death that he was down).
Aside from rooting for the Ducks, you can find Daniel rooting for the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Giants, Dodgers, and the 6th grade Eugene basketball tem he coaches. I also have a husky as a pet, but she’s definitely a husky fan. Daniel plans to move to Portland after graduation to pursue a job in media.
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