After the Ducks’ wide receiving corps, Oregon’s defensive front seven is arguably the deepest unit on the roster. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Jordon Scott and Austin Faoliu will most definitely be leading the defensive line into the season, but there are also plenty of players who will be knocking on the door looking for some action in the 2020 season.
One of those players will be redshirt freshman Keyon Ware-Hudson(not to be confused with Kyron Ware-Hudson, his brother). The 6’3″ 295-pound defensive tackle out of Duarte, California appeared in just three games last season, which allowed him to retain his redshirt eligibility. During these three appearances, Ware-Hudson made three tackles and recorded a sack, while only playing a handful of snaps.
Ware-Hudson showed that kind of talent in his high school days as well. He attended Mater Dei High School, where he was ranked the 11th-best defensive end in the country and the 22nd-best overall recruit in California. He was also given four stars by both Rivals and ESPN.
After an injury kept him out of action during his junior season, he came back looking better than ever for his senior season, when he recorded 46 total tackles, 14 TFLs and 6.5 sacks. These contributions propelled him to a first team all-county selection and second team all California.
During Ware-Hudson’s recruitment, Oregon had to contend with some big-time programs, including Michigan, Florida, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Pac-12 foes UCLA, Arizona and Washington. Ware-Hudson formally committed to Oregon in the spring of 2018. There was some worry among Ducks fans that he would flip when Willie Taggart’s Seminoles offered him the day after his commitment, but that never happened.
In Ware-Hudson, the Ducks have a defensive lineman waiting in the wings who could prove to be a big-time player when his number eventually gets called. Duck Territory writer Erik Skopil included Ware-Hudson in his article about five redshirts who can make a difference for the Ducks in this upcoming season. “There’s no reason that Ware-Hudson can’t be a capable rotation piece upfront for Joe Salave’a’s group. He’s got the size and strength to make a difference. Now it’s just a matter of going out and proving he can play at this level,” Skopil wrote of Ware-Hudson. He also mentioned, however, that it would be difficult to see him starting.
That’s not a slight to Ware-Hudson, but a compliment to how deep the Ducks are on the defensive line. He has the talent level to start for many top schools around the country, but Oregon just happens to have three or four NFL-ready players on the line. He will certainly be in the rotation, and this season he’ll get more than a handful of snaps. If one of the starters were to go down to injury, Ware-Hudson would definitely be near the top of a long list of players who could step in. With his combination of size and quickness, he’s a good asset to have on the interior and potentially edge.
Mario Cristobal hasn’t been shy about showing his philosophy of going with the hot hand. We saw it many times over the last two seasons at the running back position: if you’re playing well, he’s going to leave you in the game. Cristobal will give his players every chance to compete and every opportunity to play. This is all Ware-Hudson needs to be successful. Given the opportunity, he’ll flourish.
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Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester, Tennessee.
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