Is Oregon Becoming Linebacker U?

Haywarduck Editorials

My FishDuck Friends, this is a contributed article from Haywarduck, who is a regular in the comments and a big part of our community. Thank you!  Charles Fischer
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Are the Ducks becoming an NFL factory at linebacker? It’s a fair question when considering recent rosters in the NFL and Oregon’s recruiting, as it certainly has come a long way. The NFL currently has over 250 linebackers active on rosters with three from Oregon. Alabama, of course, leads with 10 active NFL linebackers. Utah, Washington and Stanford have five, while UCLA leads the Pac-12 with six.

Now, sometimes a linebacker is just a great college linebacker, similar to how the Ducks have had great positional talent in other spots that didn’t measure up in the NFL. The best example is probably LaMichael James at running back. He was arguably the greatest college RB of all time, but he didn’t make it in the bigs.

At linebacker we have also had some very good college players, the problem is they just weren’t elite. Take, for example, Casey Matthews, at 6′ 1″ 240 lbs., one of my favorites at Oregon. He played with as much heart as anyone to wear the green and yellow. The problem is he wasn’t his brother Clay Matthews‘s size at 6’ 3″ and 255 lbs.

In the 80’s, Oregon put one linebacker in the NFL, Brian Hinkle, not a bad player, but little else. During the 90’s, the Ducks had just a little success with sending linebackers to the NFL. More recently, Oregon has produced Kiko Alonzo, the lone starting talent, in addition to Dion Jordan, Justin Hollins and Joe Walker making rosters. But, with Oregon’s current talent, more linebackers are surely going to make some noise in the NFL.

Tom Corno

Mase Funa closing in on one of his sacks.

Right now we have elite talent on our roster with measurables that will translate to the NFL. So, who will be the most talented linebacker on our roster?

First we have Mase Funa, a guy who proved himself last year. Funa is 6′ 1″ and 260 lbs. and has a motor to make tough plays. As a freshman, he was second on the team with four sacks and had a knack for making tackles for loss… as once he gets a hold of a guy–he goes down.

If it weren’t for injuries his senior year, he likely would have been a five-star talent out of high school. He has a huge upside and has already taken a major role at the stud position.

Kevin Cline

Troy Dye is another great Oregon linebacker, earning himself a roster spot with the Minnesota Vikings following last season.

Most Ducks fans are aware of the talent Noah Sewell brings to the team, as his brother Penei Sewell was a high four-star prospect and is now the top offensive lineman in all of college football. Noah is a five-star prospect and is expected to rise above his ranking, and at 6′ 3″ and 260 lbs., he breaks the mold for linebackers with size seldom seen. The problem for other teams is he can move at his size like a linebacker.

A case can be made for a few others, but Justin Flowe seems to have what it takes. First off, he is a five-star talent who has the size, speed and passion to make it to the next level. Flowe is a product of the Snoop Dog League, much like De’Anthony Thomas, who earned the nickname “Black Mamba.” Like Thomas, Flowe earned the nickname “baby man” because he dominated older kids when he played as a 6 year old.

Let’s see if his nickname follows him to Eugene. Will Flowe be able to dominate older opponents as a freshman?

With a loaded depth chart moving forward, Is Oregon becoming the new Linebacker U?

Haywarduck
Bend, Oregon
Top Photo by Kevin Cline

 

Chris Brouilette, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a current student at the University of Oregon from Sterling, Illinois.

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