In 2011 Oregon's linebacking corps went from the biggest question mark to perhaps its biggest strength on defense. Casey Matthews and Spencer Paysinger left big shoes to fill after graduation, but behind the leadership of Michael Clay, Oregon assembled an impressive group of linebackers to fill the void. Alongside Clay, Dewitt Stuckey and Josh Kaddu served as the starters for most of the year, with Bo Lokombo serving as the primary backup, and Kiko Alonso, Anthony Wallace, and Rodney Hardrick all playing meaningful minutes.
Heading into 2012, the Oregon linebacking corps looks to be the strength of the defense again. While Stuckey and Kaddu will be missed, Bo Lokombo and Kiko Alonso have the talent and experience to fill in without the defense missing a beat. Alonso in particular -- if he can build on his Rose Bowl game and stay out of trouble -- has the talent to be an all Pac-12 type player in his senior season.
The bigger question in 2012 is how the depth chart will shake out. The Ducks have a bevy of talent waiting in the wings. Rodney Hardrick, Derrick Malone, Rahim Cassell, Carlyle Garrick, and Tyson Coleman are all young and very talented, though limited on experience. Keloni Kamalani, Isaac Ava, and Grant Thompson should also compete for playing time, while Terrance Daniel and in-state standout Brett Bafaro will likely redshirt as freshmen.
Oregon's 2012 recruiting class was very thin at the linebacker position, due in part to the strong classes in previous years. Heading into 2013, linebacker is one of the biggest priorities for the Ducks. After the jump, take a look at an early list of players that Oregon is targeting.
Chans Cox MLB - Cox is a stud middle linebacker prospect from Arizona. He has offers from most Pac-12 schools as well as a host of midwest schools. Cox is 6-3 and 230 lbs and a 4* rated prospect according to Scout.
Michael Hutchings LB - Hutchings is one of the most sought after recruits in the nation. With offers from most of the top programs in the country, he'll have his pick of schools. He has expressed interest in Oregon already, as well as Washington and USC.
Miles Jack LB - Jack hails from Bellevue, Washington and is a 4* rated outside linebacker. He has already made an unofficial visit to Oregon, and reportedly attended the Utah/Oregon basketball game in Eugene with linebackers coach Don Pellum.
Peter Kalambayi OLB - Peter Kalambayi is a big time recruit from a state that Oregon doesn't normally get prospects from: North Carolina. Kalambayi holds offers from top programs all over the country, including Alabama, Florida, Michigan, and Ohio State, among many others.
Victor Egu OLB - Egu is one of three De La Salle linebackers who Oregon is pursuing. At 6-3 and 215 lbs he also holds offers from Arizona State and Colorado.
David Price LB - Price is from Long Beach, California. At 6-1, 200 lbs, he could play safety or linebacker in college. He doesn't yet have an offer from Oregon but has expressed a lot of interest in the program.
Cameron Judge OLB - Cameron Judge comes from the same high school as former Ducks Casey Matthews and Anthony Gildon. He's a 3* rated prospect according to Scout and also reportedly has familial ties to Oregon.
Luke Maclean OLB - Maclean is 6-3 and 235 and could play DE or linebacker for the Ducks. He doesn't have an offer but reportedly has high interest.
DJ Moffitt OLB - Moffitt is another prospect from prep powerhouse De La Salle in California. He could play safety or linebacker at the next level.