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Jim Leavitt’s Starting 11: Jimmie Swain, Linebacker

The senior defender has a big opportunity in 2017

Oregon v Oregon State Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Jimmie Swain will start at linebacker for Jim Leavitt’s Oregon defense this season. The senior from Kansas is looking to end his Duck career on a high note.

We are just 34 days away from Oregon’s first game against Southern Utah on Saturday, September 2 at Autzen Stadium.

Here are my projections for the defensive and offensive starters of Willie Taggart’s 2017-18 team. Let’s get caught up with what you missed:

JIM LEAVITT’S 11

SAFETY - Brenden Schooler (Monday)

CORNERBACK - Arrion Springs (Tuesday)

LINEBACKER - Troy Dye (Wednesday)

DEFENSIVE TACKLE - Scott Pagano (Thursday)

DEFENSIVE END - Henry Mondeaux (Friday)

DEFENSIVE END - Jalen Jelks (Saturday)

STARTING LINEBACKER, JIMMIE SWAIN

Swain appeared in 11 of 12 games last season and started six overall. He accumulated 77 total tackles, 29 of the solo variety and 2.0 for a loss of yards. Swain finished second on the team in tackles. He deflected two passes and forced a fumble.

Rose Bowl - Oregon v Florida State
Jimmie Swain celebrates Oregon’s historic 59-20 victory over Florida State in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2015 from Pasadena, Calif. The senior will not accept another campaign like 2016 for Oregon’s defense.
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The big-bodied 6-foot-2 linebacker amassed 26 total tackles over his first two seasons in Eugene (2014-15). A ferocious offseason work ethic, coupled with injuries to teammates enabled him an opportunity on the field. His versatility kept him out there.

Swain can play any linebacker position, including the outside. Not only is he versatile, but he is one of the physically strongest players on the team. The way he grinds in the weight room has garnered a great deal of respect from his teammates.

Leavitt's 3-4 defense works really well with versatile athletes. Swain can slide into the inside when needed to slow down the opposing run game. He can play the outside or cover the tight end, whatever Leavitt needs.

Swain is perfect for Leavitt’s personality. He’s big, fast, aggressive, versatile, strong and physical. Leavitt loves effort and Swain exhibits it routinely. Of the seven players previewed thus far, four are seniors.

THE FINAL VERDICT

With Troy Dye grabbing most of the attention, look for Swain to play a major role if the sophomore gets bottled up. The senior will finish second in tackles again with 88, while 44 will be unassisted and 5.5 for loss. Swain will swarm the quarterback with 10 pressures, three pass deflections, one sack and a fumble recovery. He will start every game and finish his college career with a bowl victory.

So much for a summer break. Three Ducks had media obligations at the Pac-12 Media Day in Hollywood on Wednesday-Thursday this week. Oregon then hosted “Saturday Night Live” before their media day on Sunday. Don’t forget fall camp (open to the public) begins on Monday morning. Ready or not, here we go.

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