Oregon senior A.J. Hotchkins will start at linebacker alongside Troy Dye and Jimmie Swain this season. The former junior college standout will command a bigger role in Jim Leavitt’s 3-4 defense.
We are just 33 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)
LINEBACKER - Jimmie Swain (Sunday)
STARTING LINEBACKER, A.J. HOTCHKINS
He entered Oregon almost immediately after his sophomore campaign in JuCo. It resulted in 35 total tackles, 19 solo, and 2.5 for a loss of yards with the Ducks during his junior season. He has registered 1.5 total sacks at the D-1 level.
In junior college, Hotchkins was a monster. The Tigard product accumulated 101 tackles his freshman year, earning him Player of the Year honors in Southern California.
He was the No. 3 ranked inside linebacker prospect in JuCo according to 247sports.com. Hotchkins amassed 99 tackles as a sophomore and was named an All-American.
The Tigard High School alum was heavily recruited after his JC career. Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Texas Tech, Utah and Washington State were a few of the programs after his services.
The highlight of his Oregon career was a nine-tackle performance against Colorado to open the Pac-12 season in 2016-17. He started four games and appeared in 10 of the Ducks’ 12 contests.
THE FINAL VERDICT
Hotchkins will finish fourth on the team in tackles with 63 on the season. He’s slightly undersized (6’0”), but that is how Leavitt likes his backers. The Portland native will secure 4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a pass deflection. He’ll have a team and career-high 14 tackles in one game.