Our 11-part series entitled Jim Leavitt’s Starting 11 ended last week, so now it’s time for the defensive guys set to back them up in 2017. This segment is for the reserves.
We are just 26 days away from Oregon’s first game against Southern Utah on Saturday, September 2 at Autzen Stadium.
Before we get to the reserves on defense, here is a look at my updated defensive projections over the last two weeks:
JIM LEAVITT’S STARTING 11
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)
LINEBACKER - A.J. Hotchkins (Monday)
CORNERBACK - Ugo Amadi (Tuesday)
CORNERBACK - Thomas Graham Jr. (Wednesday)
HYBRID LB/CB/S - Tyree Robinson (Thursday)
SAFETY - Brady Breeze (Sunday)
A big part of Oregon’s reserve unit in 2017 will be filled with Willie Taggart commits. We all know Taggart’s recruiting prowess after locking up the No. 1 class for 2018 in his first few months with the program. And now, some of his freshmen are in position and poised for a major impact this season.
Jordon Scott, freshman nose tackle
The young tackle has started in place of recovering DT Scott Pagano during spring and fall practice. Taggart’s commit will be instrumental during the season, whether he’s starting or coming off the bench.
Gus Cumberlander, sophomore defensive end or nose tackle
Cumberlander is showing great signs of progress this fall. The last three days of camp specifically, the sophomore has played a starring role on the d-line.
Hunter Kampmoyer, freshman defensive end
The scout team 2016 Defensive Player of the Year should be ready for an enhanced role in 2017 with Coach T.
Popo Aumavae, freshman defensive tackle
Justin Hollins, junior defensive end
If Hollins finds a consistent role, he can really carve out a nice season. He has been good thus far in camp. The hybrid could start for Leavitt when needed. Hollins has to contend with some serious players in the starting 11.
Gary Baker, sophomore defensive end
Riley Greene, freshman
Drayton Carlberg, sophomore defensive tackle
Elijah George, senior
Jordan Kurahara, junior defensive end
Will provide interior length and experience off the bench. The junior will be an asset to the young guys, as they need time to develop.
Austin Faoliu, freshman defensive tackle
Jonah Moi, senior outside linebacker
The senior is really coming on strong in fall camp, as he looks determined to find a role on this defense. He played in 10 of 12 games last year, including recording his first collegiate sack against Virginia in Week 2.
Sampson Niu, freshman inside linebacker
The freshman is really making a name for himself so far this fall. The linebacker is sparkling, alongside a handful of Duck freshmen like Jordon Scott, Thomas Graham Jr. and Deommodore Lenoir.
Fotu T. Leiato II, junior outside linebacker
Very durable, reliable backup linebacker should any of the starters need a breather. He can start the occasional game when needed.
Keith Simms, sophomore outside linebacker
Pou Peleti-Gore, junior outside linebacker
La'Mar Winston Jr., sophomore outside linebacker
Kaulana Apelu, junior inside linebacker
Special teams ace. Another steady, reliable backup that can be trusted with extended plays on the field after being in the program for the last three years.
Isaac Slade-Matautia, freshman inside linebacker
The freshman has shown signs of life in the first six days of fall camp from the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.
Blake Rugraff, sophomore inside linebacker
Recorded 11 tackles in 2017 Spring Game. The walk-on is looking to make a big contribution this season.
Bryson Young, sophomore outside linebacker
Ty Griffin, senior cornerback
He transitioned from quarterback to cornerback during the 2015 season. It has been an uphill battle since that conversion. Griffin played very little last season but will provide some depth in the defensive backfield for his final collegiate campaign.
Deommodore Lenoir, freshman cornerback
The No. 1 athlete commit from the 2017 class is ready to evolve into one of the best cornerbacks in college football. The highly-touted Taggart recruit could be heavily involved and starting by the opening week, that’s how good he is. It all depends on Lenoir’s development and understanding of the system.
Nick Pickett, freshman safety
Juwaan Williams, senior safety
A solid backup with consistent playing experience last season. He appeared in all 12 games for Oregon last year and was listed as No. 2 on the depth chart at safety.
Jihree Stewart, sophomore cornerback
Khalil Oliver, junior safety
A major safety valve for Leavitt and the defense. Should he not start for the first 11, he will be just as valuable off the bench. Oliver is proven and has upside potential. However, he needs to be more consistent on a weekly basis.
Mattrell McGraw, junior safety
Billy Gibson, freshman safety
The freshman safety has been a star during the first week of camp. He is intercepting passes, deflecting balls and forcing fumbles. He has major upside and could be starting at safety with the departure of Brenden Schooler to wide receiver.
Sean Killpatrick, sophomore safety
Dexter Myers, freshman cornerback
NOW, this really completes our 11-part defensive package. On to the next, Willie Taggart’s Starting 11 offensive series will begin on Tuesday.