Dan Lanning and Co. appear to be making good use of the transfer portal in bringing in some potentially solid pieces. It helps that, offensively and defensively, the Ducks were left with an excellent foundation from Mario Cristobal’s recruiting efforts. With what Oregon has in place and the direction they’re going, it’s not an especially hard sell and we have some interesting talent coming in. This week we look at the defensive side of the incoming transfers.
Sophomore Christian Gozalez (6-2, 200 lbs.) comes to the Ducks from Colorado by way of high school in Texas. Recruited as a 4* cornerback, his play was outstanding last year and he has the potential to go All-Pac-12 this year (after being an honorable mention last season) as well as be a future NFL draft pick.
Gonzalez followed cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin from Colorado when Martin was selected to join Lanning’s coaching staff in Oregon. Coach and player have an great relationship and Gonzalez has something of a head start in knowing the particulars that Martin coaches. Gonzalez will shore up a secondary that was depleted after the 2021 season with the loss of veterans to attrition and of cornerbacks using the transfer portal to go elsewhere. This is a fantastic get from the Ducks coaching staff.
Senior Jordon Riley (6-6, 310 lbs.) is a defensive lineman who played his 2021 season with Nebraska. Picked up as a JUCO by the Cornhuskers in 2020, Riley was a 3* recruit out of high school. He played 11 games for Nebraska last season, with eight tackles (five solo) including one for loss.
A recurring theme here is one that will be familiar with many of the transfers to Oregon, where transfers are following position coaches that are now on staff with the Ducks. In Riley’s case, he followed defensive line coach Tony Tuioti from Nebraska.
Riley adds size on the line and appears to be a good fit for a system that is looking for big bodies on the offensive and defensive lines. While probably not seen as a starter, Riley will add needed depth and the ability to rotate fresh bodies in on the defensive line.
Another defensive line transfer from Nebraska is junior Casey Rogers (6-5, 295 lbs.). After playing every game with the Cornhuskers in 2020, Riley was injured in the 2021 fall camp and missed five games. Upon returning, he tallied 17 tackles with three for a loss and .5 sacks. Riley is a 3* recruit out of Syracuse, NY., and also followed coach Tuioti to the Ducks.
Like Jordon Riley, Rogers is likely to be something of a backup player on the Ducks; however, he is another large, versatile body that’s certainly capable of starting. Don’t be surprised if the Ducks are rotating these guys in quite a bit in a hybrid second-string role.
Junior Sam Taimani (6-2, 330 lbs.) is another big, interior body coming to the Ducks. After an excellent 2021 season with the Washington Huskies, Taimani was something of a surprise entry into the transfer portal - which ran afowl (pun intended) of much of the Purple Madness up north. Some introspection will reveal that this wasn’t a far-fetched decision from the 3* recruit out of Salt Lake City. He’s familiar with Tuioti and Lanning, and their successes, as well as the Polynesian contingent that comprises defense on the Ducks. “I love it here. The coaches, the players, the whole environment, I love it...Looking at the guys here, I’d love to come to play with Noah Sewell, Mase Funa, Popo Aumavae, Sua’ava Poti, all these guys. It’s funny because I know a couple of them from high school.” (Quotes reported by Matt Prehm of Duck Territory, 4/10/22).
Taimani is big enough to be something of a nose tackle and will probably vie for a starting tackle position. He also adds some great depth to the defensive line and his experience will challenge the players around him. How the defensive line shakes out in fall camp will be a prime topic of interest to Ducks fans.
Technically speaking, David is not a transfer to the Ducks, but he is included in the list because he did enter the transfer portal on May 5th. Sophomore Daymon David (6-1, 186 lbs.) was a 4* recruit to last year’s class from Reistertown, MD, and his entry into the transfer portal is a bit of a puzzle. Yes, he battled some injuries last season that impacted his playing time, but he was expected to play a larger role in the secondary this coming season.
David was sidelined with a shoulder injury and did not play in the spring game, entering the transfer portal shortly after. It was announced on June 17th that Daymon David had chosen to remain with Oregon. Provided he can stay healthy, he will be a valuable re-addition to the depleted safety position. David comes back on scholarship, giving Oregon 87 scholarship players going into the fall, as it stands right now.