Oregon is going to be absolutely stacked on offense for the next few years. Dan Lanning has done a great job securing hog-mollies for the O line and great skill players to move the chains. Today we take a look at the heart-breakers and hit-makers that will patrol the defensive backfield for the Ducks. Lanning, Demetrice Martin (cornerbacks), and Chris Hampton (safeties) will have plenty of length to work with as all four defensive back signees in the 2024 signing class stand 6’ or taller. Pair that length with some elite speed and ball skills and there are some very dangerous defenders competing for playing time in the secondary.
Cornerback – Junipero Serra High School – Gardena, CA
Fields fit the mold of several recent corner signees for the Ducks. Two inches over six feet and 185 lbs, he has the potential to be frightening in coverage and still be an enforcer in run support. A track star also, Dakoda has the closing ability and big-hit potential to either take away contested balls or make receivers wish the quarterback had tucked and run.
A varsity player since his freshman season, Fields is still just scratching the surface of what could be NFL caliber potential. Elite speed shows clearly on film, could also be a weapon in the return game after taking an interception end zone to end zone. There are several solid players already on campus, but with Kyree Jackson off to the draft and several departures in the transfer portal shaking up the potential depth chart, there is playing time to be had.
Safety – Forney High School – Forney, TX
The shortest of the Oregon signees at defensive back is also the heaviest. Flowers carries 202 lbs of mean on his 6’ frame and he is more than willing to hit opposing ball carriers with every ounce of it. Has frighteningly long arms and has the ability to both frustrate receivers and strip away from runners.
Experience at safety, nickel, and corner could help him see the field this season as replaces has competition for 3 starting spots in the back end. May not be the fastest player at the position, but shows great recovery and willingness to engage and deliver punishing hits. Ball-hawk with 7 interceptions and a forced fumble as a senior could create multiple turnover opportunities for the Ducks.
Cornerback – College of San Mateo – San Mateo, CA
A three star recruit out of high school Laulea developed into the the #1 juco cornerback in the cycle after being absolutely lock-down at San Mateo. At 6’ 4” and 190 lbs, Sione as an absolute terror in pass coverage with long arms and great ball skills. Good closing speed in run support or blitzing off the edge allows him to thrive even when playing on an island at the corner spot.
Laulea could enroll this winter and use spring camp to compete for a role in the 2-deep. Corner is a position with a lot of talent on the roster, but two years of juco starting experience could give him the leg up on other recruits and younger players from the previous class.
Safety – Grant Union High School – Sacramento, CA
Lopa is taller than many receivers he faces at 6’ 5” and moves very well at 190lbs. With the length to disrupt catches, it is surprising that it is his tackling and speed that jumps out in watching game film. Kingston is an absolute enforcer in run support with the athleticism to run down ball carriers even when the play goes away from his side of the field. A receiver also, he has the hands and reach to take away anything thrown near him and take it back the other way.
Projecting as a STAR, or safety hybrid, for the Ducks, Lopa will be competing with several other highly touted recruits to break onto the field. Having three inches of vertical advantage over every other DB on the roster (except fellow newcomer Sione Laulea) could translate to early playing time if he can adjust to the speed of college ball.
Cornerback – St. Frances Academy – Baltimore, MD
The 6’ 1” 185 lbs cornerback comes to Oregon all the way from the east coast. Shows good instincts and a high football IQ, quickly diagnosing plays and closing on the football. Able to keep up with most receivers in coverage and hard-hitting in run support. Reports out of the Under Armor All American Bowl practices pegged him as having the longest arms among all corners. Uses length to interrupt catches anytime he is nearby.
Deep cornerback room leaves Ify with some stiff competition for early playing time, but Oregon has gone deep in its rotations at defensive back in recent seasons, especially with players cross-trained at the STAR position. Of course, as Coach Lanning says: “If you’re good enough, you’re old enough.”
Who’s Got Our Backs?
Another example of Oregon being able to recruit nationally, Lanning and Co landed a pair of top 10 corners, a top 10 safety and the #1 juco corner. Adding those players into the mix of an already highly rated secondary will make it a fun unit to watch through camp and into the early season. Of the 5 starting spots, 3 are likely locked down by returning starters, but behind them there is a lot of youth vying for time in the 2-deep.
Big 10 QBs, you’ve been warned.