The first day of Oregon’s spring practices is April 1 (no, we aren’t fooling you), which means we’ve got about three weeks until the Ducks take the field again. Last week we counted down the top five Oregon recruiting classes, and this week we’re taking a look at the top five players to keep track of during spring ball.
Why to watch them: The Ducks have three incoming junior college players. All three are talented players, however there are two that you should keep an eye on this spring both because of their skill level and their ability to address needs for the Ducks. Both Talia and Lousi enrolled early, so they’ll have a jump on the other 2014 commits, but there will also be a learning curve from being new to campus.
Talia was ranked as the top DE in the ESPN Junior College rankings. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive end addresses the need for depth and competition on the D-line for the Ducks. With Wade Keliikipi, Taylor Hart and Ricky Havili-Heimuli graduated, Oregon is going to need to find big, talented bodies to fill those holes up front.
Keliikipi, Hart and Havili-Heimuli combined for 134 tackles, including 15.5 for a loss. The trio also recorded 6.5 of the team’s 29 sacks last season. Talia, who was previously committed to Washington but changed his verbal to the Ducks in June 2013, has the size and skill to compete up front for significant reps on the D-line and could be a huge contributor.
Lousi is another guy who could certainly be a contributor for Oregon early. The offensive line is in far less flux than the defensive line, but at 6-5, 295 pounds, Lousi could push the competition at both guard spots. Cameron Hunt started the final six games of the season at right guard, while Hamani Stevens started the final three games of the season at left guard. Both return and have built chemistry with the other members of the offensive line, but that doesn’t mean Lousi can’t come and shake things up this spring.
It’s always interesting to watch the junior college players because they already have a bit of the college playing experience along with a chip on their shoulders that pushes them to prove how ready they are. With only two years of eligibility to play, there’s a greater sense of urgency which could help push both of these guys this spring.