- Brandon P. Oliver, Reporter, DuckNation
Much has been made about the size -- or lack thereof -- on the Oregon roster. In past years, that was a legitimate argument, as the Ducks were smaller than most of their opponents. With a recent emphasis on matching up better with power teams, the Ducks have begun to recruit bigger players at every position.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly said as much during the Ducks' spring game in April, when he told ESPN's Brock Huard that he realized the Ducks were built to win the Pac-12, but they needed to be built to win the BCS.
It was mostly the offensive and defensive lines that took the heat for being undersized. Last year's recruiting class saw the Ducks add 6-foot-8, 300-pound Arik Armstead, 6-7, 270-pound DeForest Buckner and 6-9, 280-pound Stetzon Bair to the defensive line. The three of them have the size to line up on anyone's defensive line.
While the front lines were exposed against Auburn and LSU, last year's game against USC showed that the Ducks needed more size in the secondary as well.
While they won't be lining up at cornerback, the Ducks did sign two big safeties in 2012 -- 6-2, 190-pound Reggie Daniels and 6-2, 195-pound Oshay Dumore. Both were brought in to add bulk to the Ducks' last line of defense.
Their size will help not only on the back end but also in the run game. Oregon uses its safeties in run defense more than most programs do, so the added size will help plug holes up front.
With three players committed so far in 2013 that could play wide receiver, corner, safety or outside linebacker, it is obvious that defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti is following a pattern.
Chris Seisay (American Canyon, Calif./American Canyon) is a versatile playmaker who is just learning the nuances of defensive back. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound athlete has played defensive back for only two years.
The Ducks offered the three-star as an athlete but have told him he will wind up at corner or safety, depending on how he develops at those spots.
"They like my size and my ability to make plays," Seisay said. "I think my future is at defensive back, because I haven't played it that much but I have a good understanding of how to attack it."
Tyrell is likely to grow into a linebacker but also could play wide receiver or safety for the Ducks.
"That is one of main reasons we chose Oregon," said the 6-3, 210-pound Tyrell Robinson. "They have big plans for us and want to move us around to see where they can best utilize our versatility."
Thought to be the more versatile of the two, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Tyree is likely to start out at cornerback or wide receiver.
"They said they want big corners and that they feel like I can play there because of my athleticism," Tyree Robinson said. "No matter where they put me I feel like I have a good chance to make an impact."
With Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Terrance Mitchell, two physical cornerbacks set to return in 2013, the Ducks will have a chance to mix and match the rest of the secondary. Safeties Erick Dargan and Avery Patterson are also set to return in 2013, giving the Ducks a group of experienced and physical defensive backs.
The way the Ducks rotate defensive players will allow them to use different combinations to see where their younger and bigger athletes will fit in the future.
By the time the 2014 season comes around, the Ducks could line up a secondary that includes Seisay (6-2) and Tyree Robinson (6-3) at the cornerback spots -- with a combination of Tyrell Robinson (6-3), Reggie Daniels and Oshay Dunmore (both 6-2) at the safety spots.
Size isn't everything, as the Ducks have proved over the years, but if they are able to roll out a lineup in the secondary that looks like that, size no longer would be an issue.
If Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti has his way, that is exactly how his secondary will look in the coming years.
11hKevin Gemmell and Erik McKinney