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Insider

Quick hitters: Looking for a linebacker

12/11/2012

A look at the latest news involving Oregon's recruiting as the Ducks try to set themselves up for a fast-and-furious finish on signing day:

The Ducks received commitments from athlete Tyrell Robinson (San Diego/Lincoln) and wide receiver Tyree Robinson (San Diego/Lincoln) in late September. After gaining huge commitments from the twins, it took nearly three months for Oregon to gain another commitment. It might have been a while, but the commitment of junior college linebacker Joe Walker (Wilmington, Calif./Harbor College) was worth the wait.

Walker isn't a big name in recruiting circles, but there's a reason Texas A&M and others were in hot pursuit of the 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker. Walker plans to sign with Oregon in two weeks and enroll in January. As a full qualifier out of Palos Verdes (Calif.) High School, Walker will have four years to complete three years of eligibility, and he will provide depth at middle linebacker to offset the loss of senior Kiko Alonso.

The Ducks are now looking to add one more linebacker to play sideline to sideline in defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti's aggressive scheme.

One of their top linebacker targets is off the market, however.Zayd Issah (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) committed to Penn State over the weekend. He was committed to the Nittany Lions last summer before opening up his recruitment after the NCAA sanctions. Issah had narrowed his list to Arizona State, Oregon and Penn State before recommitting.

The Ducks added another linebacker to their target list by offering former Auburn commit Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett) after visiting him at his high school last week. Linebacker Zach Cunningham (Pinson, Ala./Pinson Valley) has been visited by defensive backs coach John Neal and linebackers coach Don Pellum in the past two weeks. Pellum will visit again this week and an official offer could be extended during the visit.

Johnson is a long shot to sign with the Ducks, but Cunningham -- who is quickly rising up recruiting boards everywhere -- is not. Initial reports were that the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Cunningham had received an official Oregon offer, but as of now that is not the case. The Ducks are high on him and the feeling is being reciprocated in a big way. The visit this week could provide the offer that the fast-rising athlete is looking for.

Athlete Danny Mattingly (Spokane, Wash./Mead), a former Notre Dame pledge, recently visited UCLA and Arizona State. He is also considering Miami, Oregon and Washington. After canceling a visit to Oregon last month because of his playoff schedule, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound linebacker and tight end will be in Eugene this weekend. Mattingly played both ways in high school and a commitment from the four-star player would give the Ducks another athlete with potential to make an impact on either side of the ball.

Walker isn't the only junior college player the Ducks are recruiting. The Ducks are checking out quarterback Tanner McEvoy (Hillsdale, NJ/Arizona Western), who could provide depth in case there's a transfer of one of the quarterbacks on the current roster. McEvoy, a former South Carolina signee, has several schools -- including Texas -- keeping tabs on him. He would have three years of eligibility, the same as Oregon's starter, Marcus Mariota.