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Thursday, December 6, 2012
Ducks shift LB focus with new offers

By Brandon P. Oliver

Mike Mitchell
Mike Mitchell of Plano, Texas, is among the top uncommitted linebackers in the 2013 class.

The impending departure of seniors Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso have made linebackers the biggest area of need for the Oregon in the class of 2013. As the countdown to signing day hit the two-month mark this week, the Ducks took their linebacker recruiting in a whole new direction.

The Ducks are still recruiting ESPN 300 members OLB Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood) and OLB Peter Kalambayi (Matthews, NC/Butler), but they also issued two new offers this week while the coaches have been visiting dozens of targets on the recruiting trail.

Former Auburn commit, LB Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett) was offered by Ducks wide receivers coach Scott Frost on Wednesday. Frost was in Georgia to see wide receiver/safety target Juwaan Williams (Tucker, Ga./Tucker) before checking in with Johnson, the No. 96 player in the ESPN 150.

Over the weekend, Ducks defensive backs coach John Neal tapped into his connections in Alabama to find fast-rising OLB Zach Cunningham (Pinson, Ala./Pinson Valley). Cunningham has seen his recruitment take off after a standout senior season.

They have yet to offer, but junior-college LB Joe Walker (Wilmington, Calif./Harbor College) will be in Eugene this weekend for an official visit.

The Ducks are looking to take three LBs in this class, but could add a fourth if one of them has the potential to move to safety, defensive end or even tight end. As of now, the Ducks have just one LB committed in ATH Tyrell Robinson (San Diego, Calif./Lincoln).

Here are the rest of Oregon’s LB targets:
Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood): The No. 121 player in the ESPN 150 has the Ducks among his final four schools, along with Ohio State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma. According to his father, Mitchell has mostly been in touch with his leader, Ohio State. The Ducks seem to be moving on from the ultra-athletic Mitchell, who set the SPARQ Rating national record at The Opening this past summer.

Peter Kalambayi (Matthews, NC/Butler: The No. 278 player in the ESPN 300 has been committed to Stanford since June. After a recent official visit to Oregon -- where he saw Stanford knock off the Ducks -- Kalambayi said that while he remains committed to the Cardinal, the two schools are even and he will make a final decision later in the process.

Joe Walker (Wilmington, Calif./Harbor College): Walker was a full-qualifier out of high school and will have three years of eligibility once he enrolls in a school this January. Walker is being pursued by Texas A&M, Syracuse and others, but a good visit to Eugene this coming weekend could lead to an offer and possibly a commitment.

Zayd Issah (Harrisburg, PA/Central Dauphin): The former Penn State commit opened things up back in August and has narrowed it down to Arizona State, Oregon and Penn State. ASU head coach Todd Graham recruited Issah while he was at Pittsburgh and continued to do so once he left for the Sun Devils.

Issah was born in Portland, Ore., and still has family in the area. He has a good relationship with the Ducks' staff and now that his season is over, he is working on scheduling an official visit to Eugene. The Ducks likely trail Penn State at the moment, but a strong visit could change things in a hurry.

Ivan McLennan (Torrance, Calif./El Camino College): The Washington State commit has been in contact with the Ducks since receiving an offer from them in September. He remains committed to the Cougars despite the turmoil in Pullman surrounding Mike Leach. The feeling is that a big push by the Ducks could have him switch his commitment.

Danny Mattingly (Spokane, Wash./Mead): Mattingly has been committed to Notre Dame since June but has kept his options open. UCLA, Oregon and others are in hot pursuit of the Irish commit and Mattingly will likely visit Oregon in the coming weeks. Mattingly is one to watch as many feel he is a better prospect at tight end. Should he opt to sign with the Ducks, he could very well end up on the offensive side of the ball.