Monday, March 4, 2013
Ducks look for lockdown corners in 2014
By Brandon P. Oliver
Oregon has some work to do to land two-way star Adoree' Jackson.
With one of the best cornerback tandems in school history on the current roster, the Oregon Ducks are sitting pretty at one of the most important positions on the field. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Terrance Mitchell are both eligible to leave for the NFL after the 2013 season.
Both of them -- especially Ekpre-Olomu -- are rated highly as draft prospects at the position. Whether or not one or both of them opt to leave for the next level, the Ducks have a tough task ahead when looking to find their future replacements.
Here are some of the names worth keeping an eye on early in the recruiting cycle.
Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra): The ESPN Watch List athlete is one of the top two-way athletes in the country. Jackson (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) currently holds offers from programs such as Florida, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame and USC. The Ducks have yet to pull the trigger, but have him as a high-priority target. Jackson is also a track and field star and has stated that he intends to compete in both sports at the next level. A school's track and field program will play a major role in his decision. Jackson is a perfect fit for the Ducks on offense, defense and as a track athlete, but until they offer, they will be on the outside looking in.
Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen): Brown (6-0, 180) in among the top players in the country and the ESPN Watch List member has the early offers to prove it. He expressed early interest in getting in touch with the Oregon staff last summer and maintains an interest in the Ducks. It would take a monumental effort to pull Brown from the SEC or the Big-12, but the Ducks will do their best as elite cover corners like Brown don't come along every day.
Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito): Oregon hasn't been mentioned in the same breath as the ESPN Watch List member to date, but Pickett (5-11, 180) is among the top defensive backs in the West and his versatility is what Oregon looks for. Pickett can play corner or safety at an elite level and would give the Ducks another versatile defender to add to their ever-growing arsenal of multi-skilled defenders.
Naijiel Hale (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco): Hale (5-11, 175) recently stated that an Oregon offer would be a dream come true and the aggressive defender hopes to make a visit to Eugene before his senior season. Hale currently holds offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, Cal, Nebraska and Washington State. Hale is one of the most aggressive and physical corners in the West and should see a spike in offers with a strong spring and summer.
Jonathan Lockett (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei): Lockett (5-11, 170) came on strong as a junior for the Monarchs and currently holds offers from Boise State, San Jose State and Washington. Lockett has the potential to become a star but his stock took a bit of a tumble after being dominated by John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) when Mater Dei faced Long Beach Poly in the CIF Championship game. Smith makes most opponents look ordinary, but Lockett will need to show improvement to receive an offer from the Ducks.
Donovan Lee (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade): Lee (5-9, 170), who was overshadowed by teammate and Nebraska signee Terrell Newby during the 2012 season, has yet to earn any offers, but he has been in touch with a number of schools. Lee is undersized, but is among the elite athletes in the West for the Class of 2014. He has high interest in the Ducks early on and likes the idea of playing in the Ducks' high-octane offense. Lee could play on either side of the ball, but despite his stature, he likely projects best at cornerback.
Tyler Whiley (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral): Whiley (6-0, 175) is a versatile athlete that could play cornerback, safety or wide receiver at the next level. He hails from the same school as current Oregon OL Andre Yruretagoyena and has his eye on the Ducks early in the process. He has early offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Oklahoma and Washington, with schools like Cal, Colorado, Oregon and UCLA keeping tabs on him.
Malik Beachum (American Canyon, Calif./American Canyon): A former teammate of Oregon defensive back signee Chris Seisay, Beachum (5-11, 170) took an unofficial visit to Oregon with Seisay back in the fall and has Oregon among his early leaders. He recently attended Cal's junior day and hopes to earn an offer from the Bears soon. Beachum is hearing from Arizona, Boise State, Cal, Oregon and Utah and hopes to up his stock with strong camp and passing-league circuit performances over the next few months.