Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Five OL the Ducks' should offer
By Brandon P. Oliver
Even though the Ducks signed five offensive linemen in the Class of 2013, they know that a program can never have enough big men up front. The Ducks landed two Under Armour All-Americans up front in Cameron Hunt (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and Evan Voeller (West Linn, Ore./West Linn) and added three intriguing-but-raw incoming linemen who will likely redshirt.
In the Ducks' fast-paced offensive system, a lot is required of the five up front. Not everyone fits the system and not everyone wants to play in it. Not that they are out of shape by any means, but two of the players on this list are most likely lacking offers because the fit isn't necessarily there. They are two of the top OL from the west coast in the past few years, so they are included based on that alone.
Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial) -- The ESPN Watch List member would be an elite prospect in any recruiting class. The 6-foot-2, 316-pound guard was the MVP at the Los Angeles NFTC in 2012. The OL group that day featured USC signee Nico Falah (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), UCLA signees John Lopez (Orange, Calif./Lutheran) and Alex Redmond (Los Alamitos, Calif./Los Alamitos) along with Hunt, Talamaivao's former teammate. He doesn't necessarily have the look at first glance, but he has the footwork, the skills and the agility to dominate any opponent. He grew up a fan of USC but was blown away by the Alabama offer. The Trojans may not have room for another lineman in the class, so Talamaivao may be forced to look elsewhere.
Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) -- Like fellow Watch List member, Talamaivao, Mama recently received an offer from the defending national champion Crimson Tide. It isn't often that an SEC team, especially Alabama, comes out west for a lineman on either side of the ball. Having two in the same year means that Mama and Talamaivao are as good as it gets. Mama is a massive kid with a huge frame, but like Talamaivao, he will shock you with his quickness. He has enough athleticism to get his hands on any defender, and once he does it's over. Mama doesn't look like an Oregon offensive lineman on the hoof, but he could play in the Ducks' system. The Ducks are pursuing a number of teammates from St. John Bosco. Mama is the best of the bunch, but he doesn't yet have an offer. One should come eventually but it might already be too late.
Troy Bacon (Apple Valley, Calif./Apple Valley) -- Bacon holds just one offer -- from TCU -- but as he is evaluated by more coaches, he will become a hot commodity. Many programs feel that his size holds him back at 6-3, 281. He was among the most impressive lineman at the recent NFTC in Los Angeles and showed he belongs among the top offensive linemen in the west. Bacon has very solid fundamentals, good athleticism and a mean streak that leaves opponents on the ground. His offer list will grow very soon, and Oregon should plant the seed now.
Shane Evans (Crystal Lake, Ill./Prairie Ridge) -- Evans holds early offers from MAC schools like Akron, Toledo and Western Michigan. They aren't the only schools that are actively pursuing the talented big man. The 6-5, 275-pound all-state prospect is hearing from a number of big-time programs. Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern and Wisconsin have joined the Ducks in expressing early interest. Evans fits the mold of a Steve Greatwood offensive lineman. He isn't a sluggish, mammoth of a man and he doesn't hold offers from the best of the best. What he does have is talent that can be developed to the point of stardom. It might be a stretch, but keep an eye on Evans, who could become a big-time target by the end of his senior season.
Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) -- Tucker has been committed to USC for months but recently disclosed that he is looking around after not hearing from the new coaches at USC. The Trojans' cross-town rivals have made a big push for Tucker of late, and he's listening. Tucker is the latest Hamilton offensive line star to emerge as a national recruit. He is following in the footsteps of 2011 stars Christian Westerman (Arizona State) and Tyler Johnstone (Oregon). Tucker has schools from the Big Ten and SEC drooling over him, but for now he remains committed to the Men of Troy. With his flirtation with other programs, expect the Ducks to get involved once the Oregon coaches hit the Southwestern states in May. Aside from Johnstone, who emerged as a starter in 2012, the Ducks haven't had much luck with prospects from Hamilton -- the state's top program -- in years past. With the emergence of Johnstone as a future star for the Ducks, though, Oregon might just have an ace in the hole.