Oregon Ducks: Tyree Robinson

Our look at position groups in the Pac-12 continues with the safeties.

Arizona: The Wildcats have a lot of experience at safety with a combined 78 starts between Jourdon Grandon, Tra'Mayne Bondurant and Jared Tevis. All three of their backups on the AdvoCare V100 Bowl depth chart -- Anthony Lopez, William Parks and Jamar Allah -- also return.

Arizona State: Damarious Randall returns as one of the more talented safeties in the conference after a season in which he finished tied for third on the team with 71 tackles. Marcus Ball is a strong candidate to eventually earn the job next to Randall, but he's still working his way back from a clavicle injury that cost him the 2013 season. Laiu Moeakiola, who appeared in 10 games last year as a reserve, James Johnson, Jayme Otomewo and Ezekiel Bishop are other names to watch.

California: Cal started five different players at safety last year and four of them -- Michael Lowe, Cameron Walker, Avery Sebastian and Damariay Drew -- will be back. Sebastian began the year in the starting lineup and had an interception and 10 tackles before suffering a season-ending Achilles tear in the first half of the season opener. Look for him to regain his starting job next to Lowe.

Colorado: The Buffs need to replace SS Parker Orms, who had 26 career starts and 10 last season, but FS Jered Bell will return. All three of the players competing to replace Orms -- Marques Mosley, Terrel Smith and Tedric Thompson -- have started at least three games. Smith redshirted last season after he underwent shoulder surgery and has 19 career starts.

Oregon: The Ducks lose both Brian Jackson and Avery Patterson from a secondary that has consistently been among the nation's best. Fifth-year senior Erick Dargan, Patterson's high school teammate, looks to slide into his first full-time starting role after three years of meaningful contributions on both special teams and reserve duty. Opposite him, Issac Dixon is the presumed favorite with Tyree Robinson and Reggie Daniels also in the mix.

Oregon State: The Beavers have both Ryan Murphy and Tyrequek Zimmerman back for their third year as starters, which should help soften the blow of losing CB Rashaad Reynolds. A few others to watch are sophomore Cyril Noland-Lewis, Justin Strong, Brandon Arnold, Zack Robinson and walk-on Micah Audiss, who was No. 2 behind Zimmerman in the season-ending depth chart.

Stanford: Ed Reynolds' early departure for the NFL creates the one real unknown spot for the Cardinal. Two former offensive players -- QB Dallas Lloyd and WR Kodi Whitfield -- are in the competition for the vacant spot, as is Kyle Olugbode. Zach Hoffpauir will join the competition once baseball season is over. The winner will play next to Jordan Richards, a senior who has started the past two seasons and played regularly as a freshman.

UCLA: Starters Randall Goforth and Anthony Jefferson are both back after being named all-Pac-12 honorable mention last season. Two names to watch are Tahaan Goodman and Tyler Foreman, both of whom arrived as part of the Class of 2013.

USC: Su'a Cravens and Josh Shaw are back, but the Trojans will have to replace Dion Bailey, who left early for the NFL after converting to safety from linebacker last year. Shaw could wind up back at corner, which would open the door for Leon McQuay III. Gerald Bowman got a medical redshirt after appearing in three games last year and should provide depth.

Utah: Veteran Eric Rowe is set to begin his fourth year as a starter in the Utes' secondary, but he'll play next to a new player with Michael Walker out of eligibility. Charles Henderson was Walker's primary backup last season, but look for junior-college transfer Tevin Carter -- a former Cal Bear -- to challenge him for the starting job.

Washington: The Huskies are looking to fill both starting spots and will likely do so with young players. Sophomores Brandon Beaver, Kevin King and Trevor Walker all saw spot duty last year and the program signed an impressive crop of high school safeties, including Bellevue's Bishard “Budda” Baker.

Washington State: Replacing Deone Bucannon means replacing one of the school's all-time greats at his position. Isaac Dotson looks like the favorite to take that spot, but will be pushed by David Bucannon, Darius Lemora and true freshman Markell Sanders, who arrived for spring practice.



The first day of spring practice is more than a month away, but it’s never too early to take a look at what Oregon must do this spring to be a championship contender in the fall.

We’ll be doing different countdowns looking at players, position groups and position battles over the next month, and we’re starting this week with the five position groups that need to improve the most. Monday, we examined the offensive line. We jump over to the other side of the ball on Tuesday to see how the defensive backs must improve in 2014.

[+] EnlargeBrett Hundley
AP Photo/Don RyanErick Dargan was productive in a backup role at safety in 2013.
No. 4: Safety

2013 review: The defense was solid in 2013. It gave up 370 yards per game (No. 37 in the country, No. 3 in the Pac-12). And, like the 2012 defense, the 2013 defense was one that kept opponents to about three touchdowns a game -- the Ducks held teams to 20.5 points per game (No. 13 in the nation, No. 2 in the Pac-12). This past season the Ducks returned a talented and experienced secondary that recorded Pac-12 bests in passing yards allowed per game (205) and yards per attempt (5.5). The Ducks tallied 17 interceptions to their 15 allowed passing touchdowns, while leading the nation in pass completions that gained 10-plus yards (34.3 percent). The national average was 46.5 percent; the closest Pac 12 team was Stanford (38.1 percent).

Why they must improve: Oregon needs replacements at both safety spots this spring as it lost both Avery Patterson and Brian Jackson to graduation. Patterson finished as the No. 3 tackler on the team in 2013 with 80 stops. He recorded three interceptions, six pass breakups and nine passes defended. Jackson tallied 71 total tackles, three pass breakups and three passes defended. Going into the spring, it looks as though Issac Dixon (10 tackles) and Erick Dargan (24 tackles, four pass breakups, five passes defended) will be the front runners for the jobs. While their experience last season will help them, they’ll need to make major strides so the defense can continue to be elite. Tyree Robinson is another name that could figure in to the equation. He redshirted last season but was one of Oregon’s top recruits in the 2013 class (was classified as a wide receiver by ESPN.com). So between Dixon and Dargan, they’ll have some experience at safety, and the competition provided by Robinson and a few other younger players should push along the development of everyone.

The countdown:
It has been an eventful week already for the Oregon Ducks, preceded by a solid performance in Saturday's spring game. The Ducks hosted several recruits on the weekend and made a strong impression on each of them. On Tuesday, the momentum kept up as the Ducks nabbed their third commitment for the Class of 2014.

It isn't often that an athlete who has the ability to play multiple sports in college comes along.

The Oregon Ducks are no stranger to that concept. Highly touted freshman Arik Armstead played a role on defense for the Fiesta Bowl champions, before hitting the hardwood for the sweet 16-bound Ducks. While playing two sports might be an option, or have an appeal to some high school athletes, how do a school's other athletic teams play into their college decision?


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Ducks land son of former NBA All-Star 

March, 7, 2013
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Small forward Elgin Cook (Milwaukee/Northwest Florida State College), the son of former NBA all-star Alvin Robertson, verbally committed to Oregon on Wednesday, ESPN.com has confirmed.

Cook originally signed with Iowa State out of high school but opted for junior college after failing to qualify. The 6-foot-6 wing chose the Ducks over Gonzaga, Arkansas, Illinois, New Mexico and South Carolina, among others.

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Oregon recruiting: Safeties to watch 

February, 27, 2013
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Jamal AdamsMiller Safrit/ESPNJamal Adams (left) is one of the best defensive backs in the Class of 2014.

With the impending departure of both of their starting safeties following the 2013 season, the Oregon Ducks will be looking to add at least a couple of standouts to the back end of their defense in the Class of 2014.

The Ducks have plenty of young talent at the position and will likely return the emerging Erick Dargan in 2013. The young and talented group, consisting of redshirt freshmen Reggie Daniels, Oshay Dunmore and Eric Amoako, is unproven on the field. The Ducks also didn't sign any true safeties in the Class of 2013. Incoming freshmen Tyree Robinson and Chris Seisay are both versatile athletes with good size that have unlimited potential as defensive backs. Like the group of redshirt freshmen ahead of them, Robinson and Seisay have a lot to prove before stepping in and maintaining the level of play the Ducks have enjoyed with T.J. Ward, Patrick Chung, John Boyett, Brian Jackson and Avery Patterson manning the deep third over the past few seasons.

Here is a look at some of the Ducks' top targets at the position in the Class of 2014.


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With the 19 players signed last week, Oregon landed some players who might remind their fans of former Ducks.


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Pac-12 recruiting notebook

February, 7, 2013
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SAN DIEGO -- The twins Robinson -- Tyree and Tyrell -- and Darren Carrington all went window shopping. But in the end, they trusted their guts and suppressed the knee-jerk, caveat emptor reaction when Chip Kelly left the Oregon Ducks for the NFL.

At a national signing day event at the San Diego Hall of Champions, the trio from San Diego all put ink to their verbal commitments and signed to play with the Ducks, ending weeks of speculation that they would be 11th-hour flips and spurn the Ducks and new head coach Mark Helfrich.

"At first it was about exploring options," said Tyrell Robinson, who attends Lincoln High in San Diego with his brother. "We made a commitment to Chip Kelly. When he left, we felt disappointed because who doesn't want to play for a man like that? Me and my brother took our trips to UW and SC, we turned down Ohio State. We were very close to switching schools. We liked UW a lot on our last visit. But at the end of the day we felt Oregon was still the best choice for us."

"Us" being the operative word. Because the Robinsons were going to be a package deal no matter what.

"That was really important to us," Tyrell said. "We were going to go to the same place so it was a matter of finding the spot that was best for us. We really had to think about it. We wanted to see what else was out there after Chip left. That was our chance to get out there and see what else was available.

"But Coach Helfrich told us we were going to be a big factor in this recruiting class and he felt we could come in right away and make an impact."

Carrington, a wide receiver from Horizon High School, said he liked the elevation of Scott Frost from receivers coach to offensive coordinator.

"I was definitely considering somewhere else," he said. "They talked about throwing the ball more and I think in the end, this was the best fit for me."

Carrington's father, Darren Carrington Sr., was the main speaker at the event that included hundreds of San Diego athletes in various sports. The former NFL safety said he was there to counsel his son, but ultimately let him make his own decision.

"I was there to give him information, but you're raising a man so you have to teach him to make up his own mind," Carrington Sr. said. "Chip was checking things out so we thought it was only fair that we check things out. We took a couple of trips and ultimately this is what he thought was best for him."

MORA THE CLOSER

Center Scott Quessenberry (Carlsbad, La Costa Canyon High), the No. 3-rated center nationally and an ESPN 300 player, said head coach Jim Mora was "very convincing" when he met with him. One of the early knocks on Mora, of course, was that he lacked college experience and might struggle in recruiting. But his first two recruiting classes say otherwise.

"I hope he's proved a lot of people wrong," Quessenberry said. "We've got a heck of a class. He's changed people's minds about recruiting and UCLA football. We're hungry. We're coming and we're going to win a lot of games."

Quessenberry said he prefers the center position, but feels he's versatile enough to play anywhere on the line.

"Anywhere they need me, I'm ready," he said.

CHANGE OF HEART

Cornerback Derek Babiash (Poway, Poway High) said he's at peace with his decision to sign with Arizona after initially giving a commitment to Washington. The 6-foot, 165-pound cornerback who ranks 38th nationally at the position, said he got caught up in all of the excitement of being recruited when he made his initial commitment.

"When I made my first commitment, I went on a spring game visit and I think it was rushed and spur of the moment," Babiash said. "I just got really excited. I went home and thought on it and decided it wasn't going to be the right place for me.

"I think I'll have the opportunity to step in right away and if I work hard I can be one of the five DBs in that (3-3-5 defensive) set."

USED TO WINNING

New Colorado running back Michael Adkins (La Mesa, Helix High) comes from one of the strongest high school football programs in San Diego. He's aware of the difficulties facing Colorado and he's looking forward to attacking it head on.

"I'm from Helix and we have a winning tradition," Adkins said. "I hate losing. I'm looking forward to getting there and helping change some things. The team is young so hopefully we can come in and start making a difference in the Pac-12."

Asked about new coach Mike MacIntyre, Adkins said he loved the enthusiasm.

"He's a fiery guy," Adkins said. "He knows his stuff. And I loved the whole staff. They really felt like a family."

Video: San Diego Ducks

February, 6, 2013
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San Diego prospects -- WR Darren Carrington, WR Tyree Robinson and ATH Tyrell Robinson -- talk about signing with Oregon.

Robinsons' commits set tone for Ducks 

February, 6, 2013
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Tyree Robinson, Tyrell RobinsonBlair Angulo/WeAreSC.comSan Diego twins Tyree Robinson (left) and Tyrell Robinson made things official Wednesday.

The Oregon Ducks were on the verge of losing four of their top commits after Chip Kelly left Oregon with less than a month to go before signing day. Now that the day has come, it's clear that the Ducks' football program is about more than one man.

During a ceremony at their high school this morning, long-time Oregon commits Tyrell Robinson (San Diego/Lincoln) and his twin brother, WR Tyree Robinson, made sure the rumors of their departure were put to rest for good. The brothers never decommitted from Oregon, but many thought the Washington Huskies had convinced them to flip in the final week of the recruiting cycle.


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Oregon recruiting; quick hitters 

February, 5, 2013
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DuckNation has the latest updates after an action packed Monday on the recruiting trail.

ATH Dontre Wilson (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto), the No. 55 player in the ESPN 150, announced Monday night that he will be attending Ohio State next year after being committed to Oregon since late May. Losing such a dynamic weapon always hurts, but the Ducks should be just fine.

One reason for that ...


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Oregon recruiting: weekend rewind 

February, 4, 2013
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The Oregon Ducks have been making a strong push on the recruiting trail in recent weeks, but they have a handful of commits that are still trying to decide where they'll ultimately sign. Aside from trying to keep their current recruits on board, the Ducks are working to add a few more pieces to the puzzle.


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Recruiting battles loom for Helfrich, Ducks 

January, 31, 2013
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Mark Helfrich is off to a solid start in his first two weeks as head coach of the Oregon Ducks. Helfrich was able to retain the majority of his staff and to date has been able to gain three new commitments from 2013 recruits.

Under Helfrich, Oregon has added WR Devon Allen (Phoenix/Brophy Prep), OL Elijah George (Las Vegas/Arbor View), ATH Juwaan Williams (Tucker, Ga./Tucker) and QB Damion Hobbs (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill), who flipped from Utah State to Oregon on Wednesday.

The Ducks are likely to take up to five more commits, depending on the decisions of ATH Dontre Wilson (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto), Darren Carrington (San Diego/Horizon), WR Tyree Robinson (San Diego/Lincoln) and his twin brother, ATH Tyrell Robinson (San Diego/Lincoln).

There has been a lot of action over the past few days. New offers have been issued and last minute in-home visits are taking place daily.


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Thomas TynerCourtesy of Tiffany FiekenThomas Tyner is set to sign with Oregon despite late pushes from other schools.


Recruits, their families, coaches and football programs from around the country are holding their breath in hopes the right decision is made on national signing day. The truth is, no one knows what will happen between now and the time the pen hits the paper at high schools nationwide next Wednesday. What we do know is that both publicly and privately, the biggest decisions of recruits' lives are about to be made official.

For the Oregon Ducks, it appears as if their current commits are locked into the decisions they already have made. Now, the Ducks hope that their latest recruiting efforts provide a boost to an already strong class.

Here is where things stand for the Ducks and what their class might look like by the end of the day on Feb. 6.


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With Scott Frost being promoted to offensive coordinator and Matt Lubick being hired as the new wide receivers' coach, there has been plenty of news surrounding Oregon's WR recruiting lately.

Long-time Ducks WR commit Darren Carrington (San Diego/Horizon) is taking official visits elsewhere as he tries to decide on his future, the Ducks didn't waste any time in snatching up one of the top WR recruits in the West. After finally receiving a football scholarship offer from the Ducks, Semper Fidelis All-American WR Devon Allen (Phoenix/Brophy Prep) committed to the Ducks. Allen had offers from Florida State, Stanford, Texas, UCLA and many more due to his status as an elite hurdler along with his football talent. Similar to how Florida State handled Allen's recruitment, Allen was initially only given a track and field scholarship offer from Oregon. With Carrington looking around, new Ducks coach Mark Helfrich offered Allen a football scholarship to Oregon. Despite the delay, Allen pulled the trigger on Friday.

Devon Allen
Courtesy Louis AllenDevon Allen gives Oregon a potential home-run hitter at wide receiver.
Allen's commitment was the first under Helfrich and gives the Ducks two commits at wide receiver. If Carrington decides to stick with his commitment, the Ducks will be thrilled to have the two on board as future weapons. The Ducks have a couple of commits in the class that could make the switch to WR if need be. Tyree Robinson (San Diego/Lincoln) is slotted to play defensive back in Eugene, but like his twin brother Tyrell Robinson (San Diego/Lincoln) and ATH Chris Seisay (American Canyon, Calif./American Canyon), the No. 273 player in the ESPN 300 can move to offense if the depth chart necessitates the move.

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