Oregon football starts their spring practices April 3rd and their spring game will be played April 28th with an 11 a.m. kickoff inside Autzen Stadium.
Leading up to the start of spring practice DuckTerritory.com will take a look at certain areas of the football program and break it down.
Today's article we look at Oregon's five redshirt freshmen on the defensive side of the ball who could help Oregon next season with a good spring.
Rahim Cassell, LB 6-foot 215 pounds
Cassell was star on scout team this past fall earning player of the week for the scout team on defense in weeks leading up to games against Nevada and Arizona State. In fall camp he also looked solid in the reps he got with the older vets and has the solid history of playing in a good California prep program.
With the loss of starting linebackers Dewitt Stuckey and Josh Kaddu Oregon will need to promote from within and have depth fill in the gaps.
This is where Cassell should step in at Oregon next season. He will be one of many young linebackers fighting for a spot in the rotation or two-deep at linebacker.
Cassell moves well and has good weight despite only being 6-feet tall.
Cassell was once a Florida commit before choosing to come to Oregon and his reputation as a player is one that's got elite agility, discipline to stay on his line of attack, and great instincts. In fall camp the reps he did get that the public could see he was always around the ball.
Tyson Coleman, LB 6-foot-1 213 pounds
Coleman arrived to Eugene last spring and got an early jump on his prep for playing as a Duck. He looked solid as a freshman last spring and carried that over into the 2011 football season and was named scout team player of the week in back-to-back weeks for wins at Stanford and Washington.
Like Cassell above him Coleman will have a chance to earn playing time as a freshman with the loss of linebackers ahead of him.
Coleman is a pure athlete and at Lake Oswego high school he did a little bit of everything for the Lakers. He could find himself on either outside linebacker position at Oregon with his speed off the edge being his best trait. Don't count out his strength however as he's really bulked up since arriving to Eugene last spring.
Will need to work himself out of the doghouse however as he was arrested last summer and then wasn't on the travel roster for the Rose Bowl due to unknown reasons.
Issac Dixon, DB 5-foot-11 185 pounds
Dixon is another recruit who arrived to Eugene for spring practices last year after gray-shirting as part of the 2010 recruiting class. Like Coleman Dixon looked solid and found himself starting to work into special teams units during spring drills.
Senior safety Eddie Pleasant has graduated and now-senior John Boyett will be gone after next season. The Ducks will need to find a replacement for Pleasant and start thinking about Boyett's as well.
That means the chance to get onto the field on special teams and into the defensive rotation is there and Dixon with a strong spring could find himself in that spot.
Koa Ka'ai, DE 6-foot-4 245 pounds
Ka'ai came to Oregon because the Ducks had a defensive line depth chart that was favorable following a redshirt past season.
Gone is Terrell Turner and Brandon Hanna and an already thin defensive end position gives the Hawaiian defensive end presents a good pass rushing threat for Oregon's defensive line.
What makes Ka'ai an interesting option next fall is the fact that he also has the size and the strength to slide into the defensive tackle position and provide depth there.
Working on his mechanics will be important and building up more strength and girth will be key for his development this spring.
Sam Kamp, DL 6-foot-4 247 pounds
Kamp is in the same position as Ka'ai in that he's presented a big chance to get onto the field early next year with a big spring due to lack of depth and loss of seniors in last year's rotation.
Kamp is also similar to Ka'ai in that his frame allows him to pack on more weight and play inside at defensive tackle if needed but continue to keep the speed and agility to play off the edge.
Was named defensive scout team player of the week leading up to the week of the Arizona game last season.
The battle between Ka'ai and Kamp will be important to track this spring as it will likely boil over into the fall camp as well.
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DuckTerritory.com will continue our pre-spring practice preview so make sure to come back to DuckTerritory.com.
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