The Oregon Ducks’ defensive line was a big factor in their success as a football team last year. They ranked in the nation’s top five in sacks, and held opponents to an average of 24.6 points per game. The team lost two of their senior defensive ends, Terrell Turner and Brandon Hanna. Turner and Hanna played in all fourteen games last year, and combined for a total of 80 career appearances in Oregon colors. The team will be returning three other defensive ends however, and will add two freshmen as they continue to dominate the opponents’ offense.
Oregon’s lone senior at the defensive end position this year is Dion Jordan, last year’s starting end. At 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, Jordan is looking to build on the 33 games that he played throughout his career. Last year Jordan accounted for 25 solo tackles and 42 total, averaging three tackles per game.
The Ducks also have two sophomores coming back for the 2012 season, David Kafovalu and Tony Washington. Kafovalu, at 6-foot3 and 250 pounds, saw little playing time during his freshman year but will most likely be utilized in assisting Washington in filling in at Turner’s position.
Washington is of a similar build at 6-foot-3, 252 pounds. He played backup to Terrell Turner last year, appearing in 10 games during the 2011 season. Washington is expected to start at the position, but the competition is open.
Oregon has welcomed two freshmen onto the football team. Koa Ka’ai, a 6-foot-4, 249-pound redshirt, is coming out of Kamehameha High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. Ka’ai was named to the first team all-state football roster by ESPN, and was considered to be the best prospect out of the state of Hawaii. He was inducted as one of 12 into the Hawaii High Ring of Honor, a very prestigious award for senior athletes all throughout the state.
Ka’ai is joined by a Ryan McCandless, a 6-foot-2, 213-pound athlete out of Santa Rosa, California. McCandless attended Cardinal Newman High School, where he starred as a football and track athlete. He will bring his speed and athleticism to the Ducks’ line, which he can use to quickly get into the backfield.
The Ducks are once again looking promising this season, and will use their defensive prowess to put the offense into good field position. In a season where Oregon and USC are the frontrunners to win the Pac-12 title, every aspect of a team must be above exceptional in order to walk away with the title. Oregon plans to do just that.