The 2020 Oregon Ducks football team boasted a ridiculous amount of talent on the defensive end, including Kayvon Thibodeaux, Noah Sewell, and Mykael Wright. One player was missing from that group for most of the season: linebacker Justin Flowe.
Flowe suffering a season-ending injury in the opener against Stanford last year. Despite being sidelined for most of the year, the 2020 5-star signee learned a lot from his first year at Oregon.
"Last year was really just a year for me to sit back and just really focus on what I got to do when I come back and that what happened to me was really humbling for me," Flowe said at Oregon football media day. "I told myself it's just a bump in the road, and I just got to keep pushing forward, and that's what I'm doing now."
The Upland High School product had one of the dominant high school highlight reels you'll see, going viral multiple times for his vicious tackles and incredible athleticism. But the transition from high school phenom to college football player was a wake-up call for Flowe.
"The jump from high school to college — I learned a lot," he said. "I just learned that you got to really dedicate yourself to your craft and always stay humble and always try to push yourself. It made me more of a man."
So how is he feeling physically nine months removed from his injury?
"I feel 100 percent," he said. "I feel really good."
The youth of the linebacker unit is expected to take a significant leap this season, especially after the transfer of longtime starter Isaac Slade-Matautia. Flowe returns alongside Sewell, Mase Funa, Adrian Jackson, and Treven Ma'ae, while talented freshmen Keith Brown, Jackson LaDuke, and Jaden Navarette look to get some early playing time.
"All of our linebackers work hard, and we all just try to push each other," Flowe said. "It's a blessing to be with this group of guys."
Ducks fans missed the opportunity to see the dynamic duo of Sewell and Flowe at inside linebacker, but they did get a sneak peek at them playing together in the spring game. Flowe said despite not having played much in meaningful games, he still has great chemistry with the defending Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year.
"The chemistry of me and Noah is really tight because I knew Noah for a long, long time," Flowe said. "We've always been competing at linebacker. We're going to do whatever we can to help the team."
Another exciting prospect in the linebacker room is Keith Brown, who was one of the Ducks' top recruits in the 2021 class. Flowe believes that he will make a solid impact for the Ducks.
"Keith Brown is a really good linebacker. He's gonna show himself," he said. "We're all brothers. We're all looking to make each other better, even the young guys."
Matavao One of Numerous Freshmen Stepping up on Big Stage
Oregon's 2021 recruiting class made a huge stamp on the win over Ohio State.
The Ducks kick off fall camp on Friday four weeks ahead of their season opener against Fresno State on Sept. 4. Flowe is exciting to see fans fill the seats at Autzen Stadium for the first time.
"I just hope to have fans in the stadium because that's really what gets me going is the fans and the environment," he said. "I just hope everything goes normal, and if not, we're still going to try to show ourselves."
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