Oregon has brought in and developed an underrated amount of elite defensive backs in the past couple of years. Players like Thomas Graham Jr., Deommodore Lenoir, Brady Breeze, and Jevon Holland are all about to begin their rookie seasons in the NFL. Since then, the Ducks have kept their foot on the gas in terms of recruiting elite defensive backs, including Dontae Manning, Mykael Wright, and more.
One player that seems to be overlooked is Jeffrey Bassa, the 2021 4-star signee from Utah. Defensive backs like Manning, Avante Dickerson, Jaylin Davies, and Daymon David were often talked about as the next elite group of defensive backs at Oregon, and, of course, they are all talented and have limitless potential, but don't forget about Bassa, who is having himself a solid camp.
Safeties Coach Marcel Yates said this week that Bassa was one of the field generals for the twos, showing that he is coming along nicely as a true freshman. He has great size at 6-foot-2, 217 pounds and is a very versatile defensive back with the ability to play on the back-end at safety or at nickel.
"I feel like it's really showing off how much I can move," Bassa said of his diversity on the field. "Just showing the coaches that you can really put me in different positions, and I can get the job done."
Besides his versatility, what separates Bassa from the rest of the Oregon safeties?
"Since I'm really a bigger defensive back, I would really like to say my physicality and the explosiveness, being able to change direction and come downhill and take on the block."
With DJ James and Jamal Hill suspended indefinitely and their timetable for return uncertain, it is feasible that Bassa can fill in as a second-string defensive back, especially because he arrived early in January. He said that enrolling early gave him a head start on adjusting to the aggressively different college game.
"I feel like that's helped me a lot because coming in, learning the playbook, going through the fourth-quarter program, and just getting along with the coaches and getting used to the college environment has really helped me a lot," Bassa said. "Now I can go through fall camp comfortably and play just like how I want to and know the playbook."
That level of comfort didn't sprout immediately for Bassa, as he said the speed of the game and playing against elite talent every day was tough for him out of the gate. He also mentioned the language of the game being much different at the college level.
"The knowledge of the game has been the biggest adjustment," Bassa told reporters in fall camp. "Coach Yates has taught me a lot in the back end. In high school, I kind of played that nickel spot, but I really didn't know the back end like he has taught me."
Bassa is getting better each day and could find himself making an immediate impact for the Ducks early in the season, something he's been thinking about during fall camp.
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"Just make an impact on the team really," he said of his goals this season. "Just come in here, learning from all the guys in the safety room and from Coach Yates, and being on special teams and doing what I can do to help out the team."
The safety unit, despite not having Hill in fall camp, has a lot of veteran talent in Verone McKinley III, Jordan Happle, Bennett Williams and Steve Stephens IV, as well as young guns in Bassa, Daymon David, and JJ Greenfield. Bassa has high praise for the group entering this season.
"We're really explosive," he said of the Ducks' safeties. "We got some noise to make this year. It's gonna be a special year."
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