Last weekend vs. Utah was senior day for the Oregon Ducks, and nose tackle Popo Aumavae was the only scholarship senior that didn't go through the festivities. With the regular season final against Oregon this week, this begs the question about a potential return in 2023.
During a press conference Monday evening, head coach Dan Lanning indicated that the sixth-year senior lineman, who's missed all of 2022, would likely be able to return next season should his waiver for an extra year of eligibility be granted by the NCAA.
“I know Popo wants to and I know we certainly want him to back. We feel very confident that he is going to be able to do that,” Lanning told reporters.
Earlier in the year Lanning stated that due to Aumavae’s season-ending injury there would be a possibility for him to make it back for next season.
Last season in 2021, the 6-foot-3, 304-pound defensive tackle from Stockton (Calif.), totaled for 36 tackles in 13 games, leading all interior linemen for the Ducks while also earning Pac-12 all-conference first-team honors from both the Associated Press and Pro Football Focus. Getting him back next season in Lanning’s second year as a head coach could help him in the long run with his development.
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Suppose Aumavae is able to get back into a Duck uniform for next season. He'd be a big piece of a powerful defensive front with players like Brandon Dorlus, Sam 'Taki' Taimani, Keyon Hudson-Ware and Treven Ma’ae all eligible to return. The interior linemen combine for 69 tackles and 14 tackles for loss in 2022.
With one last regular season game approaching against Oregon State this week, the defensive line will play a big role in stopping the Beavers' strong run game led by Damien Martinez. Oregon State has the No. 4 rushing offense just behind Utah with 2,122 yards on the season while averaging 192.9 yards a game.
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