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TJ Dudley Discusses Decision to De-commit From Oregon, What's Next in Recruitment

Can the Ducks get back into the picture with one of the country's top linebackers?

In the span of two days, Oregon has seen multiple de-commitments on the recruiting trail following Mario Cristobal's departure to Miami. Two of them have come from the state of Alabama, including 2022 linebacker TJ Dudley.

SI All-American caught up with the elite prep following practice for the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star game on Tuesday.

Unlike some who were caught off guard by Cristobal's decision to leave, Dudley wasn't all too surprised.

"I kind of felt it in the air, like the commits we had in the group chat were talking about it," Dudley said. "So I kind of figured he was gonna leave especially with his family being down there. So it was a decision that I gotta respect out of him he's great guy, so it's nothing but love for him."

He offered some more detail on what went into his decision to back off his commitment.

"Because honestly, one, there's no telling who the head coach might be for Oregon, also just looking at different schools just in case the head coach doesn't add up with how I play or things like that," he said.

With Oregon entering a search for its new head coach, the linebacker says he's still interested in the program.

"Yes, depending on if some people stay or they get rid of them and the new staff that comes in tries to build a relationship with me."

Following the news breaking that he was back on the market, it took less than 10 minutes for him to get a call from a different coaching staff, starting with Clemson assistant coach Todd Bates.

The Tigers weren't the only school to reach out and express interest. Some schools are working on assemblin a strong group of visitors with the last weekend before the signing period looming.

"Some of them were trying to see when I wanted to sign and then others were trying to get me out on a visit this weekend," Dudley said.

An official visit this weekend could be a bit tricky with the linebacker set to play in the aforementioned all-star game, but another trip could still be a possibility, as he has two official visits left on the table. 

There's no shortage of schools in contention to receive those two remaining official visits, and all of them are schools he's talked to this week. 

"Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida and Tennessee," he said.

With Dudley resetting his recruitment, an early signing isn't likely.

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"Unless something drastically changes, no."

However he didn't completely rule out signing early. With prospects de-committing left and right and the transfer portal overflowing with names, he said "a roster spot opening up and things of that nature" would be the only thing that could make a decision come sooner.

Texas is another school in the running that he's heard from since de-committing this week. The Longhorns got a visit from Dudley over the summer and have established strong relationships with the Montgomery Catholic star, who's heard from multiple staffers recently. 

"Coach Sarkisian, Coach Choate the linebackers coach, Blake Gideon the safeties coach, a bunch of them," he said. "I had a big relationship with them before I committed."

While another decision doesn't appear to becoming in the near future, Dudley already has schools in mind that could get his last two official visits.

"If I had to guess, Florida is definitely one and then the second one could go either way with Tennessee, Auburn or Alabama."

Florida recently hired new head coach Billy Napier, and who is one of the main reasons he's interested in the Gators.

"Coach Napier honestly," Dudley said. "I knew Coach Napier, he had visited my school my sophomore year when he was at Louisiana, so just rekindling that connection with him is probably one of the biggest things."

Now that he's going through the process a second time, he knows what's going to be most important for him this time around. 

"Somewhere where, of course, it's more than just the coaching staff for me, like I fall in love with the actual school. So if this has happened again, where the coach leaves or the whole coaching staff leaves I'll still be committed to the school regardless."

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