Oregon's 2022 class currently sits at No. 21 in the nation and No. 2 in the Pac-12, behind USC. Recruits are announcing scheduled official visits while we await an official announcement from the NCAA regarding the recruiting dead period currently in place until the end of May.
The Ducks got some good news this week when 4-star Montgomery (Ala.) linebacker TJ Dudley announced he'll take one of his five official visits to Eugene on June 4.
Dudley is ranked the No. 15 OLB in 2022 according to the 247Sports Composite and is a top-ten prospect in the state. He holds more than 25 offers, but has narrowed his list of suitors to Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, LSU, and Oregon.
He was recently in action at the Under Armour All-America Game camp in Atlanta.
"I had a great time. I feel like I performed good," Dudley said. "It was a good experience. Felt good to be out there against top recruits in the nation."
As for his recruitment, the Ducks have kept in constant contact with the linebacker.
"I talk to Coach Wilson almost every day," he said. "He's gonna keep it real with you. When we talk sometimes it's about life in general, how I am mentally. You can tell he's a well-rounded person."
Wilson may be his main recruiter, but he hears from the entire staff, including Head Coach Mario Cristobal and new Defensive Coordinator Tim DeRuyter. What's standing out the most about Oregon for the 4-star?
"The coaching staff. I love the coaching staff. They all show a lot of energy about me," he said. "Their communication. It's (Oregon) always been a dream, as a kid I grew up an Oregon fan."
Historic programs dominate his top group of schools, but something in particular makes Oregon different.
"I like their defense. I could see myself playing in their defense," Dudley said. "I could blitz out there and I could cover, do a little bit of everything."
The official visit to Eugene is the only trip he has scheduled, though the rest of his officials will likely come from his top 6. He'll have his eyes on a few specific areas when he touches down in the Pacific Northwest.
"I'm looking forward to seeing the campus and meeting all the coaches in person."
Dudley, who was able to play his junior season in the fall, told me he has an ideal time frame for making his college decision.
"Hopefully I can get it out of the way before football season begins. Hopefully it gets clearer after officials visits."
Evaluation from John Garcia (SI All-American)
There is positional versatility, athleticism and length at play, something that projects to the linebacker position independent of base schematics. Dudley is in the 6'3", 220-pound range and lines up at all three levels, with clear impact at each, for Montgomery (Ala.) Catholic High School.
The classic linebacker asks are still relevant in the modern game and Dudley checks the box when it comes to attacking the ball carrier in downhill fashion with some finishing power. Where it fits the 2021 game is how efficient he is at attacking from depth and/or space, playing outside in along with his navigation skill to avoid bigger blockers in time to make a play. The other easy-to-see translation to today's east-west nature of spread football, is how comfortable Dudley is running from sideline to sideline. Sure, him playing safety at times shows just how athletic he is in general, but the instincts to get on his horse in short order project him as a true off-ball prospect to combat the passing extensions of the run game like bubble screens, hitches and even the R-P-O game.
Against the pass, Dudley has some coverage skill in his tool box. We just got a fresh look at this at the Under Armour All-America Game camp in Atlanta on Sunday, where he was among the best coverage 'backers in what was a loaded group of Power 5 prospects. There is considerable room for improvement in the technique department, but the natural ability to re-route or run with a back is present at this stage. Should the spacial awareness and frame, which can carry more weight, improve going forward then it isn't a stretch to envision the Alabama native aiding the pass defense in the pass rush game, too.
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