Publish date:

Oregon's top ten Defensive Targets in 2022

The Ducks are working to fill needs throughout the defense heading into summer.

In my last article, I wrote about Oregon’s top targets on the offensive side of the ball. This time the focus is on the defense.

The finish line for the Ducks on the defensive side is a bit less clear. Oregon has secured four defensive commitments in the 2022 class so far, but there are still potential takes and notable targets at almost every position.

4-star DE Cyrus Moss (Las Vegas, NV)

As a top 50 player, Moss is arguably the Ducks' biggest target heading into June. With Kayvon Thibodeaux likely leaving after this season for the 2022 NFL Draft, Moss is a possible successor as an elite pass rusher. Moss released a top five of Oregon, Arizona State, Clemson, Florida and Notre Dame and will be taking his official visit to Oregon this weekend. 

This is a major opportunity for Oregon to replace its most significant departure heading into the fall of 2022.

4-star DE Enai White (Philadelphia, PA)

White is another elite prospect who could make an immediate impact on the edge. Oregon made the cut for his top eight last month and he is planning to take an unofficial to Eugene. 

However, with White being from Philadelphia, Oregon will need to overcome distance in order to win this recruitment. That likely requires a big impression when White steps on campus, something Mario Cristobal is more than capable of.

Last cycle Oregon showed the ability to land blue-chip prospects from the Northeast with the additions of Dont’e Thornton and Daymon David out of Maryland.

3-star DT Sir Mells (Henderson, NV)

Joe Salave’a has made a habit of turning big bodied 3-star prospects into productive pieces along the defensive line during his time at Oregon. Mells is a player who fits that mold. The west coast struggles to produce the body type Mells has at 6-foot 5, 327 pounds. 

That’s why he’s garnered offers from 10 Pac-12 schools already. The Ducks will host Mells this weekend following a trip to UNLV, and it will be an opportunity to take command of a major recruitment within the conference.

3-star DE Andrew Savaiinaea (The Dalles, OR)

2022 is a talented class in the state of Oregon relative to most years. The Ducks have already picked up two in-state commitments with Trejon Williams and Emar’rion Winston

Savaiinaea was another prospect talented enough to pick up an Oregon offer. At 6-foot 4, 260 pounds he has the size necessary to compete at the power five level. Plus, picking up this commitment within the Ducks’ home state will allow the staff extra time to focus recruiting efforts outside of the state.

*WATCH MORE ANDREW SAVAIINAEA HIGHLIGHTS HERE*

4-star LB Niuafe Tuihalamaka (Mission Hills, CA)

Tuihalamaka is one of the best linebackers in the country. Coming from just outside of L.A., Oregon fans will be reminded of recruitments past of elite linebackers like Mase Funa (Mater Dei) and Justin Flowe (Upland). 

A commitment from Tuihalamaka would be an emphatic statement that the “CaliFlock” pipeline is here to stay. Oregon is in his top five, along with Arizona State, Notre Dame, Stanford and Texas. He is also high school teammates with 4-star Oregon cornerback target Ephesians Prysock, who has the Ducks in his top 10.

Read more: Oregon Football 2022 recruiting hot board

*WATCH JUNIOR HIGHLIGHTS HERE*

4-star LB Travious Lathan (Miami, FL)

Lathan is a blue chip prospect with a ton of physical gifts (6'2", 205 lbs). He would bolster one of the Ducks’ deepest and most talented position groups in recent recruiting cycles. 

His addition would continue to create separation between Oregon and the rest of the conference. Additionally, Lathan has a geographic benefit in terms of the Ducks' effort to continue building their footprint in the state of Florida.

He recently spent time with the hometown Hurricanes at their first recruiting event of the summer.

RECOMMENDED ARTICLES

anthony-brown-johnny-johnson-iii-vs-ucla
Play

Oregon Coaches Evaluate Offensive Performance in Win Over UCLA

Mario Cristobal and Joe Moorhead discussed the progress that the Ducks have made on offense

alex-forsyth-vs-ucla
Play

Alex Forsyth Day-to-Day After Missing Third Straight Game

Cristobal has said he's hopeful but "wouldn't count on" Forsyth's availability this week

Travis Dye UCLA Goal Line
Play

PODCAST: Breaking Down Oregon's Win Over UCLA

The Ducks pass a huge test on the road as the we shift into the second half of the season

3-star ATH Anthony Jones (Henderson, NV)

With the talent Oregon has amassed at linebacker in recent cycles, Jones could be a suitable option to take a more developmental path. While he likely wouldn’t start as a freshman, it seems the staff is confident enough that they can mold his 6-foot-5 frame into a productive player down the road. 

We could see a potential pairing with Jones’ teammate Sir Mells, after both were previously committed to Washington for a short time. A pair of flips would no doubt add some extra fire to an already heated rivalry between the Ducks and Huskies.

Read more: Does Oregon lead for former Washington commit Anthony Jones?

4-star CB Zeke Berry (Concord, CA)

Berry is one of the Ducks' most intriguing options at cornerback this cycle. Playing at storied powerhouse De la Salle, he brings an impressive level of physicality, but still has the athleticism to hold up in coverage. 

The Ducks are expected to lose All-Pac-12 cornerback Mykael Wright to the NFL Draft following this season, and Berry would be a solid addition to shore up depth. He has offers from most of the Pac-12 in addition to out of conference suitors like Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and Tennessee. He will take an official visit to Pittsburgh on June 10. 

4-star CB Jalil Tucker (San Diego, CA)

Tucker is a two-way prospect who has proven playmaking ability at both corner and wide receiver. The Ducks are likely recruiting him to play in the secondary. 

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound recruit from Lincoln High School is a potential immediate impact player who could see rotational snaps as soon as he gets on campus. The Ducks have significant history in San Diego with players like Gracen Halton ('22 commit) and former Ducks Tyree Robinson (Lincoln 2013), CJ Verdell (Mater Dei 2017) and Sampson Niu (Madison 2017). 

He's also teammates with the next player on our list.

3-star CB Jahlil Florence (San Diego, CA)

Fans may be initially surprised by Florence’s inclusion on this list given his ranking. However, his offer list tells a different story. Florence has offers from a handful of Pac-12 programs, and picked up offers from Oregon and Michigan in late April. 

That is to say, I would bet we see his ranking rise. The other major factor here is Florence’s relationship with teammate Jalil Tucker and their location in San Diego, a growing pipeline for the Ducks. 

All this culminates in Jahlil Florence being a major target for Oregon as we enter June.

Other Names: 5-star DT Walter Nolan, 3-star DE Jaxson Moi, 4-star DL Sterling Lane, 4-star DL Nyjalik Kelly, 4-star DL Earnest Cooper IV, 4-star LB Shawn Murphy, 5-star LB Harold Perkins, 4-star LB TJ Dudley, 4-star LB Stone Blanton, 4-star LB Jaylen Sneed, 4-star CB Terrance Brooks, 4-star CB Toriano Pride, 4-star CB Jaden Mangham, 4-star S Zion Branch, 4-star S Cristian Driver, 5-star S Keon Sabb

More from Ducks Digest

Blue chip safety Keon Sabb places Oregon in top six

Oregon debuts at No. 16 in SI All-American's initial 2022 team recruiting rankings

Oregon outfielder Haley Cruse signs professional contract


Stay connected with Ducks Digest on Social Media

Follow Reid on Twitter: @mf_reid

Like and follow Ducks Digest on Facebook: @DucksDigest

Follow Ducks Digest on Twitter: @Ducksdigest

Subscribe to Ducks Digest on YouTube: @DucksDigest

Find more Oregon content at Ducksdigest.com