Oregon Football: What You Need to Know About Ducks' Top Seniors in 2012
Oregon's senior class of 2012 is shaping up to be the most heralded in school history. Officially beginning their team play in 2009, this Oregon squad has been to two Rose Bowls and the BCS National Championship.
Though they only have one BCS victory to their names, these seniors have also won three straight Pac-12 Championships and are looking forward to a fourth in 2012.
While there are many talented players on both offense and defense that have been integral to the program throughout their careers, the players on this list have stood out among the rest during their time as a Duck.
With 2012 as the last opportunity to settle any unfinished business, these Ducks are priming themselves for what is sure to be another special season at the University of Oregon.
Dion Jordan: Defensive End
I have said it before and I will keep saying it: Dion Jordan is a beast of a man.
He is one of the more intimidating players on the Ducks defense, standing at 6'7", and will blow past offensive linemen en route to disrupting the opposing team's backfield.
Entering his final season with the Ducks, Jordan will not only be a big playmaker on the field but will be huge in the way he mentors and educates the younger players (such as Tony Washington) behind him.
Expect this big man to put up stellar numbers on a defensive line that should be one of the best in Oregon history.
Kiko Alonso: Linebacker
Alonso had a breakout performance in last years' Rose Bowl Game that featured the Oregon Ducks and Wisconsin Badgers.
Earning defensive MVP honors, Alonso has overcome off-field issues over the years and looks to be both a better player and man.
Along with Michael Clay, Alonso will be featured in a linebacking corps that packs a punch.
He is a deceptive linebacker—Alonso may not be the biggest guy on the field, but he can surely pack a punch and is great when he drops back into coverage.
Michael Clay: Linebacker
Michael Clay is yet another senior player for the Ducks on the defensive side of the ball who will be crucial in just how good Oregon's defense will be this year.
Clay is a ball-hawk and an intimidating presence when he comes up to stuff the line. Though his coverage play needs to be worked on, his ability to flock to the ball has been well-documented through his career at Oregon.
Clay's senior presence also stretches past his play on the field. He has become one of the defensive leaders and is helping to ensure newer and younger players alike have an understanding of the Oregon system.
John Boyett: Safety
What more could Oregon ask of John Boyett as his time as a Duck comes to a close?
He is yet another standout presence at safety for the Ducks and has greatly contributed to their proliferating success in recent years.
Boyett is great in just about every aspect of his game. He is speedy in his coverage ability, an excellent defender in coverage in general and can lay down the hard hit when needed.
Boyett has demonstrated many skills throughout his career as a Duck and will be integral in the outcome of this 2012 season for them.
Ryan Clanton: Offensive Line
Clanton is one of those offensive linemen that will be integral in forwarding the momentum from past Oregon rushing attacks.
He is great in his downfield blocking and will be relied upon even more this year to provide pass support as well. Expect Clanton to be a part of a cohesive line unit that should, as I said before, provide for yet another prolific Oregon Ducks offense.
Nick Cody: Offensive Line
Nick Cody is one of those relatively unheralded players that is shaping up to be one of the more important parts of the Oregon Ducks offense this year.
Cody, who has seen his playing time increase substantially, is another one of those Oregon blockers who is excellent at moving past his blocks up front and accelerating down the field to further assist his team.
Expect to see him be a big player on the Oregon offensive line this season and for his production to continue to rise.
Carson York: Offensive Line
York, despite his injury in Oregon's Rose Bowl victory, looks to be in good shape and ready to keep anchoring the Oregon offensive line.
He is Oregon's most versatile and vocal leader on the line and is where Oregon's offense starts on every play. His importance has been insurmountable in terms of delivering the ball, protecting the quarterback and forwarding the run.
Kenjon Barner: Running Back
Now that LaMichael James is off with the San Francisco 49ers, it is time for Kenjon Barner to shine.
Though he could have gone on to the NFL along with James, Barner chose to play at Oregon for one more year—a decision that helps himself and his team.
Over his three years as a running back at Oregon, Barner has always flashed greatness. He shows great top speed and cutback ability while also being reliable to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Barner is a versatile running back that is ready to continue the long line of great Oregon running backs and assist his team towards what could be a very special season for the Ducks.
Jackson Rice: Punter
Jackson Rice was one of the premier punters coming into college football and continued to be so during his time with the Oregon Ducks.
He was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award last season and looks to contend for the trophy once again this year.
While he is mainly a punter, don't be surprised if you see Jackson rice streaking down the field en route to tackles as he has demonstrated a physicality that few punters possess.
A talented and exciting player to watch, Rice will definitely be missed once his senior season comes to an end.