Sunday night the Ducks solidified their recruiting class with their 17th commitment, Jimmie Swain, a 6-3, 230-lb. linebacker from Olathe North High School in Olathe, Kansas.
Swain announced on Fox Sports 1 during the second quarter of the Semper Fi Bowl held at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California. He'd committed to Oregon coaches a few weeks ago, but delayed the public announcement because his brother is a Marine. The All-Star game had a special meaning for him, a moment he wanted to share with his family.
In his nationally televised announcement he gave credit to his mother for influencing his decision, saying she had connected with the Oregon coaches during a home visit on December 12th, when Mark Helfrich and the entire defensive staff came to their home in Olathe (wholehogsports.com photo).
The consensus 4-star All-American told the national TV audience, "It has been a great process for me. I have had a really good family and everybody helping me out. For the next four years I will be playing at the University of Oregon."
Asked what the deciding factor in his decision was, he said, "Seeing how all the coaches interacted with my mom. She likes to think that she is not a big influence on my recruiting but she really was one of the reasons I decided to go to Oregon."
Her pride was evident as she stood next him. The talented Kansas product is a 3.2 student with offers from Michigan State, Texas A&M, Stanford, Nebraska and Missouri as well as a dozen other schools. He intends to major in business, and the Jaqua School was a major drawing card. Rivals rates him the #24 linebacker in the country.
Swain has five brothers and sisters, all older. In an interview with Andrew Lynch of Kansas City's Fox 4 Blue Chips Report, High school coach Gene Weir said., "He's a big, fast kid with a really good change of direction, and he's what colleges look for." He praised Swain's work ethic and character, character that's evident in the way the young star faces the camera, speaking thoughtfully and respectfully. His answers at the Semper Fi Bowl were peppered with "Yes Sir" and "No sir," alert, smart, serious about football and his decision.
The Ducks not only added a physical linebacker with size and exceptional mobility, they added another leader, a smart athlete who gets it and plays the game the right way. Joining Danny Mattingly, Derrick Malone, Terrodney Prevot, Terrell Robinson and Rodney Hardrick in the linebacker corps, he'll anchor the defense, make it stronger against the run and much more physical. Assertive and aggressive, he may study business, but he'll have a core emphasis in tackles for loss.
In his highlight film, Swain stands out as a physical, aggressive linebacker who's seriously underrated by the services and a great fit for Oregon's emphasis on athleticism and speed. He runs a 4.51 40 and squats 405, with an explosive 37" vertical leap. He displays exceptional desire, range, and the ability to finish plays.
Junior highlights from HUDL recruiting video.
:09 Opponent 1st and 10 own 26
Stretch play left with two pulling, Swain at MIKE linebacker with left guard and left tackle pulling. He knifes in unblocked and tackles the tailback for an 8-yard loss, taking out both his legs, swarming him in the open field, The play has no chance; he's simply too strong, too quick and too aggressive. Big-time play. Intimidating and decisive
:16 Opponent in red zone, I Formation, left hash
Swain at SAM. A stretch play right to his side. The left guard pulls and delivers one weak blow which he quickly sheds, unmoved. The guard just bounces off him as Swain gets four yards deep into the backfield and destroys the play, wrapping the tailback high and throwing him to the ground.
Presses his physical advantage. Runs extremely well and under control. Has the arms and upper body strength of a college junior, a man among boys. Reminds me of Julius in "Remember the Titans" or a young Spencer Paysinger. Plays smart like Spencer or Michael Clay, physical like Wesley Mallard or Blair Phillips.
The Oregon defense just got its mojo back. In 2013, Oregon's top four inside linebackers combined for 10.5 tackles for loss, Malone 2.5, Hardrick 3.0, Walker 3.0, Cassell 2.0. In 2012, Clay and Kiko Alonso had 24 by themselves. Adding size, athletic ability and aggressiveness to the corps should improve those numbers, and especially defense against the inside running game.
:25 Opponent on own 41, I Formation, left hash
Swain at left inside linebacker in a 3-4. Fake to the fullback left, two pulling on a power play to the right side, but Swain knifes inside the blocking and blows up the tailback three yards deep. He's the kind of player who makes the opposing coach throw his hat on the ground and stomp on it. "Why can't we block that #$%! guy." Diagnoses the play quickly and commits, getting inside the design of it before it develops. His first move is the right move, and once he gets there, delivers the blow with relish and mustard. Really runs, moves and hits. Plays hungry.
:35 On offense this time, 2nd and goal from the 5, left hash, spread formation with an empty backfield.
Swain lined up at wide receiver, takes a tunnel screen and breaks two tackles for the touchdown. Helps to have linebacker who move this well in space and are used to handling the ball. Hardrick, a former tight end and fullback, made a couple of big plays in special teams this season for the Ducks, a 68-yard blocked field goal return and 67-yard rumble with a fake punt.
Here, Swain is comfortable handling the ball and playing out wide. His coaches have a lot of confidence in him. Imagine a 230-lb. linebacker who can play wide receiver. His footwork on the route is smooth and well-practiced, drive two steps off the ball, plant and drive inside. Takes the ball with his hands, tucks it away and runs through contact. Showcases his athletic ability, strength and balance. Never hurts to have linebackers who can turn the football around and make a big play with a turnover. The experience also helps him in understanding what offenses are trying to do and anticipating plays, something he does very well.
:44 Opponent on own 30. Left hash in the I formation
Swain is at SAM and the play is an off tackle run away from him with the fullback lead blocking. He zooms in quickly to the C gap, and as the runner tries to cut it back with the line zone blocking, Swain pops in at the line of scrimmage. Processes the flow of a play really quickly, decisive with his reads, reactions and gets in there. The right gap. Decisive, assertive, physical. Tough to block because he moves so well and gets moving so fluidly, making fast, smart decisions. Throws runners backward. My, how the Ducks need that. An inspiring player, a leader.
:51 Opponent on own 31. Left hash, slot right, Pistol Formation
Swain's Lees Summit Tigers have 8 in the box against the spread look, a 5-3 with 3 down linemen, two outside linebackers up close, and three inside, all within five yards of the ball. They're daring the opponent to throw. Instead it's an unimaginative running play, an inside zone read, but Swain knifes in and blows it up, unblocked, knowing right where to go.
:59 Opponent 1st and goal at the 3. I formation, opponent with wide splits at the line
Swain is at inside linebacker, and it's a quick give inside to the fullback. No one blocks #8. They're trying to influence him outside with the threat of the speed option and pitch, but it's useless: Swain hones in on the ball carrier and destroys him. Makes excellent decisions in real time and breaks up plays, smart like Michael Clay but bigger. 1-yard loss at the goal line where yards are precious. Will be part of a defense that asserts its will on the field, part of the solution to "the Stanford Problem."
1:10 Very next play. Offset I left from the 4. Wide splits on the offensive line
Quick outside run to the short side with the fullback lead blocking. Zone blocking on the front. The tackle is supposed to double team inside and then slide off onto Swain but he's just too quick for that, quickly by the OT and into the backfield from ILB. He gets up inside the play and flys to the football, chasing the smaller man down with a flying tackle at the three. Tremendous desire and instincts.
1:21 Spread formation slot left, Opponent on Lees Summit 42
Swain at SAM. It's a pass play with the quarterback rolling left, running from pressure. Swain runs him down from the far side of the field at the line of scrimmage. Incredible range. Sniffs out what's happening on the fly and reacts. Takes a very good angle to the ball carrier. Sure tackler who delivers a blow with his shoulders, both arms and legs. Drives through a ball carrier and gives them something to remember, the kind of player who wears opponents down.
1:30 Spread formation slot left, Opponent near midfield
High snap. Fake inside zone read and the quarterback rolls left. Looks maybe like the end zone view of the previous play, or one just like it. It shows Swain has good discipline, first checking his primary responsibility on the outside, then flowing to the ball.
1:48 Spread formation, Opponent pinned deep at their own end
Swain at inside right linebacker. Starts out low and crouch, balanced, ready to spring. Great reflexes. Outside zone read away from him. Sheds a block and pursues to the opposite hash, swallows the ball carrier. Very productive and purposeful. Plays with an edge, defending sideline-to-sideline. Exceptional agility and elite size, a physical prescence who asserts himself with intelligence.