After spending the last few seasons behind long-time starter Avery Patterson, redshirt senior Erick Dargan is getting his opportunity to step into the starting lineup at free safety for the Oregon Ducks. This offseason, he’s taken his promotion extremely seriously and put in an abundance of time in the defensive playbook. After a strong spring, Dargan looks ready to step up and lead the Oregon secondary in 2014.
Last season, Dargan appeared in 11 games as a reserve and recorded 24 tackles with an interception and four passes defended. He ran into some trouble and served a two-game suspension at the end of the 2013 season which he says helped refocus him on football. That focus was on display during the spring as he received rave reviews from both coaches and teammates as he infused a heightened sense of energy into the secondary group.
All-American candidate Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is likely to get most of the attention for the Oregon defensive backs but Dargan could be the one that is most key to the unit’s success. As he grows into his leadership role this fall, Dargan will be the last line of defense at his safety spot while also being responsible for getting the rest of the defense into the proper alignment. The Ducks’ defense will only go so far as Dargan leads them.
With the amount of star power returning to Eugene in 2014, it’s interesting to think that the biggest difference-maker for Oregon this fall could be someone making their debut in the starting lineup. But that’s the situation for Dargan and the Ducks where the senior looks to make a lasting impression with his first and only season at safety.