EUGENE - Oregon returns three of four starters to the defensive secondary this season. Eddie Pleasant, who played rover in 2010 and 2011, is the only departure. Pleasant is now trying to make the Houston Texans roster.
There's plenty of depth at defensive back and the top contenders for the rover position are junior Avery Patterson and fellow junior Brian Jackson. Patterson was the Ducks' fifth-leading tackler with 55 stops (39 solo) last season. He appeared in all 14 games, starting one at free safety and one at rover.
Jackson played in 12 games last year, recording 27 tackles.
Oregon secondary coach John Neal says the competition for the starting rover spot could carry well into the season.
"We could play three different rovers in a game, in a real game where we need to win," said Neal. "So, it'll be fun watching those guys develop."
No matter how it plays out, Patterson and Jackson are focused on improving enough to earn the job.
"I just look to make the most plays out there," said Patterson. "Whomever makes the most plays is going to win the job. So, I just try to make the most of it out there."
"I want this bad," said Jackson. "It means a lot to me. I love playing the sport of football. As soon as I get out on the field I feel like I am at home. So, I feel like I need it in a way."
Friday will be the Ducks first practice in full pads. Two-a-days begin Saturday.