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The Sports Daily > Duck Stops Here
Yes He Can! If Ken Ekanem comes West, Ducks might have their most intimidating defensive end ever

Ken Ekanem

Clifton (Va.) Centreville High

Ht: 6’4″ Wt: 245 lbs 40: 4.75 secs

Shuttle: 4.4

Vertical: 30 inches

Class: 2012 (High School)

2010 Stats: 75 tackles, 17 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and 18 quarterback hurries.  Team Record 9-3

Oregon has had some wonderful defensive ends.  They’ve had guys with relentless motors, had overachievers and fierce effort guys, guys who’ve made the most of their physical ability and played with great heart.  Duck fans loved Nick Reed, Kenny Rowe and Will Tukuafu.  They remember Devan Long and Ernest Jones, the all-time Oregon sack leader until Reed bested him by half a sack.

But Oregon has never had the disruptive, game-changing intimidating defensive end that makes opposing coaches shred half their game plan.  The guy who spends an entire afternoon in the rival’s backfield, blowing up plays, running through and around blocks, making offensive tackles look fat and flat-footed, destroying and devouring and harrassing quarterbacks, wrecking the passing game with relentless ferocity.  Creating fear with a nasty brand of physicality, dominating a game one snap at a time.

When a great defensive end is having a great day, the opponent simply doesn’t have an answer.  He can destroy the rhythm of an entire offense, and have the five-star tailback slamming the ball into the turf in frustration.  Three and out.  Get used to it.  He might even block a punt before the day is over.

He’ll get a little blood on his jersey.  They can’t block him, can’t double team him, can’t even hold him.  He gets by too quickly and it looks too obvious, his jersey half off his shoulder pads as he’s still in the quarterback’s face.  It’s a thing of beauty, this ugly, nasty attitude of a warrior, like a remake of “300” and “Gladiator” without the need for special effects.

Ken Ekanem could be the next great Oregon defensive end, if they can land him.  They cooled on Jeremy Castro, partly out of hope that Ek would come out West and put on an Oregon hat.  He’s making an official visit this fall, and signing him would be a perfect fit for the fast, pressuring defense the Ducks like to play.  He’s the bullet, the missle, the red arrow pointed at the quarterback’s grill.

Already he has 18 offers, including Boston College, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Oregon, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Notre Dame.  He’s a serious, year-round football player, telling Irish Sports Daily, “We don’t get to have spring ball here in Virginia, so I’ve just been working with a trainer,” said the Centreville star. “He has me working hard four times a week and even though it gets rough sometimes, I know it’s going to be worth it in the end. It prepares me physically and also mentally.”  He plays in outside linebacker/defensive end in 3-4 defense in high school, and prefers that position for his college career. 

He plans to take all five of his visits, and Notre Dame and Oregon are two of his fall destinations. Both Rivals and Scout rate him a four-star prospect, and Ekanem is the No. 185 prospect on the Rivals250.  His national stock is rising though, after the recent offers from the Irish and the Ducks.

His high school coach Chris Haddock is overseeing his recruiting.  He told Keith Loria of the Fairfax Times, “The protocol is that they work through me and they certainly make their own football evaluation of the kid. But they use me to find out what kind of work ethic he has, what type of character he has, and most of the coaches in being thorough want to talk to me about him and his family so they can get a good picture of the kid so they know how to recruit him. I don’t think Ken was distracted one bit. To his credit, I think he has been very level-headed and taken it all in stride.”

But this is the money quote as far as Oregon fans are concerned: “I look for a school with good academics; a school that has a good business program and sports marketing,” he said. “I look for good coaches, ones I can relate to. A good class of 2012. I want to go in with guys that are good talent-wise and social-wise.” Sound like the Ducks would be a perfect fit.

The machinations of recruiting are one thing, but Ekanem has a tremendous future on the field.  His recruiting video is a Jerry Azzinaro dream vacation:

 

A few notes:

Penetrator, intimidator, run stuffer. Sheds blocks, refuses to be denied. plays with tremendous desire. Quick laterally slides down the line. Speed rush– can’t hold him out of the pocket.  A little lumbering to be an Oregon tight end, but impressed by the agility and toughness catching the football, especially over the middle.  Not elusive but a very reliable target.

A hitter, manhandles ball carriers. Collapses the line of scrimmage. drives off the line.  Can’t hold him. relentless motor. hurries and pressures plays, changes what the offense is trying to do. Stronger than his opponent, works off blocks very well.  Sometimes he just outquicks a block, beats the offensive lineman off the ball before he can get out his stance, a terrific speed rusher. Doesn’t give ground, very tough against the run, especially for a pass rushing end.

Like him better playing with his hand down; if he’s 6-4 245 now he’ll be a strong, solid defensive end, but the 4.83 40 isn’t enough acceleration for linebacker ( a couple of sites have him at 4.65).  But he’s quick, covers the first ten yards faster than anybody on the field. Devours plays, and doesn’t miss the quarterback.  Just runs right through blocks.  Pursues down the line really well and finds the ball.  Very persistent; won’t give up on a play. Overpowers his man and blows up plays.