In his three seasons as an Oregon Duck, Bo Lokombo has been a highlight film player, but can he be an every-down stalwart for Nick Aliotti's defense?
Fright night: the Ducks need Bo Lokombo to be a scary sight for opposing quarterbacks in 2013 (Aaron Marineau/Oregon Daily Emerald photo).
Lokombo's always made big plays. He's had some terrific individual games. But playing behind future NFL players like Josh Kaddu, Kiko Alonso, Michael Clay and Dion Jordan, the athletic, talented Bolo has always been a background player for the Ducks, albeit one who shows up in big piles.
The 6-3, 233-lb. outside linebacker caught position coach Don Pellum's attention early as a high school prospect. Pellum and offensive line coach Steve Greatwood attended one of Lokombo's prep basketball games on a scouting trip. He talked about it with Lucas Clark of the Oregon Daily Emerald.
“He took the baseline and two-hand dunked, and I had no idea that he was that athletic, You can see some things on the football field, but when I saw him in person, I was shocked. You could see a very explosive skill set, a very athletic skill set,” Pellum said. “We thought this guy, for what we need at linebacker, fit what we’re looking for."
Always a good eye for talent, the coach's judgment has paid dividends over the last four years. Since redshirting in 2010, Bo's played in 41 straight games as a Duck, scoring four touchdowns in his career with a fumble recovery, picking up a blocked punt and two interceptions for touchdowns, including a 40-yard ramble with a tipped ball off Andrew Luck in the 2011 win over Stanford.
In his three seasons on the traveling squad Lokombo has 36, 33, and 39 tackles. He's recovered 4 fumbles, sacked opposing quarterbacks 4 times, and intercepted two passes, returning both for tds.
In the loss to Stanford last November, playing behind a depleted defensive line in a game in which the Ducks couldn't get anything going, Lokombo had 8 tackles. He had four tackles and a pass breakup in the Civil War, four tackles against Washington State, and three tackles and an interception in a road game against the Sun Devils.
He has his eyes on a lot more. The versatile defender, born in the Congo and emigrated to Abbotsford, British Columbia, has watched Kaddu, Jordan and Alonso move on to NFL millions and wants a piece of that success himself. He told Mike Beamish of the Vancouver Sun, "Maybe my production isn’t as high as a lot of people would want, but I’m a first-round type guy,” Boseko said ” I could be top five, even No. 1. The sky’s the limit.”
“People who recognize my skill say I have the ability to play with the best, and the NFL is the best league,” Lokombo said. “It’s where I want to end up."
Lokombo's already been chosen in the third round by the B.C. Lions in the CFL draft. He was rated the most talented available player by the CFL Scouting Bureau, but fell to the 21st-overall selection not only because he had a year left with the Ducks, but out of consideration for his NFL aspirations.
In winter testing in 2011, the big-play defender was timed in 4.84 in the 40, a solid number in electronic timing, but not eye-popping by NFL standards.
With Clay, Jordan and Alonso gone, the Ducks need him to blossom into a consistent, physical presence at linebacker this season. It can only help him as he pursues his dream in professional football. The difference between a second or third round selection and free agency is two or three million dollars.
Bolo's strengths are agility and anticipation. He reads a quarterback's eyes and the flow of a play very well, with a gift for recognizing and pouncing on an opportunity. A high school fullback and tight end, he has good hands and feet, making him dangerous around the football. He's a physical tackler. His high school coach Denis Kelly of Mouat High in Abbotsford, told Howard Tsumura of theprovince.com, “He puts himself in the right spot because he has incredible anticipation and quickness. If there is any kind of mis-timing or some other opportunity, he is usually one of the first guys to arrive. If there is a bounce or a mis-thrown ball, he is going to be there.”
The exciting thing is, #25 is still maturing as a football player. He grew up playing soccer and basketball and didn't take up the North American game until his brother Boloy convinced him to try out as an 8th grader.
Lokombo's always made great plays. In 2013, the Ducks just need him to make more of them.
Reporting from Oregon practice yesterday, Rob Moseley of goducks.com wrote, "During pass-rush drills, the offensive line held its ground on reps by Everett Benyard, Karrington Armstrong and Jake Pisarcik. But Boseko Lokombo was absolutely unblockable, no matter who he went against."
The Ducks need Bo to be unblockable more often. If he does that, the limit is not even the limit, for him or his defense.
He certainly was born with a linebacker name, including the Bolo nickname. Thanks to his brother 'Boloy,' we might be hearing his name on Sundays.
I can't decide who I'm most excited to watch this year, the offense or the defense. What a great problem to have.
i’m excited to see not only Bo but to see all the new LB’s.
Every few years we sort of freak out that Kaddu/Casey/Alonzo/Clay are gone and how will we ever replace them…then Lo and behold, here comes the new generation of duck LB’s and they more than hold their own.
I do think the athleticism of this years LB’s is some of the best we’ve ever had and i have faith that Pellum has done a great job of coaching them up….not to mention that relative to most D1(Ok, FBS) teams the ducks D plays their 2’s & 3’s a ton, so they’re not really “new guy’s”, they’ve gotten a lot of reps in live action.
He will be the leader of the pack. The rest are really good and will mature during the first 4-5 games. Oregon is not going to have a linebacker problem this year.
Have loved me some BoLo from his recruiting days... And not just because he's a fellow Axeman. The kid can flat-out play. He's going to have a HUGE year this season.
@rgyle Morning Arg. Certainly better than any piece of brotherly advice I ever got.
@duckified For me it's watching Mariota throw the ball, but yeah, they have a lot of dynamic players on every unit.
@DanO NE PDX Good point DanO. Before Clay and Alonso fans were freaking out about replacing Matthews and Paysinger. You're right also about the alhleticism--Prevot, Mattingly, Coleman, Walker, Cassell, Lokombo, Malone and the rest have a lot of it, with time in the program for most of them/
@SonomaDuck I think your forecast is spot on SD. Lokombo will thrive with more playing time. Rob Moseley identified Rahim Cassell as one of his picks to emerge at the linebacker position, a player I haven't talked about much yet.
@goducks58 Another factor in Lokombo's upside is that Nick Aliotti loves to blitz, and his senior linebacker is great coming off the edge. It's another way they can unleash him this season.