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6 things to know about the newest Oregon transfer Ja’Maree Caldwell

On Friday night, the Oregon Ducks received news of a marquee transfer, fifth-year defensive lineman Ja’Maree Caldwell, who is headed to Eugene from the Houston Cougars. It was the second transfer commitment the Ducks have received in the last two days; the other was wide receiver Evan Stewart formerly of Texas A&M.

Picking up Caldwell is a massive win for Dan Lanning and Oregon because interior defensive line has been a position of need. At one point, the Ducks were in the running to land Walter Nolen, the No. 1 player in the portal, but he chose Ole Miss over Oregon.

Nolen was the best player in the portal, but Caldwell is an elite pick-up for Oregon. 247Sports ranks Caldwell as a four-star transfer and the No. 2 defensive lineman in the portal, behind only Nolen.

Below, are six things to help you get to know the newest Oregon Duck.

He's an elite run defender

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Caldwell will bring strong run defense to the Ducks defense. In 2023 at Houston, Caldwell had a PFF run defense grade of 82.8. Oregon’s best run defender in 2023 was Taki Taimani, who also had an 82.8 PFF run defense grade. Since the Ducks are losing Brandon Dorlus this offseason, Caldwell’s ability to affect the run game will be tremendous.

He was second-team All-Big 12

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

2023 was Caldwell’s second year in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and it was by far the best season of his career. His 8.5 TFLs (tackles for loss) and 6.5 sacks were some of the highest marks on his team, and they led him to second-team All-Big 12 honors. Ducks’ star DL Brandon Dorlus was first-team All-Pac-12 in 2023. Hopefully, Caldwell can carry the tradition on next year.

He started in junior college

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Before 2022, Caldwell played at both Hutchinson Community College and Independence Community College before transferring to Houston. The Ducks have had success recently with former junior college players such as Khyree Jackson, who was a star of this year’s defense. Perhaps Caldwell will be the next.

He played O-line in high school

Has one year of eligibility remaining

Craig Strobeck-USA TODAY Sports
Craig Strobeck-USA TODAY Sports

Since he played two years of junior college ball and two years with the Cougars, 2024 will be Caldwell’s final season of eligibility (he has a fifth year because of the COVID-19 season). Hopefully, after 2024, the Ducks’ young D-line room will have enough experience to be a strength of the Oregon defense. For 2024, Caldwell’s experience will be extremely important.

He is exactly what Oregon needed

Craig Strobeck-USA TODAY Sports

There was a debate earlier this offseason among fans whether the Ducks needed to add a defensive lineman via the transfer portal. While Oregon was losing Brandon Dorlus, Taki Taimani, Casey Rogers and Popo Auamavae, they had guys coming up such as Ben Roberts, A’Mauri Washington, Johnny Bowens, My’Keil Gardner. Still, it would be valuable for a veteran to come in and lead the way.

That’s exactly what the Ducks got with Caldwell, who will be among the most experienced guys on the defense and could have an all-conference season in Oregon’s scheme.

Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire