DJ James and Jamal Hill to ‘compete right away’ for starting jobs on Oregon defense

·2 min read

In his press conference on Monday afternoon, Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal delivered the news that we were all expecting to hear — defensive backs DJ James and Jamal Hill will be available to play this week against Ohio State after serving a suspension earlier in the year.

Ahead of Oregon’s game against Fresno State, Cristobal announced that the two players would be reinstated for practice purposes, but would miss the Ducks’ week 1 game. Now, with the biggest game of the season just days away, it comes as no surprise that two of Oregon’s perceived starters coming into the season will be back on the field and ready to make an impact.

But how much of an impact will they have? After missing the majority of fall camp and not seeing any game action since the 2020 season, it’s a reasonable question to ask.

Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter doesn’t seem to think that the missed time will slow them up very much, however.

“They’ve been with us the last couple of weeks practicing,” DeRuyter said on Monday. “There was a little rust that they had to get knocked out, but they’ve been looking pretty good in practice this week, so they’ll be competing right away for jobs.”

Jamal Hill will be looking to knock off Steve Stephens IV for the boundary safety position, while DJ James will have to jump both Dontae Manning and Trikweze Bridges in the depth chart at the boundary corner position to grab a starting spot.

All three of those players performed well against Fresno State, but the secondary as a whole left a little bit to be desired, giving up 220 yards through the air in the first half before making some adjustments over the final two quarters.

Regardless of who starts, it is encouraging to know that the Ducks will now have some added depth at two of their most important positions on the defense. With a pair of All-American receivers for Ohio State — Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson — Oregon will need all hands on deck to slow them down.

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