Ducks' Patrick Chung packs a punch
You can see it for yourself, on YouTube. Oregon defensive back Matt Harper makes an end-zone interception at Michigan last year, and here...
Seattle Times staff reporter
EUGENE, Ore. — You can see it for yourself, on YouTube.
Oregon defensive back Matt Harper makes an end-zone interception at Michigan last year, and here come several Oregon Ducks, hellbent on interference.
At the Oregon 34, rover Patrick Chung confronts Michigan's 6-foot-5, 313-pound Alex Mitchell, throws a shoulder and drops Mitchell to his duff. Continuing 13 yards downfield, Chung comes upon 6-foot-6, 296-pound Adam Kraus and puts him down, too, without leaving his feet.
Finally, Harper gets tackled, leaving the 6-foot, 210-pound Chung only 9 yards shy of felling the entire Michigan offense.
"I call him the ultimate warrior," says Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti.
You don't have to convince a Web site called www.theloveofsports.com. It found a place for Chung on its list of the eight "baddest" college football players in the country, company that includes linebackers James Laurinaitis of Ohio State and Rey Maualuga of USC.
The site mistakenly attributed one of Chung's Michigan victims on that interception to be Jake Long, last April's No. 1 draft pick in the NFL.
"Long's a big guy; it would have been a lot tougher," Chung said here recently after an Oregon practice.
Still, that's a quarter ton of Wolverines Chung took down, which makes Saturday's confrontation against Washington all the more delicious.
As in: The Ducks are richly endowed at cornerback with Jairus Byrd and Walter Thurmond III, while the Huskies are inexperienced at receiver. You could easily conclude the corners will play one-on-one, leaving Chung to spend a lot of time personally tracking Huskies quarterback Jake Locker.
"However we're going to get that done," Aliotti says, "we've got to make somebody else beat us besides Locker. I don't have much more to say other than: We must stop Locker."
No matter how they go about it, Chung and Locker will meet frequently, renewing an acquaintance they made at Pac-10 media day last month.
"There were smiles here and there, like, 'We're ready for you,' " Chung said, "but there wasn't any trash-talking."
Chung is a precocious player who arrived at Oregon as a 16-year-old. He just turned 21 last week, and pondered a jump last winter to the NFL before deciding to return for his senior year. His mom, Sophia George, was a reggae singer who married her producer, Ronald Chung, who is half-Chinese, half-Jamaican. Patrick Chung was born in Kingston, Jamaica.
After his redshirt season of 2004, his impact on the Ducks was immediate. He started the next year and has since, making first-team all-conference last year.
"All around, he's just a great player," says quarterback Nate Costa. "He has an ability to read body language and be in the right place."
"No disrespect to Taylor Mays," Aliotti says, referencing USC's premier safety, "Mays can do some things that maybe Pat can't, but Pat, I think, can do some things Taylor Mays can't, when it comes to covering space.
"With his athleticism, character, toughness, he's as good a safety as there is on the West Coast."
The Ducks believe their secondary is similarly unparalleled in the West, and maybe beyond.
"I think we can be the best in the nation," says Chung.
They've taken to calling themselves the "D-Boyz," a nickname emblazoned on the protective lower-back flap on their practice uniforms. They have their own private practice rituals, such as spontaneous push-ups.
"We consider ourselves the Marines of the team," Thurmond told the Eugene Register-Guard, "and everybody else is the Army."
Michigan will vouch that Chung deserves a place among a few good men.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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