Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou four-star defensive end DeForest Buckner talks about his trip to Oregon…
Oregon Leaves Buckner "Mind-blown"
"The overall experience was great. Going on the University of Oregon visit, it really wasn't what I expected. You watch the guys play on the weekends and stuff like that on TV and most people don't get to see the players' life -- like the practice. You just see what they do on game day. I really liked that I got to see the players' life and how they did things; how they got up in the morning to eat breakfast, how they get ready for practice and go to the meetings before practice. I got to see the speed of practice and it was amazing watching them practice. The first day, they took us around and I got to see the football facilities and it was pretty amazing because it was a lot of things that I've never seen before. All of the facilities are nice and stuff, but it's nice to see that the guys who are using them are taking advantage of them. They're not just like, ‘Oh, we have all this nice stuff.' They work hard and they take advantage of all the things that they have to get better and to become a better football player and to prevent from having injuries. That's what I liked about it. A lot of the things that they do, they do it to prevent injury and they're all really committed to watching what they eat so that they can become bigger and they base all their workouts off the nutrition they get at the end. The next day, they showed us the academic center for student athletes only. It was nice because it showed how much they care about academics. They said you can get a different tutor for every class you're taking, so you have a lot of academic support and they make sure you get to your tutors on time. That was one of the big things I'm looking for in a college."
Was there one thing about the visit in particular though that really surprised you or was most memorable?
"One of the things that blew me away was observing and watching the way the other players acted towards each other. It's amazing how family oriented the team was. When we went to eat dinner with them and lunch and breakfast with them, there was no cliques. It wasn't, the California people sit over here, the white people sit over here, the Polynesians sit in one place. It was really mixed together. Everybody was talking to each other and it seemed like everyone was comfortable around each other. I really liked that and I felt like a part of the team because they felt really welcoming. I don't know how to explain it. It's just amazing just watching them."
Who was your host for the visit?
"Koa Ka'ai...I knew him (as a fellow Hawaiian), but I didn't personally know him. I played against him. Koa was cool. He introduced me to a lot of people and he hangs out with a lot of different people too, not just the Hawaii guys. Like, him and Marcus (Mariota) and the Hawaii guys all stick together, but they also fan out and have other friends too. All the Hawaii guys look out for each other and they're all friends, even though we're all from different schools...they all stick together. When I went up there, it seemed like they all went to the same school, so that was pretty cool."
What was it like to be able to spend some quality one-on-one time with the coaches for the first time?
"It was cool. I'm glad I got the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with coach (Chip) Kelly and coach (Jerry Azzinaro) ‘Azz'. They were asking me what I liked about the University of Oregon and how I was feeling about it. I told them that all the things I was looking for in a college were right here where I was and that I was just mind-blown. They were both really cool. Coach Azz was straight up and said that if I don't come, then Oregon will be fine without me, but if I came, then Oregon would be a lot better with me. Coach Azz was just straight up and I love the way he coaches because he pushes his players to greatness. When you get to that point where you can't go any further, he will take you somewhere that you never thought you'd be able to reach. I could see that in how he coached and that he really cares about his players. All the players respect him, too. I asked multiple d-linemen, like Koa and Wade (Keliikipi), what they thought about coach Azz and they all said, ‘Yeah, Coach Azz is a hard ass, but he pushes you to places where you never saw yourself going.' That's what they really like about him and that's what most of the players said about him. The guys who didn't play and the guys who played, they both had positive things to say about coach."
Did you get a chance to interact with any of the other official visitors on the trip?
"Oh yeah. Jake Rodrigues, he committed to Oregon and he's a quarterback. I met him (originally) over at The Opening in the summer in Oregon. He was cool. He's a straight up, open guy. I also met Kyle Long, Howie Long's son. He's coming from a JC in California. I rode the plane back to San Francisco with him. He's a cool guy and he's a positive guy. (I also met) T.J. Daniel, he committed like three months ago to Oregon as a d-lineman. Me and him are like the same size; we're both tall. He's like 6'7'', 230 lbs. and I'm like 6'7'', 250 lbs. and we were hanging out for most of the trip with each other. There was also this other guy, this quarterback named Jeff (Lockie). He's a pretty funny dude. All of the recruits were pretty cool."
Did anyone accompany you from home on your visit?
"No. It was just me on my visit."
Did you feel an urge to commit on the visit or was there any pressure from the coaching staff for you to commit?
"There was no pressure from the players. They asked me how I felt and I told them I really liked Oregon and they said that there was no pressure and if you liked somewhere and they have everything, then you might as well go there and not spend all the extra time and deal with the pressure and heartache and all this other stuff when you can commit to a college that already has all the things you're looking for. The coaches also didn't put any pressure on me to try and commit and all that. That's what I really like."
What's your timetable now moving forward?
"I have (a visit to) Cal next week, I have UCLA on January 13, Utah on January 20 and Colorado on January 27."
And you're planning on taking all five of your official visits?
"As of right now, yes I am."
DeForest Buckner profile
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