GRANTS PASS—Oregon football’s 2018 recruiting class now has a Southern Oregon flare to it.
Grants Pass first-team all-conference linebacker Richie England has flipped his commitment and is now headed to Eugene to play for the Ducks.
England tweeted out his commitment Sunday afternoon and will enter fall camp with Oregon guaranteed a spot on its 105-man roster as a preferred walk on. He will have the chance at earning a football scholarship likely during his junior year.
It was a full-ride academic scholarship called "Pathway Oregon" that initially got the ball rolling for England.
"I get this scholarship from U of O and it's a full ride through tuition so... U of O, dream school, I've always wanted to go there, it's something you really can't pass up," he said.
After the Western Oregon football staff agreed to wave England’s pledge to them, Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt went forward with an offer to the standout linebacker.
"It definitely was in the beginning a tougher conversation," England said of the exchange with Western Oregon. "But towards the end they understood the best of my interests and where I really wanted to go and they understood. No hard feelings at all."
The journey from Grants Pass to Eugene isn't all that far fetched, but England becomes the first from any southern Oregon high school to play for the Ducks since 2012.
He joins a list of former Cavemen turned Ducks that includes Jennings Stewart (2008-2012), Mike DeLaGrange (2000-2004) and Tom Blanchard (1967-1970).
"Every other truck that drives down the street in Grants Pass has a U of O something on the bumper," Grants Pass head football coach John Musser said. "There's a lot of Duck fans. Having a guy go and play there, it says a lot about our program and about U of O."
"Honestly it's pretty surreal still, but I'm just really fortunate to have this opportunity and go up there and do my best," England said. "It's going to be a lot of fun, I can tell you that."
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