Following their bowl game win, the Ducks are receiving some positive news on defense. Star Outside Linebacker Mase Funa has announced he is returning after winning the Holiday Bowl Defensive Player of the Game.
Funa will be the most experienced edge defender once again, and most certainly will be a leader for Dan Lanning’s defense in 2023. In what will be his final year of eligibility, he’ll look to help lead the Ducks to the College Football Playoff.
“I’m running it back,” Funa said after he helped the No. 15 Ducks rally to win North Carolina 28-27 Wednesday night at Petco Park.
Funa had seven tackles with two for loss, including a sack, in the Holiday Bowl to finish the season with a career-high 32 tackles with 3.5 for loss, including two sacks, an interception, and a pass breakup. This couldn’t be better news for the Ducks as the linebackers might have been a bit thin next season with Noah Sewell, who declared for the NFL Draft, and Justin Flowe, who is transferring, leaving the program for various reasons.
The Ducks linebacker corps heading into next season features Funa, Jeffrey Bassa, Keith Brown, Devon Jackson, Elijah Williams, Micah Roth and Harrison Taggart. Though that list doesn’t include the incoming freshman, there are not a lot of names there. The Ducks have already had Jestin Jacobs commit to his transfer to Oregon. There shouldn’t be a big surprise if Lanning and Josh Lupoi go after a few key names still out in the portal.
Linebackers still in Transfer Portal:
- Ish Harris, Texas A&M
- Terrence Lewis, UCF
- Phillip Webb, LSU
- Ethan Calvert, Utah
- RaRa Dillworth, North Carolina
- Julien Simone, USC
Pending any extra transfers the Ducks may bring, the news that Mase Funa is returning will be huge for Lanning’s defense heading into 2023.
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