Oregon Eyeing Power Forward Turned Quarterback Nightmare Julian Rochelin

Brandon Oliver@@BOatBRContributor IJanuary 21, 2014

DE Julian Rochelin has the size, athleticism and untapped potential to draw comparisons to former Oregon star Dion Jordan.
DE Julian Rochelin has the size, athleticism and untapped potential to draw comparisons to former Oregon star Dion Jordan.Harry How/Getty Images

With the amount of recruiting coverage there is today, it seems as if every varsity starter in America has a recruiting profile somewhere on the Internet.

That's part of what makes the story of defensive end Julian Rochelin of Woodland Hills, Calif., so amazing. After playing Pop Warner football, Rochelin didn't step on the gridiron again until this past season. 

If you look for him on any of the major football recruiting websites, his name won't be listed. When you take a break from the game for nearly a decade, that is to be expected. 

However, don't expect the anonymity to last long. Rochelin will likely be blitzed by college coaches over the next two weeks with the same ferociousness he used to rush quarterbacks this past season.

His father played college basketball at UCLA alongside Reggie Miller and Pooh Richardson in the 1980s. So it makes sense that Julian, a 6'6", 220-pound power forward, has been focused on basketball for most of his life.

He attends one of the top prep basketball programs in California and has helped El Camino Real win two Los Angeles city championships in his first three high school seasons.

At 6'6", he is a classic "tweener" on the hardwood. At 220 pounds, it would be tough for him to have much of a chance to be an effective scorer or defender at the college level, and he's too small to play in the post.

On Tuesday, his father said they decided to give football a shot because there are hundreds of elite 6'6" basketball players, but not nearly as many jumbo athletes with his speed and versatility on the gridiron.

"We just decided that he should give football another try and see how it goes," said Charles Rochelin, who played professional basketball in Europe for 10 years.

After watching more and more football as Julian got older, they realized that he could have a real opportunity to make some noise on the football field with his combination of size and athleticism.

It turns out they were right. After a season in which he racked up 114 tackles and eight sacks, Rochelin was named the defensive player of the year in his league. He was also named all-city in Los Angeles.

Since his highlight tape began to spread across the Internet, Rochelin has quietly been gaining momentum on the recruiting trail.

San Diego State was the first to pull the trigger and extend an offer to the rising star. Michigan State thinks enough of him that they flew coaches out to meet with him on Tuesday morning.

Oregon, UCLA, UConn, Cincinnati and many others have expressed interest, according to his father.

"We spoke with one of the recruiting assistants from Oregon last week, and he told is to apply to the school and that they would be back in touch once they received his application."  

When it comes to late bloomers and sleepers, Oregon has done a masterful job of turning overlooked recruits into bona fide stars over the past 20 years.

The Ducks have established a pattern of recruiting athletes and deciding where they best fit once on campus.

At 6'7", former Oregon DE Dion Jordan arrived at Oregon as a wide receiver with a rare combination of height and speed. He was moved to tight end before eventually making the switch to defensive end, where he led the Ducks in sacks as a junior.

After his senior season, Jordan's value skyrocketed and he became the third overall pick on the 2013 NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins.

Rochelin offers the same type of skill set and versatility. According to his father, Michigan State likes him on both sides of the ball, having discussed the opportunity of playing either defensive end, outside linebacker or tight end if he were to choose the Spartans.

There is no telling where Rochelin might end up or just how far he can take his untapped potential on the football field, but Oregon is a program that can offer a lot of evidence when it comes to developing unknown recruits.

Rochelin need look no further than the NFC representative in Super Bowl XLVIII. The Seattle Seahawks have two valuable players on their roster who were recruited to Oregon as under-the-radar high school players with a total of five FBS offers between them.

Seattle cornerback Walter Thurmond III had offers from San Diego State and Wyoming before the Ducks made him an offer. He signed with the Ducks and became a four-year starter and a three-time All-Pac 10 performer. He was eventually drafted by Seattle in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL draft.

Other than Oregon, Seattle's All-Pro center Max Unger had just one offer as a 2-star recruit out of Hawaii. Like Thurmond, Unger chose Oregon and went on to become a four-year starter and four-time All-Pac 10 performer before being drafted by Seattle in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft.

The list of Oregon's under-the-radar recruits turned NFL players is much longer, and Rochelin has the type of untapped potential that Oregon could use to add to that list.

The dynamic athlete is likely to receive a handful of offers in the next couple of weeks, and Oregon would be wise to be one of the programs to extend him an offer.

The Ducks don't have a huge need for defensive ends or outside linebackers right now, but knowing that he hasn't even begun to scratch the surface of his potential makes it hard to pass up a talent like Rochelin.


*All quotes were obtained first-hand unless otherwise noted.


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