Buckner tabbed to be next Hawaii-grown star to tackle NFL

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Since graduating from Punahou in 2012, Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner has been no stranger to college football’s biggest lights.

With a resume that includes a Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl win with the Ducks, as well as an appearance in the national championship game, Buckner is now making headlines with individual honors in 2015.

The Waianae native, who statistically outplayed fellow Duck defensive end Arik Armstead, the 17th overall pick in this year’s NFL draft by the 49ers, was projected by Sports Illustrated this spring as the #4 overall selection in the 2016 draft. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. also tabs the senior-to-be as a 1st round selection, giving high praise: “Arik Armstead was the name you heard about all spring, but if you watch the Oregon tape, Buckner is the guy who is making the big plays for the defense,” Kiper said. “He picked up 12.5 TFL and should build on his sack totals in 2015. At 6-foot-7 and 290 pounds, he has an impressive frame and could be a fit in almost any kind of system with another year of polish.”

In 2014 Buckner lead all Ducks with 13 tackles for a loss, also adding 4 sacks and 4 passes broken up. He chose to return to Eugene for his senior year, passing up an opportunity to follow Armstead and fellow local boy Marcus Mariota with first round glory “It was a long talk with my parents, we kind of weighed out the pros and cons of leaving. Deep down I wanted to leave, but at the same time I looked at the bigger picture. I’m almost done with school and I just wanted to finish out with school getting my degree because I know it’s going to come in handy later on post NFL.” Buckner said.

Despite the accolades, which include preseason All-American honors from college football guru Phil Steele, DeForest is trying to chop down the hype “I kind of just think about my role, what my coaches want me to do as a leader. Being able to just focus on me, and what I have to do to help my team succeed this season.”

Buckner and the Ducks will open up the 2015 season on September 5th against Eastern Washington. They’ll begin fall camp on August 8th.

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