Sports

Ducks linebacker Lokombo reflects on Alamo Bowl win, looks ahead to NFL draft

Boseko Lokombo completed a stellar four-year career with the Oregon Ducks with a victory over the Texas Longhorns in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30. - Frank Selden / Oregon Ducks photo
Boseko Lokombo completed a stellar four-year career with the Oregon Ducks with a victory over the Texas Longhorns in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30.
— image credit: Frank Selden / Oregon Ducks photo

For Boseko Lokombo, a blowout victory in the Alamo Bowl last week was a fitting final chapter in what has been a storybook football career at the University of Oregon.

Lokombo, a senior linebacker out of Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Secondary, and his Oregon Ducks turned in their most impressive defensive performance of the season, crushing the Texas Longhorns 30-7 on Dec. 30 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Tex.

“We were playing for our coach,” explained Lokombo, alluding to the fact that Ducks defensive co-ordinator Nick Aliotti had announced prior to the game that he planned to retire. “Because it was his last game, we wanted to give him a great show, a great way to end his career.”

It also served as a great finale for Lokombo, 23, who put the finishing touches on one of the most remarkable college football careers that a B.C. high school product has ever fashioned south of the border.

His first three seasons in uniform, Lokombo helped the Ducks to prestigious Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bowls. In 2010, his redshirt freshman campaign, Oregon played in the BCS national championship game, dropping a 22-19 decision to the Auburn Tigers and quarterback Cam Newton, who would go on to become the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft and blossom into a star for the Carolina Panthers.

In 2011, Lokombo’s squad faced another future NFL QB in a bowl game – they knocked off current Seattle Seahawks pivot Russell Wilson and the Wisconsin Badgers 45-38 in the Rose Bowl.

And in 2012, the Ducks won the Fiesta Bowl, beating Kansas State 35-17.

Heading into this season, Lokombo’s Ducks had bigger aspirations than the Alamo Bowl – they were considered legitimate national championship contenders, and were ranked No. 2 in the nation after winning their first eight games.

They stumbled in their ninth game, though, falling 26-20 to archrival Stanford, and another loss two weeks later to Arizona officially torpedoed their hopes of playing in the BCS national title game.

They finished strong, though, edging Oregon State 36-35 in their regular season finale and thumping the Longhorns in San Antonio to put a bow on an 11-2 campaign. They ended the season at No. 9 in both the Associated Press and USA Today national rankings.

Lokombo was seventh on the Ducks with 63 tackles this season, his second as a starter, including four vs. Texas in the Alamo Bowl. He was also first on the team in quarterback hurries (seven), second in tackles for a loss (seven) and third in sacks (three).

“It was a blessing to be a part of it,” Lokombo said, reflecting on his time with the Eugene, Ore. program.

“We won three bowls, and so many memories, it’s hard to even explain. But I did it. I’m happy, and I’m proud of myself. Now I’m ready to pursue what I’ve always dreamed of.”

That would be a playing career in the NFL, and with his studies at Oregon complete, Lokombo is free to focus all his attention on that. In anticipation of completing his degree in journalism and communications, he marched in graduation ceremonies last spring, and he polished off his last couple of courses this fall.

The NFL draft runs May 8-10 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and the 6’3”, 229-pound Lokombo is projected to be a mid-round pick. He’s already signed with an agent, and is planning to move down to San Francisco to train in preparation for the pre-draft combine.

If the NFL doesn’t pan out, Lokombo has the CFL to fall back on – the B.C. Lions made him a third-round pick last May.

“Right now, I’m just working on staying healthy,” he said, noting that he suffered a shoulder injury in the Alamo Bowl.

“I’m not really even worried about the draft. I’m just worried about me and taking care of myself. As long as I take care of myself, all of that is going to come.”

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