When Justin Flowe signed with the University of Oregon in 2020, he was the second-highest-rated football prospect to ever sign with the school.
After a shortened first season due to a knee injury, a fully healthy Flowe is ready to make an impact for the 2021 Ducks.
Just ask defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter.
"I think he's playing with more confidence," said DeRuyter after Oregon's second fall practice. "During the spring, he only went the last five or six practices because we had a regulator on him because of the injury. You've seen him at times in our practice already... the explosiveness he exudes. He can really break on balls and when he gets there, ear pads and balls tend to splatter and go in different directions."
During Oregon media day earlier that week, freshman linebacker Keith Brown echoed that sentiment.
"That man’s been in the weight room I can tell you that," said Brown. "You’re going to see some explosive, crazy, cleats-flying, helmets-flying-off hits from him."
"It's fun to watch him and Noah [Sewell] because they both have that explosive ability," added DeRuyter.
Speaking of the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year, Sewell has taken on more of a vocal leadership role with a year under his belt within the program, and it hasn't gone unnoticed.
"I think it's just part of growing up and maturing," said DeRuyter. "You come in here as a true freshman, there's a lot of talent around here you kind of have to find your niche. I think at the inside linebacker position it's natural for that guy to assume that position and I think as he makes more plays, guys look at him as the leader.
"That guy sets a standard for himself that's a pretty high standard for everybody else to try to reach."
Also during media day, Flowe gushed about sharing the field with Sewell.
"The chemistry of me and Noah is really tight because I knew Noah for a long, long time," Flowe said. "We've always been competing at linebacker. We're going to do whatever we can to help the team."
All in all, DeRuyter seems pleased with his linebacker room, especially given the depth of talent found down the depth chart.
"Ken Wilson has been phenomenal in developing his room, recruiting to his room," he said. "I like our depth there."