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Jesuit's Mondeaux excited to be a Duck

by: TIMES FILE PHOTO - Jesuit senior defensive end Henry Mondeaux committed to the University of Oregon in December.

The opportunity to don the green and yellow and suit up for a University of Oregon football program that’s now widely recognized as a national power was too much to turn down for Henry Mondeaux.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Jesuit defensive end/tight end, who helped the Crusaders reach the 6A state championship game, committed to the Ducks after weighing offers from most of the Pac 12 and a few select Big Ten powers.

An athletic beast on the defensive side of the ball who actually saw his stock rise this summer at The Opening for his talents as a tight end, Mondeaux will exclusively suit up for the Duck defense.

“It’s always been a big dream of mine to play college ball,” said Mondeaux. “And, being from Oregon and playing for the Ducks, it’s just going to be an awesome experience.”

Growing up, Mondeaux watched closely as the Ducks blossomed into a perennial powerhouse, one that competes for national championships every season and has become a regular participant in representing the Pac-12 at the Rose Bowl.

Oregon State was an option too for the all-state defensive end. But, when it came down to it, Mondeaux saw himself suiting up for defensive coordinator Nick Allioti and an UO defense that’s made headway in the past decade or so under Allioti’s direction.

“The Ducks were definitely a cool team to watch, especially the last couple of years,” said Mondeaux.”It’s been a big goal of mine to play for them and now it’s a big accomplishment.”

Position-wise, Mondeaux is more of a defensive athlete pledge for the Ducks than a fixed role. A mixed defensive end-linebacker, who has the toughness and tenacity to clog the inside run, but is fast enough to rush the passer and backpedal into coverage, Mondeaux said Allioti wants him at the “hybrid” position. Current Miami Dolphin defensive end Dion Jordan made the acclaimed spot famous during his time as a Duck, primarily because of his size and versatility.

Both traits appealed to the Ducks when they broke down film of Mondeaux, and with so many various spread and pro-style offenses littering the Pac-12, it’s imperative UO has defenders who can do it all.

“They like me because I’m big and can do a lot of different stuff,” said Mondeaux. “They tend to have a lot of bigger athletes who can do a bunch of different things, so I think I fit in pretty well. I really liked all the players I’ve met so far, and they’ve had nothing but good things to say.”

More than just the two local universities, Mondeaux had scholarship offers from the likes of Washington, Nebraska, Arizona, and Arizona State amongst others. What separated Oregon in Mondeaux’s mind, however, was the fact the coaches didn’t sugarcoat their recruiting pitch or make unconvincing promises. They told the 2013 Metro League Player of the Year that if he worked hard and did what was asked of him, the opportunity to contribute and possibly have an impact on the squad would be there. Plus, Mondeaux noted he liked the small-town feel of Eugene and the appreciated the reception he received while visiting the UO campus.

“I really liked that they wanted to recruit me how I best fit into their program,” said Mondeaux. “They didn’t sell it as I was going to be a star or the guy they wanted to build the program around. And, I liked the feel when I was there. I liked all the coaches. I could see myself being in Eugene and being a part of Oregon, even if I wasn’t playing football.”

by: TIMES FILE PHOTO - Jesuits Henry Mondeaux was a force for the Crusader defense who brought a tenacity to the gridiron.

In the seventh and eighth grades, the nimble-footed Mondeaux said he was involved in basketball, traveling from state to state on the AAU circuit trying to prepare himself for high school hoops and possibly a college scholarship down the road. Those plans changed by Mondeaux’s freshman year at Jesuit, when his physique started to physically mature, and he began butchering quarterbacks and running backs on the freshman team. Head coach Ken Potter moved Mondeaux to the varsity level as a sophomore and started him on both sides of the football.

“I kind of fell in love with football,” said Mondeaux. “I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

More than memories made on the gridiron, Mondeaux said the friendships he’s forged at Jesuit throughout his four years are what he’ll remember most as he takes his talents to Eugene. As a program that churns out Division One commits every season, Mondeaux’s been able to pick the brains of some of his former teammates like current Ducks Doug Brenner and Keanon Lowe to seek out their advice on what to expect at the next level.

“It’s been nice having a lot of guys on the team that have gone on to play in college,” said Mondeaux. “It’s been great having guys to look up to and a lot of great friends to come along with it.”

Mondeaux had a breakout summer of sorts in June and July when he and fellow teammate Joey Alfieri were selected to participate in “The Opening.” A five-day display on Nike’s World Headquarters showcasing more than 150 of the nation’s top high school football players, The Opening gave Mondeaux the chance to present his prowess to those unfamiliar with the two-way star.

The Opening coaches put Mondeaux at tight end, not linebacker, but the big target certainly did not disappoint. Mondeaux used his big frame and huge catch radius to haul in 10 passes for 139 yards over the final two days of 7-on-7 and was named to the All-Opening tournament team. As a defensive player, Mondeaux didn’t get to display his nose for the football or linebacker instincts, but many an eye were opened by the big guy’s athleticism, approach to the game and competitive drive.

“Going to The Opening showed I could compete with some of the best guys in the nation, other than Oregon,” said Mondeaux. “It was good to see some of the talent from other places and where I matched up. My confidence went up a lot, and it helped me this season in becoming a leader and showing some of the younger guys some of the stuff I learned.”

Starring on offense, defense, and even special teams for Jesuit, Mondeaux was a force as a blocking tight end and a blitzing, bull-rushing disruptor while shifting from defensive end to linebacker when Alfieri went down with a season-ending leg injury. Jesuit defied the odds in the second half of the year and into the postseason with Alfieri down, reaching the state title game by playing for a common resolve and leaning on strong team chemistry. For Mondeaux, despite losing the championship game to Central Catholic, it was a culminating year, one that Jesuit nearly achieved in.

“It was a great season for us,” said Mondeaux. “I thought we were really a tight-knit team and that’s why we went farther, some of the teams in the past. We were so close together. Losing Joey was a big step back, but we rallied back and still showed we can play with anyone.”



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