The offensive line is Oregon coach Mario Cristobal's pride and joy. He plans to coach the unit even while leading the entire football program — much to the pleasure of Lake Oswego High's Dawson Jaramillo.
Cristobal also is a very good recruiter, although it didn't take much to convince the big offensive lineman from the Lakers to sign with the Ducks.
"His reputation precedes him. He's coached for and with some of the best coaches of all-time, Nick Saban being one of them," says Jaramillo, one of 24 signees for Cristobal and the Ducks. "I'm excited to see where he takes us. He's a coach I'll put work in for."
Cristobal wants bigger and stronger offensive linemen — and defensive linemen — and it's no secret he wants the Ducks to play power, physical football, which Cristobal helped coach as Saban's assistant at Alabama.
"We're going to invest heavily in the offensive and defensive lines. That makes everything go," Cristobal says. "The amount of size and power we added up front on the offensive line was critical."
The Ducks signed two more offensive linemen this week — 6-7, 355-pound Justin Johnson and 6-5, 350 Penei Sewell — to go with their O-linemen landed in the early signing period in December: Steven Jones, 6-6, 340; Christopher Randazzo, 6-7, 330; and Jaramillo, who, at 6-5, 295, checks in as the little fella of the group.
Jaramillo, who's playing baseball for Lake Oswego in the spring, plans to join the Ducks for summer workouts and school in June. He wants to try to play in his first year, although the Ducks return several experienced offensive linemen.
"I asked (Cristobal) how could I prepare physically, and he said to get into elite shape and compete for a spot immediately," Jaramillo says. "The goal is to get into shape enough to compete, where I can excel among other freshmen."
Lake Oswego coach Steve Coury figures Jaramillo faces a redshirt season at Oregon.
"He's got a lot of God-given ability, and one of them is being 6-5 and 300 pounds with good feet, but he has work ahead of him to be at that level," Coury says.
Work includes pushing the iron in the weight room; Lake Oswego has a remodeled weight room, thanks to a Kevin Love donation, and Jaramillo plans to spend ample time in it, even through baseball season. (He's a first baseman with power). He recently had his tonsils removed, and admits to not sleeping well and sometimes having issues breathing on the field. So, working on his cardio is a priority.
"I'm just going to do everything I can to prepare myself physically and mentally," Jaramillo says, adding that whether it's offensive tackle or guard, "they'll mold me into whatever they want me to be."
Says Coury: "Each year he got better and better. The fourth year ended up being his best year. There was great improvement. He really kind of mentally got it; he understands more than ever it'll take a lot of work and effort, it's a 24/7 job at the level he's going to."
Jaramillo welcomes the talk of Oregon continuing to emphasize physical football — even with NFL prospect Justin Herbert at quarterback.
"They want to go downhill, smash mouth and beat people up," he says. "That's what football used to be and what it should be. I respect spread (offense), and winning is winning, but ..."
Jaramillo, who chose the Ducks over TCU, signed along with 14 other players in the early period in December. The departure of coach Willie Taggart to Florida State wasn't a big deal to him, especially not with Cristobal taking over the head duties.
Jaramillo knows some Ducks — offensive linemen Cody Shear and Alex Forsyth, as well as defensive back Brady Breeze, whose brother attends Lake Oswego. He also knows the Winston brothers; La'Mar plays linebacker for the Ducks, and Eli'jah spurned UO's scholarship offer to flip to USC.
"It came down to family being close, and I'm an Oregonian. I couldn't see myself living anywhere else," Jaramillo says, of signing with Oregon. "I was skeptical when Coach Taggart left, but I didn't jump ship. I wanted to see where things were at when the dust settled. My feathers weren't ruffled."
He took his official visit to Oregon only last weekend, because he wanted to experience the campus and athletics in an official capacity.
Jaramillo doesn't go gaga over Oregon's uniforms and helmets and marketing appeal. For him, it's about playing football for the Ducks and Coach Cristobal and working toward his degree.
"If I had to choose between bright green shoes or black shoes, I'd choose black shoes," he says. "The way Coach Cristobal wants to play football, it doesn't matter if we're out there in all Nike or white-stained T-shirts. When it comes down to it, it's about education and football. If those are Grade A, it's perfect."