When an athlete suffers an injury that could leave them sidelined for an entire season, the first thing that comes to mind is if they will be the same player after they recover. But for Oregon football commit Mase Funa, the consequences could be even more troubling.
Funa, who verbally committed to the Ducks on April 21, confirmed just days before his commitment that he suffered a knee injury, which his head coach Bruce Rollinson said would require surgery.
Rollinson would not specify the details of Funa’s knee injury, but expressed his dismay with the loss of his star linebacker.
“We lost our best defensive player,” said Rollinson. “I don’t expect him to play for us in ’18.”
At 6-foot-3, 245 pounds the Los Angeles product was a play-making machine for Mater Dei High School in his junior season, helping lead the Monarchs to their third USA Today National Championship.
“You can’t say enough about his playing ability,” said Rollinson. “We can put him in the slot or one the line, and he’s going to make plays.”
Funa, who started playing linebacker at just 7-years-old, has always had a love for football, but his first and favorite sport is rugby.
“I actually started playing [rugby] when I was 6,” said Funa, “That’s how I met kids who played football.”
Funa’s mobility and athleticism make him a unique talent at both the linebacker position and the rugby pitch, as Funa scored eight tries for the Monarchs in his short junior season.
“I like rugby more. It’s more exciting and physical,” said Funa, “but football is where you can make a living.”
With offers from schools including USC, Washington, Oklahoma, the four-star recruit verbally committed to Oregon. Funa is the No. 4 ranked player in California and the No. 3 ranked outside linebacker in the country, according to 247 Sports.
“I’m excited for him,” said Rollinson, who currently has over a dozen former players competing in Division I football. “I just want him to have success.”
Despite his excitement for Funa, however, Rollinson is wary of the Oregon commit’s decision, especially with the injury he currently has.
“I always worry that guys get caught up in the excitement of an unofficial visit and commit too soon,” said Rollinson.
Because Funa has not officially signed with Oregon, the possibility of his offer being revoked due to injury is a possibility, but Rollinson believes passing on a talent like Funa would be ill-advised.
“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out his presence,” said Rollinson, “He leads by example and is a great asset regardless of his playing ability.”
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