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West Linn lineman staying with the Ducks

EUGENE — While Oregon’s football recruiting class is in limbo during the search for a new coach, an in-state prospect is sticking with the Ducks.

Alex Forsyth, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound offensive lineman who led West Linn to the Class 6A football title, made a verbal commitment to Mark Helfrich in June and will sign a letter of intent in February to play for the new coach.

“He was a great get for Oregon and I commend him for sticking through his commitment with the firing of the staff,” said West Linn coach Chris Miller, the former Oregon quarterback. “He wanted to be a Duck since he was a kid, and his dad was a huge Oregon fan, so I think that is part of the reasoning as well.”

Forsyth’s father, Steve, was one of two people shot and killed at Clackamas Town Center in 2012.

“He is a wonderful kid,” Miller said. “He lost his dad and that motivates him and drives him. He is the man of the family and a sweetheart of a young man.”

Miller said Forsyth has the potential to play in the NFL.

“He is a really good athlete with great feet and long arms,” Miller said. “Before he was unfortunately let go, Steve Greatwood was talking about playing him at guard. He is the most gentle of giants, but he has a nasty mean streak in him when he plays football. He is the king of pancake blocks, he loves burying other players in the turf.”

Miller said Forsyth will fit in well with Oregon’s young offensive line that started four freshmen last season in front of Justin Herbert, who became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Oregon since Miller in 1983. Herbert’s dad, Mark, was one of Miller’s wide receivers at Sheldon.

“I remember seeing Justin in Kidsports in fourth grade and he rolled left and ripped one across the field 35 yards,” Miller said. “I was like ‘Wow, that kid is special.’ It has been fun to watch him since then, and he had a great year as a true freshman. I am proud of Justin. I have said it for the last three years, he has Sunday talent. If you bring in Forsyth and those four freshmen, Oregon will have a heck of an offensive line for years to come.”

Oregon will have a new staff that may not include assistants Greatwood and Gary Campbell, who were on the staff when Miller played for the Ducks.

“I think the 30-point lead they lost in the bowl game was the first straw, and then I think if they had won the Nebraska game and the Colorado game, the whole staff is probably still here,” Miller said. “The longevity of that staff was not matched in the country. I have the utmost respect for those guys and what they accomplished for their legacy and the mark they left on the program. It is unfortunate the way it went down, but they can walk out with their heads high knowing they accomplished something great.”

Miller led West Linn on a dominant run to the Class 6A title, culminating with a 62-7 win over Central Catholic in the title game on Saturday to finish off a 13-0 season.

“I credit my guys because they turned their focus up to a college or NFL type of feel,” said Miller, whose son, Dillon, coaches freshman football and serves on the varsity staff at West Linn. “That was close to a flawless game on both sides of the ball.”

Miller coached South Eugene from 2002 to 2006 and then returned for the 2013 season before being hired at West Linn. After going 9-3 in his first season, the Lions reached the state final before losing 21-14 to Jesuit last year.

“I would have been disappointed if we did not win it this year,” Miller said. “It was one of those classes that doesn’t come along very often with 35 seniors.”

The senior class included Elijah Molden — the son of former Oregon cornerback Alex Molden — who has committed to play cornerback at Washington. After battling injuries much of the season, Molden ran 10 times for 186 yards and three touchdowns in the title game.

“If you get him 10 or 15 touches, he makes you look like a good coach,” Miller said. “He is pretty special. I think that is part of the reason the powers that be at Oregon were frustrated when you lose a legacy kid like that. He is a tremendous young man who will be a great cornerback.”

Miller said he has been contacted by some colleges about coaching, but does not have a degree from Oregon that is required for an NCAA job. He is working to earn his degree, but plans to return to coach at West Linn next year.

“It will be fun to put a new team together,” he said. “The beauty of coaching is seeing how you will do with each group.”