Welcome to the Camp

It's always fun to look over the University of Oregon football roster released on media day in August. The first thing I do is check and see if the recruits who signed with the school last February on national Letter of Intent signing day are listed on the roster. I've learned over the years that unforeseen things happen with young men. Some players don't achieve the necessary academic entrance requirements prior to fall camp.

Some purposely want to delay their entrance to the school, and some for varying personal reasons decide that football or Eugene or the school or the Oregon football program isn't for them after all.

Of the 23 recruits who signed with the Ducks last February only three were not listed on the August media day roster, including prep wide receiver Phillip Goodman of Vallejo, Calif., prep defensive lineman A.J. Mitz of Kentwood, Wash. and junior college defensive tackle Junior Siavii of American Samoa. Although the Ducks probably could use the 6'5" and 335-pound Siavii right away, given that they only have one starting player returning to their defensive front seven, still getting 20 out of 23 recruits to report at fall camp represents a good showing and is respective of past years and other teams in the league. Furthermore, the Ducks did sign six other defensive lineman including junior college transfer Darrell Wright who should be able to supply some immediate help. Siavii, Mitz and Goodman could still show up later this year or next spring or fall depending on the circumstances involved.

I also pay close attention to the walk-on players listed on the roster. These are new players without scholarships whose names weren't present on the February recruiting list. These kids, who are usually from the Pacific Northwest, really want to go to Oregon sometimes even turning down scholarships from other schools in order to suit up with the green and yellow.

It's no secret that Oregon has developed some excellent walk-on players in the past such as fullback Eric Winn (1994-97), tight end Jed Weaver (1996-98), and punter Josh Bidwell (1995-98) among others. This year, Jed's brother Dan Weaver is listed as the second-string center behind senior Ryan Schmid after walking on last year. Projeted starters this year include senior fullback Josh Line from Springfield, Ore., senior outside linebacker Wesly Mallard from Columbus, Ga. and junior receiver Jason Willis from Los Angeles, Calif., all who were former walk-ons. Other former walk-ons listed on the current depth chart include sophomore receiver Gary Daniels from Lebanon, Ore., junior tackle Jesse Wallace from Santa Ynez, Calif., sophomore center Jared Hoff from Redmond, Wash., junior guard Pat Fields from Laguna Hills, Calif., redshirt freshman tight end Aaron Trimm from Portland, Ore., redshirt freshman fullback Joe Strobbe from Albuquerque, N.M., junior defensive tackle Kai Smalley of Salem, Ore., senior defensive tackle Chris Tetterton from Eugene, Ore., redshirt freshman defensive tackle David Toomey from San Jose, Calif., redshirt freshman linebacker Jerry Matson from Edmonds, Wash., and senior outside linebacker Ty Tomlin from Eugene, Ore.

New walk-ons this fall include freshman punter/kicker Josh Cummings of Newhall, Calif., freshman receiver Kevin Donoho from Valencia, Calif., freshman punter Eric Evans from Granite Bay, Calif., freshman safety Timothy Frieh from Springfield, Ore., freshman linebacker Matt Haliski from Eugene, Ore., freshman receiver Daniel Klein from Eugene, Ore., freshman offensive tackle Scott Parker from Hammond, Ore., freshman tight end Marcus Shelby from Carson, Calif., and freshman fullback Bret Stray from Issaquah, Wash.

Other new transfers include junior defensive end Craig Dukes from Danville, Calif., junior punter Jason Guerrero from Walnut Creek, Calif., junior fullback Paul McCrary from Livermore, Calif., junior kicker David Rosenberg from Calabasas, Calif. and sophomore tailback Onterrio Smith from Sacramento, Calif. Smith joined the team last fall transferring from Tennessee but had to sit out a year to become eligible this fall. Rosenberg and Dukes joined the team last spring and played in the spring game.

Oregon Coach Mike Bellotti has said in the past that getting quality as well as quantity walk-on players to attend Oregon is difficult because the supply of local players is rather limited. However, I would argue that when comparing Oregon walk-ons to other schools' in the league, the Ducks in recent years have developed as many starters, all-league performers and NFL draft picks from walk-ons. This year Oregon is fielding three starters who were former walk-ons and several others are likely to see substantial playing time.


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