Day 3 Afternoon Practice

Eugene -- Wednesday's afternoon practice had many onlookers on the sidelines evaluating the skills of the younger players and newcomers who were busy demonstrating why they were so highly coveted.

In Wednesday's afternoon session, a few players stood out above the rest once again. Talmadge Jackson III made his presence felt immediately with a leaping interception on a great play off of a Nathan Costa pass over the middle. Jackson has both the quick feet and bulk to thrive in bump and run coverage. Drew Davis looks to be a force to be reckoned with, either very soon or not far down the road. He is extremely polished for a wide receiver coming straight out of high school and has benefited from his early enrollment while displaying great hands and route running. My best comparison might be to former Duck Keith Allen, mostly based on his build and receiver skills.

Track star Marcus Dillon has been practicing with the second unit and has shown decent hands, but is raw and will need to work on his consistency and running routes. However, there is no doubt that he is a "burner".

Aaron Pflugrad was out there and impressing again today. He is very fundamentally sound and catches everything in sight. After hearing the Mike Hass analogies, one begins to believe how eerily similar they are as football players. Pflugrad isn't the biggest or fastest, but he can play football.

Back in the secondary, Anthony Gildon and Todd Doxey have both looked good in coverage getting in on several plays and breaking up passes. Jeff Maehl was dropped back to the safety position to give defense a try and showed great football speed and surprising leaping ability.

Redshirt freshman QB Justin Roper got to show off his leg during the punting portion of special teams drills with Remene Alston, Andre Crenshaw, and Aaron Pflugrad back on return duty. Surprisingly, he was consistently nailing the ball 35-45 yards. It's no wonder the coaches have so much confidence in Justin's overall athletic ability. He also made several good throws today from his usual quarterback position.

Remene Alston and the rest of the punt returners looked solid fielding punts from Roper as well as JC transfer punter Tim Taylor and didn't allow any balls to hit the turf. Alston also showed his versatility in the backfield with a few productive runs followed by a long touchdown scamper where he put on the afterburners. Fellow RB Malachi Lewis made a great catch on an under-thrown ball from Cody Kempt as he slowed down and made a nice snag tumbling backwards. He could easily become a weapon coming out of the backfield catching passes using his height as a mismatch.

Standing on the sideline together, Casey Matthews, Terrell Turner, and Terrance Pritchett provide an intimidating preview of Oregon's future linebacking corps. All three are very talented with good size, speed, and nasty football instincts. Eddie Pleasant and Brandon Hanna have also made some plays but haven't quite stood out as much yet.

Other Notes:

As previously noted, Jeff Maehl was working at Safety today after having practiced with the wide receivers in previous action. Charles Neal was back in action this afternoon with the running backs after nursing a reported neck injury the last few days, but near the end of practice came out and had his leg iced down. Simi Toeaina did not practice today, although he was dressed down to begin the afternoon session. William Wallace was not in attendance yet and reportedly is still back home.

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