Newcomers Unveiled As Fall Camp Opens

Eugene -- While the first day of fall camp marked the return of proven veterans such as, Jeremiah Johnson, Patrick Chung, and Max Unger, it was also an opportunity for the newcomers to the program to strut their stuff and get a taste of life as an Oregon football player.

The late afternoon session, which took place at Pape Field, not only gave the coaching staff a chance to gauge the skill level of incoming freshman, JC transfers, and walk-ons to the program, but it also provided an opportunity to work with the likes of Eddie Pleasant and Kenny Rowe, two players who redshirted and received limited playing time respectively for the Ducks last season.

Pleasant, in particular, seems to be making a push to get on the field in some way, shape, or form this season. The redshirt freshman linebacker showed appropriate aggressiveness in drills and very good pursuit to the ball during 7-on-7's. He seems to have a great motor and the kind of range that allows him to make plays from sideline to sideline. Rowe, who Coach Bellotti mentioned would see time mostly at linebacker this season, rotated between outside linebacker and defensive end throughout today's practice session. He appears to have gotten a bit bigger in the off-season without losing speed, and flashed good pass rushing skills on a handful of plays. He personally accounted for what would have been a sack on freshman quarterback, Darron Thomas, and had a number of other plays that hurried the quarterback, causing him to make errant throws.

Speaking of quarterbacks, freshmen Chris Harper and Darron Thomas, along with JC transfer Jeremiah Masoli, were all on hand to participate in a number of drills led by UO Offensive Coordinator, Chip Kelly. Harper was only available for the first part of practice as he is battling some shoulder soreness that has bothered him since the spring, thus Thomas and Masoli split the number of reps for the remainder of the session. Thomas has proven to be in the mold of Dennis Dixon when it comes to mobility, but has yet to showcase comparably throwing prowess. He was somewhat erratic throughout the day, throwing behind and over the heads of receivers from time to time during individual drills and in 7-on-7 scrimmages. Of the three, it appears that Masoli would hold a comfortable edge over both Thomas and Harper. Throughout practice, Masoli demonstrated the best arm both in drills and in 7-on-7's, completing short, intermediate, and deep passes with equivalent accuracy. Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti commented that Masoli, "spun the ball well and made some plays", displaying a strong, fluid arm with a lightning-quick release that produced a nice zip on his passes. Like Thomas, he struggled a bit on his timing with receivers on routes, as well as, handing the ball off to the running backs out of shotgun.

"(Masoli) is very, very raw and it was his first time on the field for us, so it was a lot to learn.," commented Bellotti on Masoli's initial performance in camp.

Other newcomers that impressed were Ellis Krout and tight end Mychal Rivera. Krout seems to possess natural receiver skills, flashing very good hands and tremendous speed on the edge. While he did appear to have some difficulty at times getting a grasp of the routes, he stood out athletically and should be a player to watch as fall camp unfolds. Rivera is an imposing 6'4'' 249 lb. target who displayed good hands and surprising athleticism at the tight end position. He could get buried on the depth chart with the glut of talent the Ducks have at the position, but he definitely looks to be capable of pushing some of the veterans. Additionally, Dion Jordan appears to be a very solid addition to the wide receiving corp. He seemed to be the favorite target of Masoli in particular during the first day, demonstrating great concentration and hands.

"(Jordan) has a lot of range as a receiver," said Bellotti. "He made a lot catches that weren't always the greatest throws."

Notes: Chris Harper's injured right shoulder came as somewhat of a surprise to Coach Bellotti since he was expecting him to participate. Bellotti said, "It's disappointing simply because we need to see him develop as a passer," yet he is hopeful that Harper will be healthy enough to compete come tomorrow. Other injuries of note, freshman offensive tackle, Carson York and redshirt freshman defensive end, Dominic Glover didn't participate in drills today due to knee tendinitis and lower back pain, respectively. Bellotti expects them to be back within the week. Freshman Hamani Stevens also worked with the defensive tackles today as highly touted JC transfer, Justin Thompson waits to be cleared academically. Tuesday's practice is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. at Pape Field

eDuck Top Stories