Celotto Talks About His Decision To Move On

Each person has to march to the beat of his own drum and that is what Tonio Celotto is doing. A surprised fan base learned Sunday that Celotto had left the Oregon Ducks and his loss creates a huge void at the defensive tackle position.

"It was fun while it lasted," Tonio Celotto said of his time at Oregon. "But now I've moved on."

Celotto plans to pursue a career in law enforcement and has been greatly influenced by the recent shooting deaths of three Oakland police officers. The two-time letter winner at Oregon would like to eventually go to work for the Los Angeles Police Department and do his part to making the community safer for all. He's taken some ride-along trips with police agencies and he is very serious about the prospects of becoming a police officer.

There are some other major factors that have impacted his decision. One is that his grandmother (his dad's mother) is suffering from cancer and Tonio would like to spend as much time with her as possible. She has always been a big influence in his life, someone he could count on for guidance and advice. She lives in Los Angeles and while she is still alive he wants to spend as much quality time with her as possible.

He would also like some time rebuilding his relationship with his mother, who also lives in Los Angeles.

One other factor is that he was troubled by the dismissal of Michael Gray, his coach for the last two years at Oregon.

"Seeing Coach Gray leave bothered me, he was like a father figure to me," admitted Celotto. "That isn't a slam on the new guy (Coach Jerry Azzinaro) who is an awesome coach. I'm just over football."

Celotto while being "over football" for now did leave the door open a bit for sometime resuming his playing career. He mentioned he could go play football somewhere else besides Oregon but did not entirely rule out the possibility of sometime down the road returning to Eugene. Did the coaching change at Oregon have anything to do with his decision?

"Chip Kelly is one of the best human beings I've met in my life," said Celotto of the new Duck headman.

In fact, when it came to talking about the Ducks, Celotto had nothing but glowing things to say. He regards his teammates as "brothers" for the rest of his life and had nothing but admiration for the Duck coaching staff. Celotto let his teammates know of his decision and the reasons behind it, but understood his reasons for moving on.

Celotto was going to be an obvious starter on the Ducks' front line this season. He is a two-year letterman but was hampered by a string of injuries and illnesses. Last year he was slowed with a bout of mononucleosis and the season before had a serious staff infection that limited the number of games he played.

Oregon opens up spring practice on Tuesday and one of the obvious questions will be how the Ducks replace Celotto. This is sort of a tough spot for Celotto because he doesn't want to be "thought of as a quitter" yet he feels he must move on. With the departure of Celotto, that leaves Oregon with only two players, Blake Ferras and Simi Toeaina with any varsity playing experience. The Ducks will have one new face in the spring workouts at defensive tackle, junior college transfer Terrance Montgomery. Another junior college transfer, Andrew Iupati along with incoming freshmen Justin Brown and Wade Keliikipi. However none of these players have yet shown that they are going to be the replacement for Celotto, who many feel was the strongest player on the Ducks' roster.

One person that was devastated by the news of Celotto leaving the Oregon program was his father Mario. Tonio Celotto indicated his dad a former star at USC and player in the NFL felt badly that the younger Celotto would not continue on with his collegiate career at Oregon and possibly end up in the NFL.

"I'm the only one (of Mario's sons) that had a chance for the NFL and it was sort of his dream that I go on to the NFL," said Tonio Celotto of his father. "However I have to do what is right for me."

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