Dylan Mickanen

Oregon verbal commit, 4-star OG Josh Simmons, opens recruitment back up

Oregon verbal commit, 4-star OG Josh Simmons, opens recruitment back up

What a difference a few months makes.

Back in January of this year, four-star offensive guard Josh Simmons tweeted he was "10000% locked in" as an Oregon recruit and committed to Mario Cristobal and the Oregon Ducks.

[RELATED]: 'Recruitment is shut down:' Four-star OL Josh Simmons commits to Oregon

Well, just over two months later he has changed his decision as he announced on Twitter.


I want to thank OU and especially coach Cristobal for everything they have done for me. I'm definitely still considering the Ducks moving forward but at this point in my recruitment, I want to open things back up to make sure I'm doing the right thing and exploring all my options

Also, he later clarified he did mean the University of Oregon when he referred to them as OU. 

This doesn't mean that the Ducks are out of the running for the highly coveted guard, especially given Cristobal and offensive line coach Alex Mirabal's excellent track record of preparing lineman for the next level. Last season their line was a finalist for the Joe Moore Trophy given to the nation's best offensive line and tackle Penei Sewell won the Outland Trophy becoming the first Duck to ever do so.

When he originally committed to play for Oregon, he tweeted a graphic that said the following.

"Family is everything to me. I know I would not have been able to get to this point in my life without the love and support of my Mother and Sister." Simmons said. "Through everything I know I have been able to lean on them. I also want to give thanks to everyone from the Helix community, my Coaches, Teachers at Madison and everyone who has had an impact on my academic and athletic career up to this point. Lastly I want to thank all the Coaches that believed in me and gave me an opportunity to further my studies while continuing to play the game I love. With that being said I would like to announce that I am Committing to the University of Oregon. Recruitment is Shut Down. 10000% Locked in #CaliFlock #ScoDucks #Duckforlife."

You can check out his hudl highlights here.

Simmons originally committed to Oregon over offers from UCLA, USC, Colorado, Duke and Washington State. He was Cristobal's sixth verbal commit of the 2021 class and the second offensive line commit with Simmons joining Jackson Light, the nation's No. 6 center.

Why Justin Herbert can overtake Tua Tagovailoa in the NFL Draft process

Why Justin Herbert can overtake Tua Tagovailoa in the NFL Draft process

Tank for Tua.

That was the motto for the bottom-dwelling teams in the National Football League heading into and during the 2019 football season.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had finished as runner up for the Heisman Trophy in 2018 and had a National Championship-winning touchdown throw the season before that. Entering his junior season, he was poised for one final college season before declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Despite Tagovailoa looking like a franchise quarterback last season, he suffered a season-ending hip dislocation against Mississippi State in November just before halftime. However, he was still considered the draft classes' best quarterback until Joe Burrow finished what may have been the best single-season in NCAA football history. 

So with Burrow as the presumed top quarterback in the draft and widely expected to be taken first overall by the Cincinnati Bengals, it leaves the question: is Tua still second?

Perhaps he is, but perhaps he's not.

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert has also entered the conversation to be potentially the second quarterback taken come draft day, and this isn't the first time Tagovailoa and Herbert have been compared.

Both quarterbacks grew up with the University of Oregon as their dream school. Then-Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich offered Herbert, a three-star quarterback prospect from Sheldon High School in Eugene, near the end of the recruiting cycle as his only Power 5 offer. The same coach also infamously screwed up the recruitment of Tagovailoa and never offered him, despite his five-star status. When Willie Taggart came to Eugene he tried to flip Tagovailoa, but it was too late and he went to Alabama. 

Both quarterbacks enjoyed successful college careers. Tagovailoa won a National Championship after starting the second half against Georgia. Herbert became a four-year starter at Oregon and won a Pac-12 and Rose Bowl Championship as a senior. 

When it comes to their leadership skills, both are as good of people as you can ask for. Herbert has been questioned for his leadership entering the draft, but every teammate he had at Oregon says that concern is unwarranted. That just because he's not as loud, doesn't mean he doesn't lead. 

When it comes to college tape, while both players look like NFL caliber players, Tagovailoa was the top player heading into the season for a reason and the tape reflects that. Herbert can look amazing sometimes, but also has games like at Arizona State last season or the first half at Washington, where he makes mind-numbingly awful throws. Mistakes like that are far less likely to occur with Tagovailoa, but Tagovailoa had superior talent around him at Alabama throwing to Biletnikoff Award winner Jerry Judy while Herbert's targets led the NCAA in drops in 2018. That season, the Oregon quarterback was criticized for zoning in on his favorite target, Dillon Mitchell, but could you blame him? Anyone else he passed to dropped the ball. 

Also, Tagovailoa will be the only quarterback in the NFL next season that's left-handed and whichever team selects him will need to change their entire offensive line scheme to protect his blindside on the right rather than the left. Not a dealbreaker, but easily an inconvenience. 

Given the coronavirus pandemic, Justin Herbert may have a chance to overtake Tagovailoa, due to the abundance of postseason information about him. 

While Tagovailoa was finishing his rehab, Herbert was participating in many different draft process events before it all got canceled due to the pandemic. He was named MVP of Senior Bowl Practice and the Senior Bowl game, where he worked closely with and impressed Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan.

He’s very talented physically. He’s got prototypical size and athletic ability. He has a really, really strong arm. On top of that, he’s extremely intelligent and he’s very conscientious. He gathers information, he can process it and he can call it. He went under center for the first time, probably, in his career and he answered that bell with flying colors. Every day I continue to be impressed with the things we ask him to do and he answers really well.

After the Senior Bowl, Herbert participated in the NFL Combine and even threw there, which most top quarterback prospects decline doing. He once again excelled.

Then, the Oregon football Pro Day was among the last pro days that happened before the pandemic canceled all the remaining ones. As always, Herbert looked like a franchise player with all the physical tools needed to succeed in the NFL.

Tua has been "fully cleared and ready to compete without any restrictions" according to the president of Steinberg Sports & Entertainment Chris Cabott, the firm that represents him. But he can't fly into teams for an individual workout nor can a team's personal medical doctors examine him. Even if the tape favors Tua over Herbert, is taking Tua over Herbert, who has impressed scouts much more recently while Tua has been in rehab, worth the risk? With the parity in the NFL, teams don't have top-five draft picks that often in the league and whiffing on one can derail a franchise or hitting on one can save one. 

It'll come down to each franchise's risk tolerance on if Tua or Herbert will be the choice for them, as Bleacher Report Draft Scout Matt Miller broke down recently.

Multiple teams prefer Justin Herbert to Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa because of injuries and the unknown. I was actually talking to a high level team executive yesterday and he said "You know, in a normal year you can honestly make an argument that Tua should be the number two overall pick and maybe number one overall pick but because you're taking a third party's word for it when it comes to his medicals at this point in time that teams are going to be a little bit hesitant," and because of that this guy and other teams have told me don't be surprised if Justin Herbert is the second quarterback picked because there are no questions about injuries when it comes to his evaluations.

As of now, the NFL has no plans to delay the NFL Draft, so we will get our answer on April 23. 

Ann Schatz has all the respect in the world for Portland's soccer fandom

Ann Schatz has all the respect in the world for Portland's soccer fandom

Few have had the illustrious career of sports broadcasting legend Ann Schatz who not only was the first woman in sports broadcasting in Portland but even got an exclusive interview bite with Tonya Harding at the height of her scandal. Now, Schatz works for the Pac-12 Network and Portland Thorns. 

On the latest episode of The Bridge Podcast, host Justin Myers was joined by the Portland Thorns broadcaster who talked about what makes the Portland market so special compared to other parts of the country.

What a tip of the cap to the city of Portland that understands great soccer. And it is nongender specific: If you can play we are going to come watch you, we're going to cheer like the dickens and we're going to keep coming back. And that's this town. And that's why I love this city so much for what it has done. It's come one come all. If you can play, we're going to come. 

Schatz went on to say that due to the knowledge of Portland, commonly referred to as Soccer City, USA, they were able to fall in love with the Thorns in their inaugural season because of the stellar skill displayed by Canadian National Team forward Christine Sinclair. 

The Portland Thorns, when they began playing in the NWSL back in 2013, and the US Soccer Federation allocated certain soccer players to each team, the Portland Thorns got some terrific allocations and it started with Christine Sinclair: Canada's finest and had starred at the University of Portland and that carryover... being the captain [of the Thorns] and the face, along with Alex Morgan... [Sinclair] brought in the soccer purists and Morgan brought in those that were curious about this league... It was a perfect storm...

It probably helps that the Thorns won the Inaugural NWSL Championship in 2013 and then again in 2017. That type of play has kept the Thorns' fanbase highly engaged in the product, and that support greatly moves the longtime broadcaster who had to deal with a lot of hatred in Portland when she began her career here. 

When you go to home games and there are 16-17,000 people at a match to watch a women's game? It still blows me away. I get the chills. Sometimes it makes me cry. I am so grateful to say that I lived to be working in a franchise in a city that attracts over 15,000 per home game for a women's event. I never thought I would see that day. It is something. 

You can listen to the full podcast below.

NCAA does not grant winter sport athletes additional year of eligibility

NCAA does not grant winter sport athletes additional year of eligibility

In wake of the coronavirus pandemic forcing the NCAA to cancel all winter and spring athletic championships, many wondered if players that didn't get to finish on their terms would be granted additional eligibility. 

Well, we have our answer.

The NCAA announced that spring sport athletes affected by their seasons being cut drastically short will all be granted an additional year of eligibility which includes sports such as softball, track and field, and baseball. The later sport will increase their limit to players allowed as baseball is the spring sport with such a limit according to the NCAA press release.

 

This is good news for athletes such as Oregon softball star Haley Cruse who saw her senior season cut short after a great start to the season. If she wants to come back she can, although she tweeted earlier that she hadn't made a decision yet.

However, winter sports athletes did not get the same treatment as many of them got to play all, if not most of their regular seasons, and just missed out on a chance to compete for a national championship.

Winter sports were not included in the decision. Council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed. - NCAA

This includes senior basketball athletes such as Payton Pritchard, Sabrina Ionescu, Tres Tinkle, and Mikayla Pivec. The first three still all planned to pursue a professional career regardless if they had received an additional year or not, but Mikalya Pivec said that she would have taken another year "in a heartbeat" and returned to Corvallis.

She will not get that chance. All four of them, among the best players in their respective program's histories, had their college careers ended due to no actions of their own, but rather because they happened to play their senior seasons during the beginning of an unprecedented pandemic in United States history. 

College basketball writer Sam Vecenie of The Athletic was not surprised about the decision.

But it's hard to not feel for the seniors affected by this decision. Only 2% of college basketball athletes go on to play professionally so that means 98% of college basketball seniors had their competitive playing careers ended because they just happened to be born when they did. Nothing they could have done on the court would have changed that, and that is too bad. 

Anfernee Simons wants multiplayer in Modern Warfare 2 Remastered

Anfernee Simons wants multiplayer in Modern Warfare 2 Remastered

With the NBA season suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, many NBA players have a lot of newfound free time on their hands.

Including Trail Blazers point guard Anfernee Simons who has been streaming on Twitch games such as Madden and the newly released Call of Duty: Warzone. He's even streamed with Blazers Outsiders host Danny Marang lately.

Given Ant's age of 20, it checks out he'd be attracted to playing Call of Duty since he grew up in the golden age of Call of Duty between Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare up until Call of Duty Black Ops II during his late elementary to high school years.

The installment from that time that's usually seen in the highest regard is Activision's sequel to Modern Warfare; Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which broke the record as the biggest entertainment launch in history at the time. In less than three months, the game had generated over a billion dollars in revenue and that doesn't include microtransactions. 

Also, personally, as I'm just a few years older than Simons, some of my fondest memories growing up was playing Modern Warfare 2 with my best friends online all night, so when a remaster of the game got leaked last month, I was hyped. The campaign was fun, but what made the game iconic was the most fun multiplayer the series has ever produced. 

Well, Monday afternoon, the Playstation Store in Germany accidentally leaked the reveal trailer for a remastered version of Modern Warfare 2 with one catch: it's only the campaign which disappointed many, including Simons.

How u gonna drop just the campaign? Y’all playing with my emotions

He wasn't alone in his disappointment.

Someone even started a petition.

However, it makes sense for the game to not offer multiplayer since Call of Duty: Warzone, a multiplayer-only experience, came out earlier this month of March 10 to great success. Activision doesn't want to split the player base by offering two competing titles within the same franchise. 

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered will launch one day after the leak of the trailer on March 31, 2020. 

The 'Payton Pritchard Challenge' spreads through social media

The 'Payton Pritchard Challenge' spreads through social media

After enjoying a career season where he won Pac-12 Player of the Year, the Pac-12 Championship and the Lute Olson National Player of the Year award, Payton Pritchard is at the top of his game.

But, you can only get to his heights with a lot of dedication and hard work.

After the abrupt conclusion to his senior season, Pritchard has returned to his home in West Linn where he won four consecutive 6A OSAA State Championships and became one of, if not the greatest, Oregon high school basketball player of all time.

Now as he prepares to take the next step in his career to the NBA, he has continued to work in his hometown. He showed off his excellent dribbling skills in the figure eight drill on his Twitter.

The video blew up amassing nearly 500,000 views as of the publishing of this article, prompting people to attempt the challenge themselves, including Oregon teammate Will Johnson and assistant coach Michael Mennegna got in on the action.

The challenge spread beyond Oregon too.

He also got a friendly challenger, his little sister Lexie Pritchard who plays for Santa Clara women's basketball. 

Lexie inspired others to attempt it in their own right.

Due to the demand, Pritchard released his full dribbling routine on his YouTube channel.

The all-time winningest player in program history finished his senior season as one of the nation's elite, averaging 20.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. The West Linn native is one of just four players nationally who led his conference in both scoring and assists and became the fourth player in conference history to do so, joining Gary Payton (Oregon State, 1989-90), Damon Stoudamire (Arizona, 1994-95) and Jason Terry (Arizona, 1998-99).

Next up for Pritchard is preparing for the NBA Draft currently scheduled for June 25, 2020 but is likely to be pushed back. 

[RELATED]: Payton Pritchard would be a great fit with the Portland Trail Blazers

Pac-12 extends suspension of organized team activities through May 31

Pac-12 extends suspension of organized team activities through May 31

The Pac-12 Conference has announced a suspension of all organized activities through May 31 in wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Initially, the NCAA had canceled all winter and sports championship events before suspending all team activities through March 29. 

According to a press release from the conference itself, here are the key elements and guidelines to follow during the suspension.

  • No organized, in-person team activities of any type;

  • No in-person voluntary workouts, film study sessions, meetings, technique drills or practices of any type;

  • Virtual or online supervised voluntary workouts and skill instruction are not permitted, regardless of location;

  • Virtual group activities, including film study, are permitted to two (2) hours per week for football and four (4) hours per week for all other sports.  We are appealing to the NCAA to increase the two-hour football limit in the near future;

  • Coaches can recommend written, self-directed workout plans, and taped demonstration videos on workout plans are allowed in order to demonstrate proper form and technique;

  • In-person, on-campus nutrition may be provided in circumstances where student-athletes are unable to leave campus, and off-campus nutrition is limited to distribution of products normally available on campus;

  • It is fully permissible to provide non-athletically related support to student-athletes, including sports medicine treatments, physical therapy and rehabilitation; academic support; and mental health and wellness support; and

  • It is permissible for institutions to provide off-campus student-athletes with apparel and personal equipment that is regularly available to student-athletes when they are on campus for conditioning workouts.  It is not permissible to rent, purchase or arrange for conditioning or strength training equipment or machines.

The announcement will impact Spring Football games nationwide if they weren't already canceled like Oregon's was. 

Also, the Ducks football team will not get to have time with new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead as expected so much of the new playbook will need to be installed and repped this summer if the pandemic is under control by then.

Oregon State will also have Tristan Gebbia and Chance Nolan get fewer reps than anticipated before training camp which may give Gebbia the edge since he has been in the program for a year longer than the JUCO transfer. 

Both Oregon and Oregon State are having all classes be online this spring term. 

Oregon Ducks golf coach Casey Martin fighting to save his leg

Oregon Ducks golf coach Casey Martin fighting to save his leg

Oregon golf head coach Casey Martin has been fighting battles his entire life and always come out on top.

Now, he's in his greatest fight yet, trying to save his leg.

The Eugene native has suffered from a debilitating condition called Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome since birth, which allowed him to win a lawsuit to use a cart on the PGA Tour. One misstep could cause him a catastrophic injury.

His greatest fear became dangerously close to coming true when he fractured his right tibia in October 2019 by misjudging a step on a road under construction.

"I knew this day was coming," Martin told the Eugene Register Guard,  "And it's here."

His condition allowed him to successfully win a lawsuit with the PGA Tour to use a cart to minimize risk. 

"I remember when I was in my 20s talking to doctors that had looked at my leg, they were like, 'Look, you need to really guard against this happening... I was grateful that I was able to hold it off for a long time. I thought it would happen at 27, not 47. But it has happened. I'm just going to do everything in my power to save my leg."

The Ducks were led by assistant coach Brad Lanning for the remainder of the fall schedule.  The spring season got canceled by the NCAA due to the ongoing pandemic. 

Martin has gotten used to winning championships and battles. Beyond his Supreme Court decision, he won a state title at South Eugene High, won an NCAA championship at Stanford, an additional NCAA Championship coaching Oregon in 2016 and a Pac-12 Championship in 2017. 

"If I lose my leg, it would be an above-the-knee deal, and it's pretty risky for my situation anyway," Martin later told the Register Guard. "It's something that I've recognized could happen, but I would really rather not, if I could save it, because of the risks."

We're rooting for you!

The core value Carmelo Anthony emphasizes in parenting

The core value Carmelo Anthony emphasizes in parenting

Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony isn't the young rookie sensation that competed with LeBron James for Rookie of the Year anymore.

He's developed as a player and perhaps more importantly, as a parent. 

As a parent, one is able to make decisions on what is important in life, a chance to learn from mistakes and an opportunity to see someone blossom.

In a recent Instagram Live with best friend Dwyane Wade, Anthony detailed what's the most crucial core value to instill in your offspring.

Respect. Respect. I don't care who you are. I don't care what you do. If you don't have no respect then nobody is going to respect you. And that's like one of the things that we preach in this household. You gotta respect people. You gotta show people that you're respectful. You gotta have manners. You gotta treat the janitor like you treat the CEO of the company... That's real. 

Carmelo and his wife La La Anthony are raising Kiyan Carmelo Anthony, age 12, who recently learned the deceptiveness of NBA highlights too with his pops. 

You can watch Wade and Anthony talk about respect in the embedded video above. 

Carmelo Anthony explains the most beautiful thing and most dangerous thing in the NBA

Carmelo Anthony explains the most beautiful thing and most dangerous thing in the NBA

In a recent Instagram Live with best friend and NBA Legend Dwyane Wade, Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony broke down what he thought was "the most beautiful thing and most dangerous thing" in the NBA.

Highlights.

It all started when Melo was watching old replayed games with his son who recognized some of the NBA players.

He like 'Oh Dad is that so and so? I seen that hightlight.' And yeah you saw the highlight, Now you get to see the game, now you get to see what happened in the highlight. - Melo

However, with added context, the plays were not as impressive to the young viewer.

He was like 'Yo... Now that highlight don't even mean much to me no more....Because I'm actually seeing the lead up to the actual highlight.' - Melo

Melo was glad to see that his son understood that highlights can be deceiving because they're clips stripped away from context. Wade added that when his NBA teams went through film sessions, "every player looked like an All-Star" and each team looked like the 1996 Bulls. That's what highlights do.

Highlights are the most beautiful thing and most dangerous thing at the end of the day. - Melo

Then, Carmelo brought up that specifically AAU mixtapes can be misleading and that he'd rather just watch the game.

But that doesn't mean all highlights are bad. They can quite entertaining.

I support all the highlights because that's where we at and people love highlights. Like everybody loves highlights. We love highlights. We love to watch our own highlights. 

You can watch the exchange in the video embedded above.