Oregon Ducks

Atlanta signs Tony Brooks-James after an impressive two days at rookie minicamp

Atlanta signs Tony Brooks-James after an impressive two days at rookie minicamp

After going undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft, former Oregon running back Tony Brooks-James has officially found a home in the NFL.

Brooks-James made a quick impression on the Atlanta Falcons through two days of rookie minicamp; the Falcons signed Brooks-James following practice on Saturday.

Reportedly a standout at practice, Brooks-James broke several big runs, slipping through the hole and showing off his exceptional speed in the open field.

Brooks-James’ confidence never waivered. He was invited to both Atlanta’s and Seattle’s rookie minicamps. After the Seahawks’ practice, NBCSNW Seahawks insider Aaron Fentress spoke with the 5-foot-9, 190-pound versatile running back.

"I think I have a chance to stick here (in Seattle) or in Atlanta," Brooks-James said. "It's all about getting a chance to stick and stand out."

He then paused and smiled before letting it be known, "I'm making a team."

At Oregon, Brooks-James totaled 3,302 all-purpose yards over his career. He averaged 26.1 yards per kick return last season and 25.7 per return as a redshirt junior.

 

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Tyrell Crosby shows off insane physical feat, is not skipping leg day

Tyrell Crosby shows off insane physical feat, is not skipping leg day

Tyrell Crosby is a big dude. The Detroit Lions offensive tackle is 6-foot-5 and weighs in at 309 pounds. 

While the Lions are waiting for the go-ahead to re-open their Allen Park practice facility due to the coronavirus pandemic, players are finding unique ways to get a workout in. Crosby is no exception. 

Crosby recently showed off his physique in a video on Twitter, where he jumped out of the pool and onto the concrete without using arms. Yes, the big man has hops-- a 48” vertical to be precise.

Take a look: 

The former Oregon standout Crosby was taken by the Lions in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He’s poised to have a huge role on Detroit’s o-line in the future, despite playing just 26 NFL games while starting seven. 

Crosby established himself as a starter with the Ducks during his sophomore year, but he broke his foot in the third game of the 2016 season, ending his junior campaign. He returned for his senior year and did not allow a single sack or hit on his quarterback for the entire 2017 season, securing the Morris Trophy for the Pac-12’s best offensive lineman in the process. 

Until the NFL resumes, Crosby is staying in and staying safe. In a recent Q&A with the Lions, the 24-year-old said he was enjoying homemade pasta and BBQ, and working out by curling Costco cases of water. His latest video proves he’s also been reaping the benefits of leg day.  

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

Payton Pritchard wins Bill Hayward Male Amateur Athlete of the Year

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NBCSNW

Payton Pritchard wins Bill Hayward Male Amateur Athlete of the Year

Payton Pritchard from The University of Oregon is your Bill Hayward Male Amateur Athlete of the Year!

In case you needed to be a reminder of what Pritchard has done over his basketball career as a Duck:

Pritchard was the Lute Olson Award (Top Division I player) and Bob Cousy Award (Top point guard) winner, named Pac-12 Player of the Year and USBWA District IX Player of the Year, a consensus AP All-American, Pritchard was named to 13 different All-American teams and is the first Duck to earn AP 1st-Team All-American honors.

He is also the only player in Pac-12 history with 1,900 points, 600 assists and 500 rebounds in a career.

Last season, Pritchard led the Pac-12 in points (20.5 per game) and assists (5.6) and was the only major college player to average over 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists per game and helped guide the Ducks to a 24-7 record and Pac-12 regular-season title. The season, however, was canceled prior to the NCAA Tournament due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Ever wonder if the Oregon Ducks mascot is actually related to Donald Duck?

Ever wonder if the Oregon Ducks mascot is actually related to Donald Duck?

The Duck, don’t call him Puddles, is one of the most beloved mascots around the country.

But have you ever wondered if he is related to Donald Duck?

He does have that loveable Disney feel and yes, there’s a reason for it.

The University’s first athletic director Leo Harris made it a goal to have an official representation of a Duck as the mascot.

And Walt Disney was involved.  

Harris had a friendship with a Disney cartoonist, which helped him and Mr. Disney reach an informal agreement, which some say was just a handshake, back in 1947 that made the grumpy and famous duck the school’s mascot.

It would make sense that Donald was Oregon’s true first mascot after thinking about all the various battles between him and Benny the Beaver at Oregon State.

Donald Duck has a mean streak in him after all.

In 2010, Disney and the University of Oregon agreed to disassociate Donald from the Duck with both parties agreeing that the current version of the Duck didn’t closely resemble Donald Duck enough to be subject to the Disney trademark.

So, maybe you could say the current Duck is a distant cousin of Donald?

Oh, and don't forget, his name isn't Puddles.

However, there was a Puddles... In the 1920s, "Puddles," a resident of the nearby Millrace, was Oregon's first LIVE mascot.

He made his way to football and basketball games and was part of the Duck sports scene until the early 1940s.

And then there’s Mandrake, the RoboDuck...

In 2002, the school decided to adopt a new-sleeker mascot with bulging muscles.

Mandrake was definitely a less huggable mascot.

He couldn’t fly and he didn’t fly with Oregon Duck fans.

Mandrake’s last appearance came in 2003 at a basketball game, and since then fans realized just how much The Duck could never be replaced.

North Dakota State could upset Oregon in season opener

North Dakota State could upset Oregon in season opener

We are just three months out from the hopeful start of the college football season, and there are still many unknowns for Oregon Football. 

The Ducks finished the 2019 season with a 12-2 record, captured the Pac-12 title and are fresh off a Rose Bowl victory over the Wisconsin Badgers. Oregon, however, lost many of its offensive stalwarts in quarterback Justin Herbert, tight end Jacob Breeland, wide receiver Juwan Johnson, and four starters along the offensive line. 

Oregon will open its football season on September 5 against the FCS champion North Dakota State. But not everyone is convinced a Ducks win will come easy. CBS Sports writer Ben Kercheval listed the Oregon season opener as one of his potential trap games in which underdog North Dakota State could shake up the college football picture.  

Here’s what he had to say on the potential Oregon upset:  

North Dakota State has won its last six games against FBS opponents dating back the last decade. None of them were as notable as a potential victory over Oregon projects to be in 2020 --Iowa ranked No. 13 at the time of their game in 2016 -- but this is still a precarious spot for the Ducks. Expectations are high even without star quarterback Justin Herbert and a home game against what could be a top-ranked Ohio State on the calendar for the following week. To be sure, this isn't a look-ahead game for Oregon; as eight-time NCAA Division I national champs last decade, nobody's sleeping on the Bison. Still, Oregon is breaking in a new quarterback (perhaps Anthony Brown from Boston College) and loses some key pieces along the offensive line. 

While Kercheval credited the Ducks as the more skilled team, he noted North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance, who is fresh off a 1,000-yard rushing season, could be the game-changer in the matchup. 

Oregon has a clear edge talent-wise, but the name to watch for North Dakota State will be quarterback Trey Lance, who had 2,786 yards passing and 1,100 yards rushing along with 42 total touchdowns in 2019. Lance is getting some early 2021 NFL Draft buzz as well. On paper, this game should be a win for Oregon, maybe even by a comfortable margin. Be careful, though, Ducks. Scheduling North Dakota State has not gone well for FBS teams recently. 

What Kercheval failed to point out is that while Oregon faces some major rebuilds on the offensive side of the ball, the Ducks will return lineman Penei Sewell, who many speculate will be a Top-5 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and Heisman Trophy candidate, as well as key contributors like running back CJ Verdell and wide receiver Johnny Johnson III. 

The defense, however, didn't need a major facelift. Oregon has Kayvon Thibodeaux, a potential No.1 pick in 2022, as well as Rose Bowl Defensive MVP Brady Breeze, cornerbacks Thomas Graham and Deommodore Lenoir and defensive lineman Jordon Scott and Austin Faoliu. Not to mention the talent at linebacker in this 2020 class, highlighted by five-star recruit Justin Flowe.

It’s difficult to speculate on what Oregon’s team will look like in 100 days, especially since in-person voluntary workouts cannot resume until at least June 15. What we do know is Coach Mario Cristobal said his team was already developing a strong team culture. He also made it clear his Ducks will be ready to compete when that time comes. 

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

Sabrina Ionescu wins Bill Hayward Female Amateur Athlete of the Year

Sabrina Ionescu wins Bill Hayward Female Amateur Athlete of the Year

Sabrina Ionescu from The University of Oregon is your Bill Hayward Female Amateur Athlete of the Year! This is her second time winning this award!

In case you needed to be a reminder of what Ionescu has done over collegiate career:

Ionescu is the winner of prestigious James E Sullivan Award given annually by the AAU to the nation’s top amateur athlete, Earned nine different national Player of the Year awards and unanimous selection to five different All-American teams, she is the only player in NCAA history (men or women, all-divisions) with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists in a career, she is also the NCAA career leader (men or women) with 26 triple-doubles (second all-time is 12).

Ionescu, during her collegiate career, helped lead the Ducks to a 31-2 record, Pac-12 regular season and Pac-12 Tournament championships and #2 final ranking before the season was canceled prior to the NCAA Tournament due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This last season, Ionescu averaged 17.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 9.1 assists while shooting 92.1% on free-throws, and 39.2% on three-pointers.

Last month, she was drafted #1 overall in the 2020 WNBA Draft by the New York Liberty.

Oregon Ducks land 2021 four-star, nation's No. 4 TE Moliki Matavao

Oregon Ducks land 2021 four-star, nation's No. 4 TE Moliki Matavao

Entering May with only a handful of verbal commitments, Mario Cristobal said that the 2021 recruiting class could be Oregon's best yet and that the program was "big game fishing."

Approaching the end of the month, it's evident why Cristobal made those claims. Because big verbal commitments were imminent including Wednesday's news.

Four-star tight end Moliki Matavao announced his verbal commitment to the Oregon Ducks via his Instagram and live on the CBS affiliate in Las Vegas.

The 6'7" tight end from Liberty High School in Nevada is a four-star recruit, the nation's seventh-ranked tight end by 247Sports and fourth-ranked tight end via composite rankings. 

The decision was expected to go Oregon's way as all eight crystal ball predictions on 247Sports had Oregon as his landing spot. 

Clearly, Mario Cristobal was excited about the big get.

In fact, he previewed his decision during an interview with the Oregonian's Andrew Nemec on his recruiting podcast citing the school's ability to utilize the tight end position effectively. 

“The home field... it’s close to home. In a sense, it is close to home,” said Matavao. “I really love the coaching staff there. Spencer Webb, their tight end, who is just a freshman produced really well. Also, watching Jacob Breeland perform and now he’s in ‘The League.’ They have all the qualities I’m really looking for.”

Matavao was able to visit the University of Oregon days before the NCAA and Pac-12 implemented a recruiting dead period due to COVID-19. 

The Ducks now have gotten commitments from three-star WDE Terrell Tilmon, four-star OT Bram Walden, and four-star Jonah Miller in addition to Matavao in the month of May alone. 

You can watch Matavao's hudl highlights below.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

NCAA extends recruiting dead period which could interfere with Oregon's Saturday Night Live event

NCAA extends recruiting dead period which could interfere with Oregon's Saturday Night Live event

As the NCAA begins to re-authorize certain aspects of college athletics, such as voluntary, in-person workouts on campus starting on June 15th, it has also pumped the breaks on other aspects, such as recruiting.

The Pac-12 suspended all unofficial and official visits for recruiting in all sports, including football on March 12. The NCAA followed suit by suspending all recruiting visits through April 15 and then extending the suspension through May 31.

Wednesday afternoon, the NCAA extended the dead period through July.

"The Division I Council Coordination Committee extended the recruiting dead period in all sports through July 31," said the NCAA in a statement. "The committee will regularly evaluate the dead period, continuing to be guided by medical experts."

“The extension maintains consistent recruiting rules for all sports and allows coaches to focus on the student-athletes who may be returning to campus,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “The committee is committed to reviewing the dead period again in late June or early July.”

Oregon has been operating virtually to recruit the 2021 class and has even secured a few highly touted commitments such as four-stars Jonah Miller and Ty Thompson, but this extension could harm the Ducks as they typically host their annual 'Saturday Night Live' camp at the end of July and get to showcase top recruits from all over the nation in-person. 

Last year, the event helped secure a commitment from four-star wide receiver Johnny Wilson, however, he would eventually flip to Arizona State on signing day. 

It also lets the recruits bond with one another and the coaches to scout the players while coaching them up so potential Ducks get a taste of what it'd be like to play for the staff. 

Oregon could always host the camp later on in the summer if the pandemic subsides, or in December in between the Pac-12 Championship and Oregon's bowl game like they planned in 2017 before Willie Taggart left for Florida State and the Las Vegas bowl caused the program to reschedule the event.

The implications of this extension from the NCAA could cause some speedbumps in the recruiting process, but on a more positive note, we've all seen how influential Mario Cristobal can be on the recruiting trail.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

Chip Kelly was 'the worst communicator,' rubbed people the wrong way with Eagles

Chip Kelly was 'the worst communicator,' rubbed people the wrong way with Eagles

Chip Kelly's NFL stint did not go as planned and he's yet to recapture the magic he had while head coach at Oregon.

While the results on the field got ugly in his final season as coach of the Eagles, people didn't exactly think the world of him while he was winning, either.

“I had no relationship with Chip,” longtime radio voice of the Eagles Merrill Reese said during the Eagle Eye podcast on NBC Sports Philadelphia. “None.”

One story sticks out to Reese, however. 

The Eagles had just destroyed the Dallas Cowboys 33-10 to advance to 9-3 and take control of the NFC East division, all while on Thanksgiving Day in front of a nationally televised audience.

So of course, Reese was hyped about the victory and wanted to congratulate Kelly. 

I walked up to him on the plane flying home from Dallas after that great Thanksgiving night game, maybe the best game of his career here, and said, ‘Great game, Chip, it was really fun to call that,’ and he looked over and said, ‘Oh,’ and turned his head.

Not wanting to talk to the media is one thing and that's nothing new for Chip. But, is it that hard to say "thank you"? The conversation probably wasn't going to last more than a couple of minutes anyways and all Reese was doing was congratulating him. 

Reese made it sound like this type of behavior from Kelly was normal while he coached the Eagles.

“He was the worst communicator of any coach I’ve ever been around,” Reese said about Kelly. “I mean, [Rich Kotite] was mercurial, up, down all over the place, but Richie could be warm and nice. You never saw that with Chip.”

Kelly went 10-6 in both of his first two seasons as head coach in the NFL which was enough for ownership to give him control over personnel decisions. He then went on to trade away LeSean McCoy, cut Deshaun Jackson, trade for Sam Bradford, and sign Demarco Murray while using a zone-blocking scheme. 

The roster moves were so bad that Kelly would be fired 15 games into his third season after starting 6-9. He then would coach the San Francisco 49ers for a season, going 2-14 before being fired again and accepting the head coaching job at UCLA. 

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

Ever Wonder why the Ducks and Beavers rivalry is called the Civil War?

Ever Wonder why the Ducks and Beavers rivalry is called the Civil War?

There is nothing much civil about it.

The battle for bragging rights and state supremacy. 

There's college sports rivalries across the nation: The Red River Showdown, The Backyard Brawl, The Holy War, Tobacco Road, World's Largest Outdoor (Cocktail) Party, Bedlam Series, The Iron Bowl. 

So, how did the Oregon-Oregon State series get its name?

The term “Civil War” first appeared in newspapers way back in 1929 -- when an Oregon coach equated the game’s importance in the state to the Civil War -- and it caught on. In just a few years it came into general usage. That’s because, just like the actual Civil War did in border states, the rivalry is something that has divided the state, often pitting brother against brother and caused families to choose sides.

Or, in these games, it’s often been husband vs. wife in allegiance to one school or the other.

With the football games, it’s not as obvious as North vs. South. The enemy is more stealth.

One-time OSU head coach Dee Andros once famously said that the game is “for the right to live in the state of Oregon.”

And sometimes, allegiances can be complicated.

The voice of the Beavers, Mike Parker, is actually a graduate of Oregon. Don Essig, the long-time public address announcer for Duck football and basketball, is a graduate of Oregon State.

But one man stands above everyone else in terms of seeing both sides of the series of games between Oregon and Oregon State and he is Rich Brooks -- someone who competed, with great success, on both sides of the fence..

Brooks played at Oregon State and then later served as an assistant coach there. But then he became head coach at Oregon, where he won more games against the Beavers than any other Duck coach. When you step on the playing field at Autzen Stadium, you’re standing on “Rich Brooks Field.”

Attempts have been made to dump that Civil War moniker, but it’s seemingly just too ingrained now. Sports columnists and editors over the years tried in vain to ban the reference, but it just won’t go away.

There has never been a long-lasting trophy given to the winner of the game, although there was one carved out of maple in 1959 that was given to the winner for a few years. Called the “Platypus Trophy,” it was in the image of the animal with a duck-like bill and a beaver-like tail. The trophy was lost for more than four decades before being found in a closet at McArthur Court and is now reportedly exchanged by booster clubs for the schools.

But it isn’t something that’s become an icon for the winner, who after all, gets to live in the state for another year.