EUGENE - Oregon senior cornerback Arrion Springs, one of the more humorous players on the team, didn't hesitate when asked to name potential breakout players for 2017.
"Myself," he said with a smile.
Springs then quickly named junior cornerback Ugo Amadi and freshman nose tackle Jordon Scott before slipping "myself" in again and ending with sophomore linebacker Troy Dye.
It appears that someone plans to have a big year.
“I have no choice at this point,” Springs said. “Everything has to come together.”
Putting it all together has been a problem for Springs to date. In many ways he has defined the often maddening issues the Ducks' secondary has experienced the past two seasons. At times, Springs has been brilliant, displaying strong cover skills in a Pac-12 Conference loaded with good receivers. Then there's those times when he appears to be lost and blows coverages to give up easy touchdowns. Springs is striving to increase the ups and decrease the downs.
Senior safety Tyree Robinson said Springs has a heightened sense of urgency about him.
"I think he has really matured knowing that this is his last go-around," Robinson said. "He's not leaving a lot of plays out there on the field that he wishes he could have had back."
Oregon coach Willie Taggart gave each player a clean slate before evaluating them and said Springs has been impressive.
"He had a wonderful spring, especially toward the end of spring ball," Taggart said. "He's continued that throughout training camp so far. I've seen a different guy than what I saw on film last year."
When asked which loss last season hurt the most, Oregon State (34-24) or Washington (71-20), Springs answered: "Cal."
“I got scored on twice and I got pulled,” Springs said of the 51-49 overtime loss. “That was the worst day.”
Despite inconsistent play, Springs has led the team with 12 pass breakups in each of past previous two seasons. Making even more impact plays while decreasing the mental lapses is Springs' goal.
“My mind is right,” he said. “I’m just living in the moment. I don’t have girl issues…so.”
Cornerbacks coach Charls Clark wants to see more consistency from Springs. "That's one thing we've been working on. But he's a smart kid and he understands the game. Great knowledge. He does a good job of being able to play multiple spots and get guys lined up."
Springs said he has been working on his hands. He has just one career interception, a game-clincher in the end zone during a 61-55 triple-overtime win at at Arizona State. He said he hopes that being asked to be more physical in new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt's defense will improve his overall game.
“I can press again," Springs said. "That’s a strong point of mine. I feel like that will help me out.”
Taggart and Leavitt will be relying on Springs to accentuate his strengths and improve on his weaknesses this season. Strong cornerback play will be needed if the Ducks are going to improve much upon last season's 128th-ranked defense.
If Springs delivers, maybe a career in the NFL awaits. NFlDraftScout.com rates Springs as the No. 14 cornerback prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft. There were 33 cornerbacks drafted this year.
"Sometimes when it's your last go-around," Taggart said, "you start to put it together knowing that the end could be any time now."