Oregon Ducks

Oregon coach Willie Taggart addresses workouts, strength coach following controversy

Oregon coach Willie Taggart addresses workouts, strength coach following controversy

Oregon coach Willie Taggart characterized the workouts his team conducted last Friday that led to three players being hospitalized as "warm-ups" designed to get the team ready for the more difficult tasks ahead during winter conditioning.

They were not, Taggart said, "military-style," treacherous and dangerous workouts that many painted them out to be after the story, first reported on Monday by The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, became a national topic of conversation and sparked discussion and conversation over player safety in college football.   

Redshirt freshman tight end Cam McCormick, redshirt senior offensive lineman Doug Brenner and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Sam Poutasi were sent to Springfield PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend last Friday evening after experiencing symptoms of Rhabdomyolysis hours after completing a 6 a.m. workout during winter conditioning. 

The narrative left Taggart exasperated. The last thing, he said, that he and his staff would ever do is endanger players. What occurred, according to Taggart, was an unfortunate incident that has been blown out of proportion.  

“People are convinced that we’re (dumb) and don’t care about our players,” Taggart said. “We want our fan base to know that we do.”

The controversy that found its way into newspapers and onto websites and television networks across the nation abruptly ended what for Taggart had been about as good of a first month on a job as anyone could ever hope for. 

Taggart, hired on Dec. 7 to replace Mark Helfrich, hit the recruiting trail running by landing commitments within weeks, he assembled what appears to be a dynamic coaching staff, and he successfully rebranded the program, replacing "Win the Day" with "Do Something."

Then, in as much time as it takes to do a push up, Taggart found himself being forced to defend the workout regimen in question put forth by his strength and conditioning coach, Irele Oderinde.

Oregon on Tuesday suspended Oderinde for a month, and Taggart and UO athletic director Rob Mullens released statements in which Taggart took responsibility for the situation while Mullens emphasized that the University holds the well-being of its students in high regard.

All three players are expected to recover. Brenner has already been released. What happened was certainly unfortunate. The question is, was anyone at fault?

--- Introductory workouts

Oregon began winter conditioning last week. Workouts conducted by Oderinde were held last Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. 

The idea, Taggart said, was to ease the players out of winter break with workouts that didn't consist of running or weight lifting. Oregon missed a bowl game last season for the first time since 2004. That meant that returning players had an extra full month off from structured football activities that they weren't used to having. Their season ended with a loss at Oregon State on Nov. 26.

Typically Oregon's seasons end around the first of the year with a bowl game appearance. 

“We knew our guys weren’t in shape so we didn’t put them in the weight room or run them, or anything” Taggart said. “We’re going to build up to that. It all started with pushups and sit-ups.”

Oderinde used the same workouts under Taggart at South Florida and Western Kentucky. Oderinde played at WKU when Taggart was an assistant there from 1999 through 2006. Oderinde later worked as a strength coach at WKU during Taggart's tenure as the Hilltoppers head coach. By the time Oderinde made it to USF under Taggart in 2014, the strength coach had nearly 10 years of experience, according to the Bulls' website, with previous stops at West Virginia, South Carolina and Notre Dame

The workout sessions, which included planks, were designed to last 45 minutes with the team broken up into three groups with start times of 6 a.m., 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.  Workouts were extended if players didn't use proper technique and/or didn't follow directions, according to Taggart. Punishment involved up downs as a group even if one player botched the workout.

“The whole team is held accountable,” Taggart said. “Then they go back to pushups and sit-ups and do it right. It’s more about just teaching guys the details and how we’re going to do things the right way.”

During last year’s 4-8 season, which led to the firing of Helfrich, players slacked in some areas, namely preparation and attention to detail. Taggart has told the team that those days are over.

Reestablishing accountability, however, does not involve cruelty, according to Taggart. 

Players, Taggart said, were given breaks and allowed to get water whenever needed. Then they could resume the workouts when they were ready to do so.

“No one expected everyone to make it and do them all,” Taggart said.

For that reason, according to Taggart, coaches did not order players to continue working past their limitations. Only vocal encouragement was involved. 

“Coach O doesn’t even work that way,” Taggart said. “He’s not even that kind of guy. He doesn’t yell, he doesn’t do any of that stuff.”

Many players, Taggart said, took advantage of the ability to take breaks when they reached their max. In fact, Taggart said, coaches knew that many players wouldn’t finish the workouts. Some assistant coaches and trainers were present for the workouts. 

“We had some guys struggling,” Taggart said. “We had some guys sit out and not finish.”

--- Overdoing it

The scene involving Brenner, Poutasi and McCormick, Taggart said, did not involve the players passing out on the field and having to be rushed to the hospital. 

According to Taggart, the hospitalized players participated in a 6 a.m. session on Friday (the fourth day of the workouts) then went to classes, and carried out the rest of their day before returning to the football complex for dinner.

It was then that Taggart said the three players complained about not feeling right and that their urine was dark, a symptom of Rhabdomyolysis. The condition, described on Webmd.com, is a rare and serious side effect caused by the breakdown of muscle tissue to the point where it could lead to permanent paralysis, and can cause serious kidney damage. Symptoms include muscle aches and dark-colored urine.

Extreme muscle strain can be a cause and it can become more dangerous if there is more muscle mass to breakdown. Brenner is listed at 320 pounds. Poutasi is 315. McCormick is 240.

Those suffering Rhabdomyolysis can experience muscle pain and have trouble moving their limbs. A product of muscle breakdown is creatine kinase, an enzyme found in the muscles. which can increase in the blood stream. Normal CK levels for a male over 18 is between 52 to 336 units per liter of blood. A marathon runner can reach into the low thousands. According to sources, the players hospitalized had CK levels well over 60,000.

Taggart praised head trainer Kevin Steil for recognizing the problem and responding the way that he did by examining the players and then having them taken to the hospital where they could receive intravenous fluids. Taggart visited them at the hospital.  

One potential cause of what happened is that the players were not properly hydrated before the workouts. Also, the players, pushed themselves too hard.

“A lot of that comes with wanting to impress the new coaches,” Taggart said. “But all of the trainers were out there. It wasn’t like coach ‘O’ was out there just beating them down. You’ve got certified trainers out there with them.”

Trainers are required by the NCAA to be beholden to the department and not a specific team. This prevents coaches from hiring their own trainers and then influencing them to overlook workouts or injuries that might put an athlete’s health at risk.

One veteran player, speaking anonymously, said he enjoyed and completed the workouts. He added that they were clearly designed to test the will of the players but stated that there was no pressure to complete the tasks beyond one’s limits. If a player reached their max, they could stop. 

Taggart said it was made clear to the team that players were not going to win starting jobs in January and to take care of themselves as they push through a new regimen of workouts they were not used to.

“We want you to go hard but not to a limit that you’re going to kill yourself,” Taggart said.

While some players backed off, Brenner, Poutasi and McCormick did not.

“These guys were tough guys and wanted to show the coaches,” Taggart said. “That’s probably what was part of the problem. They didn’t want to be the guy that quit. There were other guys that quit and they didn’t want to so they probably pushed themselves to a limit that they shouldn’t have.”

Moving forward, Taggart said his staff must do a better job of making sure players are properly hydrated, something he said was routinely emphasized, and explaining to players that they shouldn’t feel pressured to push themselves too far beyond their physical limits. 

A narrative floating around that the hospitalized players were too “soft” or "out of shape" bothers Taggart. 

“Those guys finished the workout,” Taggart said. "Others did not. The fact that those guys finished like that, it says lot about them. I hate that they had to go to the hospital, but it says a lot about them.”

Some fans on social media have stated that the hospitalization of players following the first week of winter workouts further proves that Ducks were slacking under Helfrich. Taggart doesn’t agree.

“That’s a bunch of baloney,” Taggart said. “People are going to have their opinions. It’s just different philosophies on workouts. I hate it because when they call our guys ‘soft,’ they are calling me soft too.”

Nobody, Taggart said, is being labeled as anything other than trying to get in shape for a long season ahead.

--- #FREECOACHO

Taggart said players seemed to enjoy the workouts and were excited to get back out there for more. That statement is supported by their reaction to the controversy through social media.

“They are ticked off because they were enjoying the workouts,” Taggart said. “Even the guys that were in the hospital.”

Several players took to Twitter to support Oderinde, whom some refer to as “Coach O," and started a #FreeCoachO hashtag. 

Junior cornerback Ugo Amadi Tweeted that the workouts weren't nearly as difficult as the media made them out to be. 

Redshirt junior safety Mattrell McGraw also defended Oderinde.

https://twitter.com/mattmcgraw_/status/821188300777996288

“The response that they have given, to me, says a lot,” Taggart said. “They wouldn’t say that if it were someone that didn’t have their best interest at heart and was trying to kill them. He’s one of the best guys you’ll ever meet. He’s not military. He’s just a good dude.”

Taggart has gotten good results from Oderinde in the past.

“I trust him,” said Taggart. “I love what he did with our football team at South Florida and I know what he could do with our guys here. But now a good guy, a good strength coach is being portrayed as somebody just whipping our kids’ butts and that’s wrong.”

Former USF players certainly appear to support Oderinde, according to a recent report in the Tampa Bay Times.

Players said that nobody they ever played with under Taggart and Oderinde ever ended up in the hospital after a workout.

Former Bulls offensive lineman Mak Djulbegovic said to the Tampa Bay Times that Oderinde isn't “gonna make you do something that's not reasonable."

"Sure, it'll be very difficult," Djulbegovic continued, "but if you don't take the right steps to be ready for these things, you might wind up in the hospital as these kids found out. Hopefully they learned their lesson."

The goal is to make the team bigger and stronger beyond what they have been used to at Oregon. It’s not that the Ducks didn’t seek size under former football strength coach Jimmy Radcliffe, but the emphasis at many positions had been more about speed and stamina given the pace of the offense under former coaches Chip Kelly and Helfrich. 

Many UO players, sources say, are excited about the prospects of getting bigger, which could help increase their NFL potential. 

“Guys are saying they want to get bigger, they want to get stronger,” Taggart said.

Taggart, who declined to discuss the details surrounding Oderinde's suspension, said his workout philosophy is no better or worse than what was being done under Radcliffe, it’s just different. Clearly Oregon experienced great success in the recent past.

While a couple of player parents wondered if the workouts might have been over the top since three players went to the hospital, some told CSN, anonymously, that they and their sons didn’t have a problem with them and were excited to continue working with Oderinde.

A department source said there is no doubt in his mind that the coaching staff cares about the players and their well-being. He said that they talk about it as a group.

The ridicule, Taggart said, has come up on the recruiting trail.  Taggart said parents of recruits have asked assistants about what happened and he believes opponents have used the hospitalizations as fodder for negative recruiting.

“All they hear is a ‘military-style workout,’" Taggart said, "and so now everybody is saying ‘they don’t know what they’re doing, they are hurting the kids, they don’t care about the kids’ welfare,’ and it’s not like that. And again, that’s why our players were so upset because they are putting a negative spin on it.”

In the end, Taggart believes that the players will perform better after going through his staff’s plan, just as players did at Western Kentucky and South Florida.

"We believe in what we're doing," Taggart said. "It’s one of those unfortunate situations that we all can learn from."

 

Four-star 2021 wide receiver Isaiah Brevard commits to the Oregon Ducks

Four-star 2021 wide receiver Isaiah Brevard commits to the Oregon Ducks

More talent is headed to Eugene. 

2021 composite four-star wide receiver Isaiah Brevard committed to the University of Oregon on his Twitter Saturday afternoon.

Oregon beat out Baylor, Missouri, Texas A&M, Florida State, Penn State, Georgia, and others for Brevard's commitment. 

Rankings are all over the place for the 6'4", 200-pound prospect as he's the nation's No. 140 overall player and No. 25 WR per composite ranking. ESPN has him as the nation's No. 7 wide receiver, nation's No. 61 overall player, and a four-star prospect. Rivals also ranks him as a four-star as the nation's No. 16 WR and No. 116 overall player. 247Sports, however, ranks him as a three-star prospect and the nation's No. 80 wide receiver. 

Despite that, the verbal commitment of Brevard moves Oregon ahead of USC and LSU to the nation's No. 5 recruiting class nationally and the best one in the Pac-12. 

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Heading into May, head coach Mario Cristobal said that he thought the 2021 recruiting class could be the best one yet and that they were "big-game fishing." It certainly appears that way, especially on the offensive side of the ball with Oregon getting arguably the best collection of offensive talent in the nation.

[RELATED]: Oregon four-star QB commit Ty Thompson wants the nation's best offense

247Sports recruiting analyst Brian Dohn predicts that Brevard will be a "power-5 starter" with the potential to be a late-round NFL draft pick. 

Big frame with wide shoulders. Carries 200 pounds like 185. Has ability to play at 215. Uses length and size well against smaller defensive backs. Tracks ball well and has strong hands. High-points ball and is true red zone threat. Catches and secures football quickly. Has good feel for game. Instinctual player. Solid route runner. Willing blocker who works down field. Does little things and is unselfish. Decent speed. Must be more consistent with releases at line of scrimmage. Needs to explode out of breaks more consistently. Adding upper body strength important. Multi-year starter at Top 20 program. Day 3 NFL draft potential.

So far this recruiting cycle, Mario Cristobal's hire of former South Carolina assistant coach and 2014 247Sports Recruiter of the Year Bryan McClendon to coach wide receivers in Eugene seems to be paying off as the Ducks are on pace to have the best wide receiver class in program history.  

Four-star Kyron Ware-Hudson (nation's No. 22 WR) committed back in December and five-star Troy Franklin (nation's No. 2 wide receiver) committed to Oregon last week.

Additionally, they're the favorites to land four-star Dont'e Thornton (nation's No. 6 wide receiver) who won't commit until the Adidas All-American Bowl in January. 

Previously, the program appeared to be a lock for four-star Xavier Worthy but he pushed back his commitment, now set for July 10th, and is considered to be a Michigan lean. 

[RELATED]: Meet the 2021 Oregon Ducks recruiting class so far

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Olympian Devon Allen].

You can watch Brevard's highlights here.

Galen Rupp excited for what's in store at Tokyo Olympics

Galen Rupp excited for what's in store at Tokyo Olympics

“It’s everybody’s dream to be an Olympian. Everybody’s hungry. Everybody’s trained a little bit harder and is going to be on their A-game.”

Those are the words of Galen Rupp, a Portland, OR native and University of Oregon alumnus who is one of the more recognized northwest Olympian names. 

The Oregonian attended Central Catholic High School where he won back to back cross country titles in 2002 and 2003 and three individual championships in track and field. Rupp attended the University of Oregon where he earned 14 All-American honors and five individual championships. And in February, Rupp won the US Olympic Men's Marathon Trials! 

Rupp qualified for his fourth consecutive Olympic Games after running 2:09:20 in the Atlanta qualifier. The two-time Olympic medalist won by 42 seconds. 

But his journey to Tokyo was abruptly halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has delayed the Summer Games until 2021. 

Rupp is among those featured in NBC Sports Northwest’s  campaign to honor local Olympians and Paralympians from the Oregon and Washington areas, which began yesterday on Father’s Day and runs through Saturday, July 4.

The multiplatform campaign will highlight local athletes through profiles and vignettes, which are presented by your local Northwest Toyota dealers. 

[RELATED: Timeline of Historic Hayward Field through the years]

Athletes who will be highlighted throughout the campaign include:

  • - Long-distance runner and five-time Olympic medalist Galen Rupp
  • - USWNT player and three-time Olympic gold medalist Shannon Box
  • - Decathlete and 1992 Olympic bronze medalist Dave Johnson 
  • - Fencer and four-time Olympic medalist Mariel Zagunis
  • - Sled hockey player and 2014 Paralympic gold medalist Rico Roman
  • - Goalball player and two-time Paralympic medalist Jen Armbruster

[RELATED: New Hayward Field is complete and it looks absolutely stunning]

And while Rupp’s 2020 dreams were delayed a year, he’s still excited about the opportunity to go to Tokyo. 

I haven’t spent a ton of time in Tokyo. I’ve been on the outskirts, so I’m really excited to see the city. But, I know it’s going to be an unbelievable event. 

“Every Olympics is different, but they’re all special. I’m excited to see what Japan and Tokyo has to offer.”

You can see more Olympic profiles and vignettes here

Oregon Ducks star Sabrina Ionescu rocks Liberty merch for first time

Oregon Ducks star Sabrina Ionescu rocks Liberty merch for first time

The moment you’ve all been waiting for is here. 

We are finally getting a look at Sabrina Ionescu in her New York Liberty threads and we need a Liberty seafoam green jersey...STAT!

[RELATED: Justin Herbert sports new Chargers gear in return to Oregon]

The No. 1 draft pick and former Oregon Duck took her swag level to the extreme in the Liberty’s latest post which features Ionescu in mint and then again in black on a Times Square-esque billboard. 

It’s no surprise her brand new jersey sold out from the WNBA merchandise site in less than an hour. Take a look:  

Be sure to download and listen for free Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football

The Ionescu threads became so popular that some shops began selling jersey t-shirts as a lower-cost alternative to rep the G.O.A.T. 

This isn’t the first or last time Ionescu has made wearing a women’s basketball jersey a pretty big deal. Nike began making her Ducks jersey in November 2019 and sold out within the first two hours.

Nike made it official with the triple-double queen after she moved across the country to join the Liberty, signing Ionescu to an endorsement deal. Now, WNBA fans all across the country can rep Ionescu with pride even when there’s no game. 

In her four-year college career, the Oregon sensation became the first player in NCAA history, male or female, to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists in a career. Ionescu took home two Wooden Awards given to the nation’s top college player and quickly vaulted as the nation’s premier college basketball player. 

She returned to Eugene for her senior year in hopes of pursuing a national championship. The Ducks were a projected No. 1 seed in the 2020 NCAA Tournament before it was canceled due to COVID-19.

Ionescu never completed her “unfinished business” at Oregon, but soon she’ll be fulfilling another dream come true as she steps on the court at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, as a member of the Liberty. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Olympian Devon Allen].

Justin Herbert sports new Chargers gear in return to Oregon 

Justin Herbert sports new Chargers gear in return to Oregon 

Chargers clothes have always looked good on Justin Herbert. Ever since he was nine years old, he’s donned his favorite team’s gear proudly

But now that Herbert’s officially a quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers, the feeling is becoming more surreal for the sixth-overall pick and all the fans who have watched him thrive during his football career. 

With NFL training camps not starting until late July, Herbert returned to his old stomping grounds of Sheldon High School to get in a workout. In a photo he shared on Instagram, he is rocking a new Chargers helmet…and it looks sick.

View this post on Instagram

The boys are back in town

A post shared by Justin Herbert (@justinherbert) on

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The helmet is part of the sleek uniforms the L.A. Chargers unveiled ahead of the upcoming 2020 season at the new SoFi Stadium.

Herbert hasn’t had much time to build relationships with his new teammates since becoming a member of the Chargers two months ago. OTAs and rookie minicamps went virtual this year due to COVID-19 and the NFLPA has encouraged players to halt private in-person workouts for the time being. The first time he will officially join his Chargers teams on the field is in late July, when training camp ensues. 

[RELATED: Justin Herbert among Ducks, Beavers on new season of Hard Knocks]

Herbert certainly has his work cut out for him if he wants to beat Tyrod Taylor for the starting gig, but at least we know the rook will rock the bolt while doing it. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Olympian Devon Allen].

 

Former five-star recruit CJ Walker to transfer out of Oregon

Former five-star recruit CJ Walker to transfer out of Oregon

The Oregon Ducks men's basketball team always has plenty of turnover between teams and this offseason is no different.

However, usually, it's the Ducks taking in highly sought after transfers but this time it's the other way around.

Oregon Ducks forward CJ Walker has announced he has entered the transfer portal with the intention to be closer to his hometown of Sanford, FL amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, per his Twitter.

"As the coronavirus has tragically continued to spread across this country forcing our Nation into lock down it has given me a lot of time to think about my future and what's in the best interest of my family and our health -  both physically and mentally," wrote Walker. 

"These past few months have been tough on everyone, and I understand this will be a long battle ahead. During this pandemic I'm also heavily dealing with ailing family members who are high risk with underlying conditions living back in my hometown of Sanford, FL.

"There is so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, the upcoming season, and even if one will be played next year. I have decided the best decision I can make for both my mental and physical health is to return home to be close to my family and my support system." 

The 6'8", former five-star recruit averaged 4.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in 28 appearances, including seven starts, for the Pac-12 Champion Oregon Ducks last season. 

Be sure to download and listen for free Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football

With the departure of center Francis Okoro, Walker was expected to earn a lot of playing time as a small-ball center next season as a sophomore. Unfortunately for the Ducks, he's decided to pursue other opportunities with the ultimate goal of becoming an NBA player.

"[I'll] continue to train and work at becoming the best basketball player I can be, to get back to a positive and healthy mindset, and to keep working towards my ultimate goal of becoming an NBA player one day," Walker stated. "During this process I have decided to enter my name into the transfer portal to be able to properly weigh all options while this pandemic continues on."

Coming out of high school, Walker was the No. 28 overall player in the country and the sixth-ranked power forward. Before choosing Oregon, he named a final-three of Oregon, LSU, and Miami.  His hometown of Sanford, FL is 251 miles north of the University of Miami. 

Florida has been experiencing another outbreak of the coronavirus in wake of re-opening, including a new one-day record for cases of 9,585 positive test results, for a total of 132,545 total cases. Hospitalizations have hit 14,136, according to the Florida Department of Health with nearly 3,400 dead. 

We at NBC Sports NW wish Walker nothing but the best. Once a Duck always a Duck. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Olympian Devon Allen].

Oregon four-star QB commit Ty Thompson wants the nation's best offense

Oregon four-star QB commit Ty Thompson wants the nation's best offense

The recruiting game has been changing.

No longer do only coaching staffs recruit prospects to their schools, but nowadays fellow recruits do as well, including Oregon four-star quarterback commit Ty Thompson

The 6'4", 200-pound prospect committed to Oregon back in March just one month after getting an offer from the University following the hire of new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. 

Now, Thompson has been rising up recruiting rankings to No. 80 overall via composite ranking to be one of the premier offensive recruits in the country. He also accepted an invite to the finals of the Elite 11 competition and spoke with 247Sports Blair Angulo about receiving the invitation, which gives him more pedigree with other prospects. 

“Being selected to the Elite 11 Finals has given me some confidence talking to other recruits and telling them we’re about to have the best offense in the nation,” Thompson told 247Sports. “They can really see it and understand that we’ve got a really good offensive class going and a top quarterback. It’s a big deal in recruiting for me to go in there and do well at the Elite 11."

Be sure to download and listen for free Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football

Who is he recruiting in particular? Bue-chip wide receiver prospects Xavier Worthy, the nation's No. 11 by 247Sports wide receiver who has been compared to to DeSean Jackson, and Dont'e Thornton, the nation's No. 6 wide receiver by composite ranking. 

[RELATED]: 2021 four-star WR Xavier Worthy AKA ‘The Real Flash’ places Oregon in top-6

“Right now, the guys I’m recruiting the hardest are Xavier Worthy and Dont’e Thornton. They are both very good players."

Worthy was widely expected to choose Oregon on June 27th but pushed his commitment back six days before the scheduled announcement. Meanwhile, Thornton's also considered to be leaning towards Oregon but he won't commit until the Under Armour All-American Game on January 9th, 2021.

Those wideouts aren't the only prospects Thompson's been recruiting, however. He also wants to sure up his offensive line which had already secured commitments from four-stars Jonah Miller, Jackson Light, and Bram Walden.  

"At linemen, we are also going after Kingsley Suamataia and Bryce Foster. These are the guys I’ve been pushing to get into this class.”

The 6'4.5", 315-pound Bryce Foster appears to be leaning towards Oklahoma or Texas A&M, but never say it's over until it's over as the Ducks are inside his top-five, along with the two leading schools, Texas and LSU. 

Meanwhile, the 6'5", 280-pound Suamataia is also the cousin of Oregon five-star 2019 signee Noah Sewell, but the nation's No. 10 offensive tackle and nation's No. 59 overall prospect reaffirmed that he won't choose Oregon just because of Noah. 

“Noah and I are close and I know he will be great anywhere, but (my recruitment) will be about where I can get the best opportunities to grow and be the best me,” Suamataia told The Oregonian ahead of an Oregon visit last year.

Perhaps Thompson can help seal the deal for the Ducks and it wouldn't be the first time he's helped secure a commitment. 

He helped secure a verbal commitment from the nation's No. 11 tight end Terrance Ferguson: "We just got another tight end in Terrance Ferguson and I had been on him," said Thompson.

Ferguson tweeted support of his quarterback Monday evening after Thompson killed it at the first day of the Elite 11 finals.

How well did Thompson do? Good enough for one recruiting analyst to name him the best quarterback after the first of three days of the competition.

[RELATED]: Four-star Oregon commit Ty Thompson ranked No. 1 QB at Elite 11 Camp

Already, the Ducks have one of the best offensive recruiting classes in the nation with Thompson, five-star wide receiver Troy Franklin, four-star tight ends Ferguson and Maliki Matavao, and four-star receiver Kyron Ware-Hudson.

“I’m super excited,” Thompson said. “We have the best offensive weapons in the nation and we’re just getting started.”

Thompson's not alone with his assessment. 247Sports recruiting expert Steve Wiltfong said following Ferguson's commitment that Oregon's "tracking to arguably be the best offensive haul in the country."

The quarterback prospect from Arizona won't stop until that's a reality. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Olympian Devon Allen].

Four-star Oregon commit Ty Thompson ranked No. 1 QB at Elite 11 Camp

Four-star Oregon commit Ty Thompson ranked No. 1 QB at Elite 11 Camp

If there's one thing the Oregon Football staff has an eye for, it's talent.

Oregon has been recruiting at unprecedented levels under head coach Mario Cristobal and while part of that is securing commitments with more blue-chip rated recruits, the staff has also been able to identify talent early before they blow up. 

That's what happened with 2021 four-star quarterback commit Ty Thompson who verbally committed to Oregon back in March. 

[RELATED]: Oregon Ducks receive verbal commitment from 4-star quarterback Ty Thompson

At the time of his commitment, 247Sports rated him as the No. 142 overall player and No. 8 pro-style quarterback in the nation. With the updated recruiting rankings, he has risen to No. 138 overall by 247Sports but is rated as the No. 80 overall player by composite score. 

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Now, he's continuing to impress, most recently at the Elite 11 camp: the nation's premier quarterback competition for college prospects. Getting an invite itself is an accomplishment but after the first day of camp Rivals Recruiting Analyst Woody Wommack ranked Thompson as the best quarterback after the first day of the Elite 11 finals.

Thompson was sharp from start to finish and I didn't see him miss a throw. He also looked good on the hoof and appears to have bulked up a little bit since the last time I saw him back in February. -  Woody Wommack

Additionally, Sports Illustrated ranks him as the second-best performer of the camp, thus far, only behind five-star QB Caleb Williams.

After catching onlookers' attention based on an ideal frame, the Oregon commitment played the part with a big arm all evening long. Second and third level accuracy was sustained as the night wore on. - SI All-American

That wasn't the end of the praise coming from the staff at Sports Illustrated.

Oregon Commit Ty Thompson (Ariz.) was one of the most surprising prospecting in the eyes of the SI All-American team today. He was poised in the pocket, fluid in his release, and delivered the ball efficiently and effectively to all three levels of the field in each setting of the camp. 

Then, Elite 11 head coach and Super Bowl Champion Trent Dilfer had high praise for the Arizona native, per 247Sports.

I thought Ty Thompson was really impressive. Very consistent. Like a kid, no matter what you ask him to do he did it well. What I like about Ty, he has a lot of different throws, I call it a throw catalog. He can throw it hard, soft, throw it early, throw it late, speed it up, he did a lot of really nice things. - Trent Dilfer

The Oregon commit spoke with 247Sports after being named to the finals of the Elite 11 competition, calling it "a dream come true." 

“It was really just excitement and a dream come true to be selected,” Thompson said. “It’s been a goal of mine since I was little when I first picked up a football, so to get to compete at the Elite 11 Finals makes me super proud.

“I felt like I did very well in the Regional and I feel like it gives me a little momentum heading into the Finals, especially with the relationships I’ve been building with the coaches. That gives me a confidence boost, for sure. … Going into something like this and competing against the best quarterbacks in the nation, I really feel like I’m confident. The goal obviously is to come in and win, be the MVP for sure. But, if not, at least be in the top 11. That’s been my goal for this camp.”

Can he win MVP? Maybe. Thompson still has time to make more of an impression as the camp will continue through July 1, which then the top-11 performers of the invitation, and the MVP of the event, will be named. 

UPDATE: The Elite 11 coaching staff has rated him at No. 4 after one day. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Olympian Devon Allen].

Oregon WBB guard Morgan Yaeger medically retires from basketball

Oregon WBB guard Morgan Yaeger medically retires from basketball

Oregon women's basketball guard Morgan Yaeger has announced her medical retirement and therefore will not return to Eugene for her fifth year of eligibility in 2020-21 per her Instagram. 

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"It has been an extremely hard decision," Yaeger wrote, "but since I am graduating this year, I have decided to return home to Australia to focus on getting physically and mentally healthy in hopes of pursuing any opportunities that may emerge there."

Yaeger, who dealt with a back injury while at Oregon, graduated this past academic year with an art degree and plans to pursue a career in graphic design or in coaching basketball. But for now, the Adelaide, Australia native will head back to the land down under.

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But, she'll never forget the years she spent in Eugene and especially what she was a part of, as one of the recruits in the program-defining 2016 class that included Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard. 

"It humbles me to say that I have been a part of one of the most impactful women's basketball teams in history."

In three active seasons as a Duck, Yeager appeared in 76 total games scoring 128 total points with 16 three-pointers and 43 assists. After sitting out the 2017-18 season due to injury, she came up big down the stretch of the 2018-19 season when then-freshman guard Taylor Chavez fractured her left foot causing Yaeger to become the first guard off the bench. 

Chavez would not return to the floor that season, but the Ducks would overcome her injury, in part thanks to Yaeger, to make the program's first-ever Final Four. 

"We are extremely thankful to Morgan for everything she has given to our program over the last four years," said head coach Kelly Graves in a release. "It's been tough watching her deal with this injury for so long, but she has been an incredible teammate and a huge part of our success. She leaves here as a three-time Pac-12 champion and a lifelong Duck, and I can't wait to see what's next for her moving forward."

Yaeger won three straight Pac-12 regular-season championships with the Ducks and a pair of Pac-12 Tournament titles while at Oregon. 

"The incredible opportunities and memories I have been gifted are beyond precious to me," wrote Yaeger. "Thank you for the unforgettable ride. Go Ducks!" 

Yaeger helped build the program to where it stands today, and while she'll be missed on the floor, the Ducks are ready to reload with five incoming five-star recruits who are all Eugene-bound.

[RELATED]: Oregon WBB starts off signing week with No. 1 recruiting class in 2020

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Olympian Devon Allen].

Oregon natives Tyson Coleman, Thomas Tyner disagree with Civil War name change

Oregon natives Tyson Coleman, Thomas Tyner disagree with Civil War name change

Last week, Oregon and Oregon State issued a joint statement announcing that neither school will continue to refer to the Oregon-Oregon State rivalry game as the Civil War, due to associations with the American Civil War.  

“While not intended as a reference to the actual Civil War, OSU sports competition should not provide any misconstrued reference to this divisive episode in American history. That we did not act before to change the name was a mistake,” Oregon State president Ed Ray said in the release.

"Today’s announcement is not only right but is a long time coming, and I wish to thank former Duck great Dennis Dixon for raising the question and being the catalyst for change.," said Oregon Director of Athletics Rob Mullens. "Thanks also to our current student-athletes for their leadership and input during this process. We must all recognize the power of words and the symbolism associated with the Civil War. This mutual decision is in the best interests of both schools, and I would like to thank Scott Barnes for his diligence as we worked through this process. We look forward to our continued and fierce in-state rivalry with Oregon State in all sports."

[RELATED]: Oregon-Oregon State no longer using "Civil War" name for its sports rivalry games

The reaction has been mixed. Some people are in support of the change like Oregon legend Dennis Dixon and Oregon State stars Ken Simonton and Steven Jackson. Additionally, some current student-athletes at both schools are in agreement with the schools' decision.

Former Oregon safety Garren Strong, who Dixon called when asking around if he should talk to Mullens about the game, is also in favor of the change. 

“You look at that name, ‘Civil War,’ and you obviously understand it if you live in one state and you’re an Oregon or Oregon State fan," he told The Atheltic. "But if you truly take a step back and see where that name comes from, and where it actually originates from, I think there would be a lot more questions about the name.”

However, many disagree with the name change, with some going as far as to claim it's needless virtue signaling rather than making actions that would envoke real change. 

Two former Oregon Ducks players that grew up in Oregon, Tyson Coleman and Thomas Tyner, told Tyson Alger of The Athletic that they disagree with the change:

“Dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. It is the Civil War,” former Lake Oswego linebacker Tyson Coleman texted Alger. “Quote me.”

“Well, I’m right there with Tyson,” texted Thomas Tyner, an Aloha High School legend who played at both Oregon and Oregon State in college. “I think it’s nothing but stupid.”

Meanwhile, Oregon State wide receiver and former Oregon City three-star Trevon Bradford tweeted that as an Oregonian he never had an issue with the name but he also understands the name change.

The game hasn't always been referred to as the Civil War, though. 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. 

Before then it was referred to as the Oregon Classic, and perhaps the schools will bring that name back. But only time will tell. 

The schools plan to rename the rivalry with no timetable for a decision announced.

[RELATED]: Platypus Cup and other options for renaming the "Civil War" rivalry