Former Oregon wide receiver Darren Carrington Jr. will return to Autzen Stadium on Saturday when the Ducks host Utah.
That reality got me thinking: How incredulous would Carrington, a true diva receiver, be right now had he spent the past three weeks playing for Oregon (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) with struggling freshman quarterback Braxton Burmeister failing to get him the ball? It certainly would have been entertaining to watch Carrington get open over and over only to end up throwing his arms around in frustration over not being targeted by Burmeister, who has passed for 246 yards in three starts.
Remember, Carrington caught passes from Marcus Mariota, Vernon Adams Jr. and Justin Herbert. Carrington would have lost his mind under these circumstances.
Unfortunately, we were denied such entertainment when UO coach Willie Taggart Jr. dismissed Carrington from the team over the summer following a DUII arrest. Carrington will have his chance to exact a little revenge on the Ducks, who desperately need to win in order to improve their bowl chances. But Taggart, when asked how his team would prepare for Carrington, said his struggling team has far more pressing issues to contend with.
"Go to practice, prepare well, get ready to go out and try to play our best ball game to try to win," Taggart said. "I don't think we're going in saying we've got to stop Darren Carrington. We've got to go and play better than what we've played. It doesn't matter who is on that other side of the ball."
Taggart's decision to remove Carrington from the team remains a sound one. The move sent a message to the rest of UO's roster that Taggart would not tolerate repeat disciplinary problems from players. The decision, that took weeks to reach following Carrington's arrest, also put a large hole in the Ducks' receiving corps. Maybe most importantly, Taggart's decision was probably the best thing for Carrington. He needed a shot in the gut to let him know that his talents won't alone carry him to success. Oregon would survive with him. The NFL could survive without him.
Carrington appears to have gotten the message and is thriving for Utah (4-3, 1-3). Carrington has caught 45 passes for 649 yards and five touchdowns. He leads the Pac-12 with 92.7 receiving yards per game and his 6.4 receptions per game rank fourth.
Could Carrington have helped Oregon? Yes. Of course. But only if he had avoided being a distraction, something he failed to do in three seasons with the Ducks. A focused and discipline Carrington would help any team. But he wouldn't have helped Oregon these past three weeks without a viable quarterback to get him the ball.
Carrington should be thankful that Taggart gave him the boot and even more thankful that Utah coach Kyle Whittingham gave him a chance.
The hope here is that all of the turmoil that Carrington has created and experienced leads to him maturing and having a strong NFL career.