Oregon Ducks

Which Duck linebackers will wreak havoc? The locks, contenders and longshots

Which Duck linebackers will wreak havoc? The locks, contenders and longshots

The Ducks know they have two stars at linebacker in junior Troy Dye and senior Justin Hollins. With the emergence of La’Mar Winston Jr., this position unit could be the strongest on the team.

LOCKS

Troy Dye, junior, inside linebacker: Oregon's defensive MVP for the 2017 season has generated major NFL draft buzz and has landed on three major watch lists; the Bednarik Award (nation’s top defensive player), the Butkus award (nation’s best linebacker) and the Nagurski award (nation’s best defensive player).

In his two seasons, the preseason All-American has 198 tackles with 118 solo tackles, 80 assisted tackles and 9.5 sacks.

Justin Hollins, senior, outside linebacker: The Butkus award nominee is heading into his fifth year at Oregon as the only Duck to have played on the unit that helped get Oregon into the inaugural College Football Playoff championship game in 2014.

Last season he forced three fumbles and finished third on the team in tackles for loss (11.5) behind defensive end Jalen Jelks (15) and linebacker Troy Dye (13.5).

La’Mar Winston Jr., junior, outside linebacker: The Len Casanova Award for leadership winner (voted on by his teammates) played in all 13 games for the Ducks in 2017, including seven starts. Five of those starts came over the final six games when he delivered 31 tackles with five for loss. He finished the season with 49 tackles, eight tackles for loss and two sacks. 

[WATCH: A SUMMER IN PARIS WITH LA'MAR WINSTON JR.]

"(La'Mar)'s put on weight and strength," Dye said. "Seeing his transition from our freshmen year until now is phenonemal."

CONTENDERS

Kaulana Apelu, senior, inside linebacker; The walk-on was placed on scholarship before the start of 2017 season. He played in five games and made three starts, totaling 20 tackles, including three for loss before suffering a season-ending injury. Apelu rehabbed and returned to the field in time for spring practice. In the spring game, he led the Ducks’ defense with nine tackles and returned a tipped pass 100 yards for a touchdown.

Isaac Slade-Matautia, redshirt freshman, inside linebacker: Last season Slade-Matautia utilized his redshirt. ESPN and Rivals ranked the four-star prospect a top two player from the state of Hawaii. He is competing to be in the mix for starting alongside Dye.

"(Isaac)'s a beast," Dye said. "He's going to surprise a lot of people. There are a lot of things that he has taught me."

Adrian Jackson, freshman, inside linebacker: A consensus four-star prospect and the state of Colorado's top player in 2017. Dye called Jackson a "phenomenal beast" a few days into fall camp. Jackson currently backs up Dye at the JACK linebacker position, but says he’d be willing to move to MIKE.

[READ: How the new redshirt rule helps Oregon]

Keith Simms, sophomore, outside linebacker: Suffered a season-ending injury last season. Played both inside and outside throughout spring practices and totaled 8 tackles and a sack during UO’s spring game. Simms could add quality depth if he can stay healthy.

LONGSHOTS

Sampson Niu, sophomore, inside linebacker: In 2017, Niu played in six games and finished with eight tackles and one tackle for loss. He missed spring drills while rehabbing an injury suffered in the Las Vegas Bowl. Four-star prospect and the top inside linebacker in the state of California by Rivals and 247Sports.

MJ Cunningham, true freshman, inside linebacker: A consensus three-star prospect by ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports. The Portland-native is another freshman that could crack the rotation.

Who will Herbert sling the ball to? The Locks, Contenders and Longshots at receiver

How and when to watch the Oregon Ducks at the NFL Combine

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USATI

How and when to watch the Oregon Ducks at the NFL Combine

A record-tying seven former Oregon standouts will take part in this week’s 2020 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. The seven Oregon participants equal the program’s most set three other times in 2007, 2012 and 2015.

[RELATED]: Justin Herbert wants to prove he's a competitor at NFL Scouting Combine

A program record six offensive players will represent Oregon over the first part of the week, highlighted by Rose Bowl MVP and projected first round QB Justin Herbert. The six offensive players is tied for the fourth most from one program at this year’s event. Oregon is also one of four programs with three or more offensive linemen at the combine.

HOW TO WATCH

The NFL Network and NFL.com are providing live coverage of on-field drills Thursday, February 27 to Sunday, March 1. The coverage will begin at 1 p.m. PT on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. on Sunday.

OREGON PARTICIPANT DETAILS & SCHEDULE

Name                                       On-Field Day          Pos.                 Jersey #                  Group #
Jacob Breeland                       Thursday                   TE                     TE02                           1
Justin Herbert                         Thursday                   QB                    QB07                          2

Juwan Johnson                        Thursday                   WR                   WO31                         3

Jake Hanson                             Friday                        OL                     OL17                          4

Shane Lemieux                        Friday                        OL                     OL28                          5

Calvin Throckmorton              Friday                        OL                     OL48                          5

Troy Dye                                   Saturday                    LB                     LB14                           9

Sunday, February 23

·         TE Jacob Breeland – Arrive in Indianapolis, orientation and interviews

·         QB Justin Herbert – Arrive in Indianapolis, orientation and interviews

·         WR Juwan Johnson – Arrive in Indianapolis, orientation and interviews

Monday, February 24

·         TE Jacob Breeland – Measurements, medical pre-exam, x-rays, orientation and interviews

·         QB Justin Herbert - Measurements, medical pre-exam, x-rays, orientation and interviews

·         WR Juwan Johnson - Measurements, medical pre-exam, x-rays, orientation and interviews

·         OL Jake Hanson – Arrive in Indianapolis, x-rays, orientation and interviews

·         OL Shane Lemieux – Arrive in Indianapolis, x-rays, orientation and interviews

·         OL Calvin Throckmorton - Arrive in Indianapolis, x-rays, orientation and interviews

Tuesday, February 25

·         TE Jacob Breeland – Media interviews, medical examinations, testing and interviews

·         QB Justin Herbert – Media interviews, medical examinations, testing and interviews

·         WR Juwan Johnson - Media interviews, medical examinations, testing and interviews

·         OL  Jake Hanson – Measurements, medical pre-exam, orientation and interviews

·         OL Shane Lemieux - Measurements, medical pre-exam, orientation and interviews

·         OL Calvin Throckmorton - Measurements, medical pre-exam, orientation and interviews

·         LB Troy Dye – Arrive in Indianapolis, x-rays, orientation and interviews

Wednesday, February 26

·         TE Jacob Breeland – Bench press (2:30 p.m.), psychological testing, NFLPA meeting and interviews

·         QB Justin Herbert – Bench press (12:30 p.m.), psychological testing, NFLPA meeting and interviews

·         WR Juwan Johnson – Bench press (12:30 or 1:30 p.m.), psychological testing, NFLPA meeting and interviews

·         OL Jake Hanson - Media interviews, medical examinations, testing and interviews

·         OL Shane Lemieux - Media interviews, medical examinations, testing and interviews

·         OL Calvin Throckmorton – Media interviews, medical examinations, testing and interviews

·         OL Troy Dye - Measurements, medical pre-exam, orientation and interviews

Thursday, February 27

·         TE Jacob Breeland – Will not participate in on-field drills.

·         QB Justin Herbert – On-field drills (Vert/Broad Jump – 2 p.m., 40-yard dash – 2:30 p.m., Position Drills – 3:30 p.m., 3-Cone/Shuttle – 5 p.m.)

·         WR Juwan Johnson – On-field drills (Vert/Broad Jump – 3:30 p.m., 40-yard dash – 5 p.m., Position Drills – 6 p.m., 3-Cone/Shuttle – 7:30 p.m.)

·         OL Jake Hanson – Bench press (12:30 or 1:30 p.m.), psychological testing, NFLPA meeting and interviews

·         OL Shane Lemieux – Bench press (12:30 or 1:30 p.m.), psychological testing, NFLPA meeting and interviews

·         OL Calvin Throckmorton – Bench press (12:30 or 1:30 p.m.), psychological testing, NFLPA meeting and interviews

·         LB Troy Dye – Media interviews, medical examinations, testing and interviews

Friday, February 28

·         Jake Hanson – On-field drills (40-yard dash – 1 p.m., Position Drills – 1:30 p.m., Vert/Broad Jump – 2:30 p.m., 3-Cone/Shuttle – 3:30 p.m.)

·         OL Shane Lemieux – On-field drills (Vert/Broad Jump – 2 p.m., 40-yard dash – 2:30 p.m., Position Drills – 3:30 p.m., 3-Cone/Shuttle – 4:30 p.m.)

·         OL Calvin Throckmorton – On-field drills (Vert/Broad Jump – 2 p.m., 40-yard dash – 2:30 p.m., Position Drills – 3:30 p.m., 3-Cone/Shuttle – 4:30 p.m.)

·         LB Troy Dye – Bench press (2:30 p.m.), psychological testing, NFLPA meeting and interviews

Saturday, February 29

·         LB Troy Dye – On-field drills (Vert/Broad Jump – 3:30 p.m., 40-yard dash – 4:30 p.m., Position Drills – 5:30 p.m., 3-Cone/Shuttle – 6:30 p.m.)

Ducks, Dana Altman hopeful for N'Faly Dante's return vs. Oregon State on Thursday

Ducks, Dana Altman hopeful for N'Faly Dante's return vs. Oregon State on Thursday

Good news coming out of Eugene on Tuesday that Ducks fans have been waiting to hear: Oregon men’s basketball center N’Faly Dante is eyeing his return to the court.

His return could come as soon as Thursday against visiting Oregon State in chapter two of this season's Civil War series.

Oregon head coach Dana Altman and senior point guard Payton Pritchard met with members of the media on Tuesday at Matthew Knight Arena: 

Dante was seen moving around and in warm up gear before tipping off against the Arizona Wildcats last Saturday. Dante did not play in the game.

The 6-foot-11 center from Bamako, Mali has been battling knee tendinitis. The last game he played for Oregon was back on Jan. 8 against the University of Washington up in Seattle, WA. In the nine appearances for the Ducks, he averaged 6.2 points and 2.7 rebounds and totaled six blocks. While those numbers seem small, the big man just needs time and minutes. 

He is very athletic.

In their first Civil War meeting, the Ducks had trouble getting into the paint from any position on the court: guards, bigs, anything. Pritchard talked about it after the game. Oregon State's Kylor Kelley, the 7-foot senior forward, recorded 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Having Dante on the court, with his sheer size and athleticism alone, would be a dominating presence for the Ducks.

Justin Herbert wants to prove he’s a competitor at NFL Scouting Combine

Justin Herbert wants to prove he’s a competitor at NFL Scouting Combine

Former Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert knows he has a lot to prove before the NFL Draft on April 23.

He needs to showcase his versatility at quarterback. He needs to demonstrate how quickly he can take information from his meetings to the field. And he needs to prove to teams that despite the fact he’s never been the prototypical natural-born leader, that won’t matter.

But of all the areas Herbert wants to show teams at the NFL Scouting Combine this week, it’s his competitive nature he hopes to put on full display.

“I want to come out here, I want to do everything,” Herbert told reporters on Tuesday. “Have fun, get better, learn, I think it’s all about the long haul. Anything that I can do to extend my game is what I’m going to do.”

On his list of “everything,” Herbert confirmed he will throw during NFL Scouting Combine Drills. This will give him an opportunity to showcase his robust arm strength and improve his draft stock in the pre-draft process.

Herbert won’t fit into the clichéd mold some teams are looking for at the combine, but he will likely be scooped up by a team looking for the next face of the franchise. His arsenal of skills and his high football IQ, however, won’t guarantee that he’ll start on an NFL team from Day 1. Herbert may not even be ready to play immediately.

"I've never played a down in the NFL,” Herbert said. “I couldn't tell you what the speed of the game is like. I've watched as much as I could and I feel confident with my abilities but I've never played in the NFL before, so to give you an answer whether I could play right now, I don't think that would be in my best interest."

Herbert played four years at Oregon, throwing for 3,471 yards, 32 touchdowns and six interceptions on 66.8 percent completion across 14 games for the 12-2 Ducks. His last game at Oregon was a 28-27 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. He was recently named MVP at the Senior Bowl in January.

Herbert is currently projected to be the third quarterback taken off the board come April behind LSU’s Joe Burrow and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, but when it comes down to it, Herbert says he'll just be satisfied to hear his name called. 

“Anywhere I go, I’ll be happy,” Herbert said. “I know that sounds cheesy and politically correct, but it’s true.”

Alabama reportedly targeting Oregon Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Aaron Feld

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NBCSNW

Alabama reportedly targeting Oregon Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Aaron Feld

You can hear Aaron Feld coming from a mile away. He is the loudest person in the room, or in this case, on the football field.

He's vibrant, rambunctious You can find him screaming “Let’s go!” and giving out high fives as the Oregon Ducks football team takes the field and during early morning practices and lift sessions. 

His energy is infectious, contagious. His mustache and bulging biceps are unmistakable. He is Oregon’s Head Strength and Conditioning Coordinator and he is very good at his job. 

So good, in fact, that he is in high-demand for other programs across the country.

There is rumored interest in Feld from the Alabama Crimson Tide, according to Jon Wilner of the Pac-12 hotline newsletter, who just lost their Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Scott Cochran to the Georgia Bulldogs.

Here is how Feld is already connected to Alabama:

COACHING EXPERIENCE

2012-2013, UAB: Assistant Strength Coach (football) & Head Strength Coach (women’s basketball)

2013-2014, Alabama: Volunteer Strength Coach (football)

2014-2015, North Alabama: Head Strength Coach (all sports)

2015-2017, Georgia: Assistant Director of Strength and Conditioning (football)

2017-present, Oregon: Head Football Strength and Conditioning Coordinator

Feld graduated from Mississippi State University. He has certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association.

While this is just a rumor, it would be a huge blow to the Oregon football program. His Fourth Quarter program in the offseason has paid off for the Ducks in terms of staying in shape and increasing both size and speed when the season rolls around. Also, his energy is contagious. Flex Friday's, yelling and jumping around, leading before practice stretching, he does it all for the Ducks to limit injury and keep the Ducks in football shape.

Feld is the 27th highest paid strength and conditioning coach in the nation, third in the Pac-12 conference. He made $310,000 in 2019 and had a max bonus of $93,000.

It would be a big loss indeed.

 

Sabrina Ionescu’s record setting night was perfectly poetic in honor of Kobe and Gigi Bryant

Sabrina Ionescu’s record setting night was perfectly poetic in honor of Kobe and Gigi Bryant

Sabrina Ionescu's day started with speaking at her friend's memorial service.

She gave a touching speech at Staples Center in front of thousands and shared the wonderful memories she had with Kobe and Gigi Bryant.

She then hopped on a short flight north where the No. 3 Oregon Ducks were waiting for her. So was No. 4 Stanford. It was a top-5 showdown on a Monday night in Palo Alto with the Ducks looking to clinch a share of the Pac-12 title, while Stanford was looking for revenge.

Ionescu didn't just record her 26th career triple double, but she also made history becoming the first NCAA player to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds. She needed nine rebounds coming into the game to complete the triple threat. She did and it is awesome.

On 2-24-20, the combined numbers of Gigi (2), Kobe (24), and Sabrina (20), Ionescu made history! 

It is perfectly poetic.

Here is how social media reacted to this unbelieveable milestone:

Instant Analysis: No. 3 Oregon clinches share of Pac-12 title with win over No. 4 Stanford

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OregonWBB Twitter

Instant Analysis: No. 3 Oregon clinches share of Pac-12 title with win over No. 4 Stanford

The Stanford Cardinal were ready to avenge their 32-point loss from back in Eugene on Jan. 16. They changed up their defensive scheme, leaving Oregon’s Minyon Moore open on the offensive end, double teaming Ruthy Hebard down low and clogging up driving lanes.

That didn’t last long.

The Ducks put the ball in Sabrina Ionescu’s hands as she fed it to the hot hand, Satou Sabally.

On a night where Ionescu made history in more ways than one, the No. 3 Oregon Ducks (26-2, 15-1 Pac-12) officially clinched a share of the Pac-12 conference title with the win over No. 4 Stanford (24-4, 13-3 Pac-12) in Palo Alto, California.

FINAL SCORE: Oregon 74, Stanford 66

Here are three quick takeaways from the game:

1. EARLY DEFENSE / POOR SHOOTING

The Ducks quickly jumped out to a 10-point lead after going on an 11-0 run to close out the first quarter. It was a nine minute scoring drought for Stanford. Junior Satou Sabally got the hot hand early hitting from both three-point range as well as AND-1 opportunities.

Stanford’s poor shooting start didn’t help the Cardinal either, hitting just 3-for-17 in the first quarter alone.

2. SATOU SABALLY

The 6-foot-4 forward has been a matchup nightmare all season long. She can stretch the floor wide with her sharp shooting which leaves room for her to drive the ball. 

Sabally brought her offensive skill and kept the Ducks afloat giving them a boost and a quick 10-point lead. She finished with 27 points hitting 10-for-17 from the field and nine rebounds.

3. THE BEST EVER, SABRINA IONESCU

Coming into Monday’s game, Sabrina Ionescu needed nine rebounds to reach a stat that no other has ever done before. She got all nine within three quarters. 

On her ninth rebound, Ionescu became the first player in NCAA history to record 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds.

If those numbers aren’t crazy enough, how about recording her 26th career triple-double, too? Ionescu records back-to-back triple-doubles and finished with 21 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds in the win.

It is her first against a top-10 opponent and eighth this season.

UP NEXT: The Ducks finally return home to host the Washington schools, starting with Washington State (11-17, 4-12 Pac-12) on Friday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. (PT) in Eugene, Oregon.

Sabrina Ionescu becomes the first NCAA player EVER to reach 2K points, 1K assists, 1K rebounds

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NBCSNW

Sabrina Ionescu becomes the first NCAA player EVER to reach 2K points, 1K assists, 1K rebounds

Sabrina Ionescu is the best player in collegiate basketball. Hands down. Cut and dry. Plain and simple. Wrap it up.

The proof is in the numbers. Something no one has EVER done before in the history of the NCAA, men’s or women’s: Ionescu becomes the first player ever to reach 2,000+ career points, 1,000+ career assists and 1,000+ career rebounds.

Here is how she got to all three:

- On November 13, 2019, Sabrina Ionescu reached 2,000 career points.

- On February 14, 2020, Sabrina Ionescu reached 1,000 career assists.

- On February 24, 2020, Sabrina Ionescu reached 1,000 career rebounds.

These numbers don’t even make sense! They seem unreachable. That is unless your name is Sabrina Ionescu.

The 5-foot-11 senior guard from Walnut Creek, California has changed the game and elevated the Oregon program to national relevance. Players commit to Oregon to play with her. Players commit to Oregon to carry on her legacy.

Here are her stats from year to year:

FRESHMAN YEAR (2016-17): Averaged 14.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game.

SOPHOMORE YEAR (2017-18): Averaged 19.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

JUNIOR YEAR (2018-19): Averaged 19.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game.

SENIOR YEAR (2019-PRESENT): Averaged 17.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game.

The NCAA leader in triple-doubles? Sabrina Ionescu, who recorded her 25th career triple-double at Cal on Friday. She even has a menu item named after her at the Wild Duck Cafe across from Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene: “Sabrina’s triple-doubles” which is three mini slider burgers, double stacked meat with cheddar cheese, pickles and slider sauce.

On April 6, 2019, Ionescu wrote a letter to Duck Nation stating she would return to Oregon for her senior season for some “Unfinished Business.”

She was most likely talking about a National Championship considering the Ducks had just come off the program’s first ever Final Four appearance and a loss to the Baylor Bears. But the possibility of consistently writing her name not just into Oregon record books but national record books is something else.

“She’s putting up ridiculous numbers.”

“I don’t know if there’s anything she can’t do.”

“It’s in her eyes and the competitive nature that she had, you can’t teach that.” -- Stephen Curry

These are just some of the things said about Ionescu.

And she’s not done yet. There is still some unfinished business left for Ionescu and the No. 3 Oregon Ducks.

Former Oregon WR Juwan Johnson gets married to Chanen Raygoza in Las Vegas

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Former Oregon WR Juwan Johnson gets married to Chanen Raygoza in Las Vegas

What happens in Vegas, doesn't always stay in Vegas. 

Congratulations are in order to former Oregon receiver Juwan Johnson, who tied the knot with longtime girlfriend Chanen Raygoza!

The Johnsons nuptials were captured on video and shared on Youtube late last week, and it seemed like quite the Vegas adventure.

Their trip included everything a trip to The Strip should: a decked out suite, a hotel pool with a slide that goes through a fish tank, a wedding with a Las Vegas twist and of course a trip to “Canes,” which we can only hope to be Raising Cane’s.

Johnson penned this post to his wife after the two tied the knot on February 15. 

View this post on Instagram

❗️Follow our Joint Channel where we both said “I DO!”❗️People who like heartfelt message, this is for you...People who don’t just like and move on Chanen, We were always different. Different point of views. Different upbringings. Different States. Different time zones. Different interest in music. We even look different lol. But what we have in common that trumps all is that we love God. We are like the pieces to the jigsaw. Never the same but it happen to fit together. I knew 2 1/2 years ago that eventually you’ll be my wife. The road wasn’t easy but I’d rather take the journey with you because it’s worth it. You helped me grow, discover and build who i am as a man. You truly seen me grow from a boy to a man. (Literally tho i met you at 20 years old). I want to take every bump, every challenge and every milestone with you. Thank you God that i can call you Mrs. Johnson. Love you @chanenjohnson Feb. 15, 2020.

A post shared by Juwan Johnson (@juju__84) on

The two reportedly met in 2016 when Raygoza was a gymnast at Penn State. He popped the question to her earlier this month

Just days after Johnson made the biggest catch of his life, he departed for the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Johnson is one of seven Ducks preparing for the NFL Draft in April. 

He underwent measurements, a hospital pre-exam, and interviews with interested teams on Monday. The 23-year-old topped all NFL Combine wide receivers with largest hands, longest arms and longest wing span.