Juwan Johnson

Talkin’ with the Ducks pt. 3: Juwan Johnson's pregame rituals, secret hobby

Talkin’ with the Ducks pt. 3: Juwan Johnson's pregame rituals, secret hobby

Welcome into a new running NBC Sports Northwest feature; Talkin’ with the Ducks. The first edition is with the largest wide receiver on Oregon’s roster, graduate transfer Juwan Johnson.

[WATCH PART 1: Juwan Johnson and Justin Herbert's intensifying connection]

[WATCH PART 2: Coach Cristobal's major impact on Juwan Johnson after his father passed]

In part three, get to know Johnson better with rapid fire questions. Learn about his very specific pregame rituals and his secret hobby. Also, what is the meaning behind his touchdown celebration?

"It’s kind of cocky but sometimes you have to have a little ego when you are playing football," Johnson said. 

Talkin' with the Ducks pt.2: Coach Cristobal's major impact on Juwan Johnson after his father passed

Talkin' with the Ducks pt.2: Coach Cristobal's major impact on Juwan Johnson after his father passed

Welcome into a new running NBC Sports Northwest feature; Talkin’ with the Ducks. Joining us on the first edition is the largest wide receiver on Oregon’s roster, graduate transfer Juwan Johnson.

Juwan Johnson’s father passed away shortly before he transferred to Oregon and moved across the country. In part two of this feature, we dive into some of his favorite football memories with his father, how he's honoring his legacy and the impact that Coach Cristobal has had during the trying time. 

[WATCH PART 1: Juwan Johnson and Justin Herbert's intensifying connection]

"(Cristobal) definitely made me feel comfortable being here," said Johnson. "He kinda feels like my father... I really take it to heart that he checked in on me literally every day."

How Johnson has handled his father's passing while in Eugene

Cristobal's major impact on Johnson after his father passed

 

Talkin' with the Ducks pt.1: Juwan Johnson and Justin Herbert's intensifying connection

Talkin' with the Ducks pt.1: Juwan Johnson and Justin Herbert's intensifying connection

Welcome into a new running NBC Sports Northwest feature; Talkin’ with the Ducks. Joining us on the first edition is the largest wide receiver on Oregon’s roster, graduate transfer Juwan Johnson. The video above is part one, where we dive into Johnson and quarterback Justin Herbert’s budding relationship. 

In part two, we talk about the recent passing of Johnson’s father and how that impacted his decision to transfer to Oregon.

Herbert, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound passer with the powerful right arm and sneaky fast wheels, and Johnson, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound receiver with an advantage in size and experience, are becoming the duo to watch for next season.

You and Johnson have something in common; Herbert wows you both on the regular.

“Sometimes he throws the ball and I’m like, ‘is he really throwing this?” the Penn State graduate transfer said. “And then I’m like, ‘wow, I have the ball in my hands. He really just threw that.’”

As a new addition to the roster with the most experience on the receiving corps, Johnson has an interesting perspective on the projected top 10 NFL Draft pick in 2020. UO needs to find its next leading receiver and Johnson is looking the part.

He brings needed experience to the position: playing in 16 more games than the Ducks’ most veteran wide receiver, Schooler (21 games). Plus, his large, powerful, physical frame is unlike the other receivers currently on Oregon’s roster along with his ability to power through and over defensive backs.

In the video above, Johnson divulges that Herbert's personality is different than the common perception. Also, he answers the question, if Herbert had social media, what would his Instagram look like?

Oregon spring game: Be the fan in the know

Oregon spring game: Be the fan in the know

Do you want to be the Duck football fan in the know for the Oregon spring football game? I've got you covered. 

Saturday will be a great opportunity to see ten early enrollees from Oregon’s highest-ever rated recruiting class, plus fresh face Penn State graduate transfer wide receiver Juwan Johnson! Watch the video about for what you should be watching for. 

The roster will be split into two teams instead of the offense vs. defense format from a year ago. Rosters for the “Mighty Oregon” squad and the “Fighting Ducks” team will be unveiled soon. 

More details:

  • Admission is free.
  • Fans are asked to bring three non-perishable food items for donation to Food for Lane County. 
  • Oregon legends and Pro Football Hall of Fame members Gary Zimmerman (OL, 1980-83) and Dan Fouts (QB, 1970-72) will represent the two teams during the coin toss.
  • Fans are encouraged to arrive early and carpool as much as possible. The Autzen Stadium East parking lot will open to the public at 11:30 a.m. at a cost of $5 per vehicle.
  • Starting at 1 p.m. there will be an Easter egg hunt for children on the HDC practice fields. Fans should enter through the north gate that is closest to Martin Luther King Boulevard.
  • The men’s basketball program will be signing autographs inside Autzen Stadium on the concourse starting at 1 p.m. Commemorative autograph cards will be provided.
  • Flyover by F-15s from Oregon National Guard during the national anthem.

Meet Mycah Pittman, the Oregon freshman with "fire in his belly"

Meet Mycah Pittman, the Oregon freshman with "fire in his belly"

How can Oregon make the most of quarterback Justin Herbert’s final season as a Duck? One fresh-faced Duck receiver is working on going from starstruck to filling big shoes. As one of the highest rated receivers to sign with Oregon, freshman Mycah Pittman has made his presence felt and is already impacting the Duck offense.

The battle to replace former leading receiver Dillon Mitchell’s production (75 receptions for 1,184 yards) will be on full display Saturday in Eugene at the Oregon football spring game.

Pittman, a consensus four-star recruit and top three wide receiver from California, has been playing in the slot during spring practices with his eye on expanding his role. His speed is a major asset but his strong hands have impressed teammates and coaches.

“He’s got that swagger, he knows who he is, his potential, but he can ball too,” Jevon Holland said. “He’s resilient and he’s got fire in his belly. He’s got a lot of what we need in the receiver position and on the team, period. Especially from a young guy to push the older guys.”

Dropped passes aren’t an issue for Pittman. “Yea, you will rarely see me drop a pass,” Pittman said before correcting himself. “You wont see that. Let’s leave it at that.

“I never double catch the ball, I’ll make sure I stay after practice if I need to get it right,” Pittman said after Tuesday’s practice.  

Every day for two months, Pittman spent his hands deep in a bucket of rice, an “old school workout” exercising his hands to increase strength and grip.

Pittman already has a grasp on more than 90 percent of Oregon’s playbook. He enrolled early to get a head start on executing alignments, routes and developing a connection with Herbert. March 29 was his first day, but his Oregon career started long before that. Before and after high school, Pittman hit the books to study Oregon’s offense for a total of three hours a day. He took to the whiteboard to work on the X’s and O’s and used up five dry erase markers.

“I didn’t see any type of transition from him,” La’Mar Winston Jr. said. “He was ready to go from the first practice, first play, first catch. Strong hands, nice route runner.”

Pittman was in awe when describing catching passes from Herbert. “I caught my first pass on a little out route from Justin Herbert and I was like, ‘Yo, Justin Herbert just threw me the ball!’” Pittman said. “This is the No. 1 pick, I’ve seen this guy on TV, and he’s bigger in person. It’s pretty cool. He’s a very humble guy.”

His preparation and attention to detail has paid off. Within three weeks, Pittman has turned heads with flashy grabs from Herbert and backup quarterback Tyler Shough, elevated the play of the position group as a whole and developed a friendship with another newcomer who has already climbed the depth chart, Juwan Johnson.

Although new to the Oregon roster, Johnson has experience on his side, playing in 16 more games than the Ducks’ most veteran wide receiver, Brenden Schooler (21 games).

“He’s a great kid ultimately. He just wants to learn," said Johnson on his first impression of Pittman. “I sort of took him under my wing when he got here. He was sort of lost and eager to learn the plays. So we kind of picked up the plays together and did it that way. It was great for both of us, very beneficial. I had no idea his dad was Michael Pittman until last week.”

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound athlete from Calabasas High School has football in his blood. His father Michael Pittman was a productive NFL running back for a decade and won a Super Bowl ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mycah lived in Florida for 10 years.

When it comes to drawbacks of the freshman, the Ducks don’t have much to say. Although, Pittman says cherry jelly beans are a junk food weakness. Totally relatable.

The depth chart is open and Pittman is ready to fight for a starting spot.  He doesn’t feel pressure for Saturday, to play in Autzen Stadium with fans watching for the first time, “I am more excited when there are more people to see me."

Oregon football "hasn't had someone like" wide receiver Juwan Johnson in awhile

Oregon football "hasn't had someone like" wide receiver Juwan Johnson in awhile

When asked about graduate transfer wide receiver Juwan Johnson, his new Oregon Duck teammates can’t help but smile.

Senior offensive lineman Shane Lemieux named Johnson the scariest big play threat for next season. “He’s a big guy, who has caught some really good balls with a big body… We haven’t had someone like that in awhile.”

6-foot-4, 230-pound Johnson is stepping into a prime opportunity at Oregon and he’s already climbing the depth chart. He could be the answer to the biggest question of the 2019 football season: How can the Ducks get the most out of quarterback Justin Herbert in his final season at UO?

After arriving from Penn State, Johnson has made a strong first impression on the Ducks. His large, powerful, physical frame is unlike the other receivers currently on Oregon’s roster along with his ability to power through and over defensive backs.

Offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo’s first thought when seeing Johnson in pads at Oregon? “Wow, he was as big as I remember, bigger even in pads.”

“The thing about Juwan is how engaged he’s been,” Arroyo, who is already planning to have Johnson play multiple positions, said. “He didn’t come out as a guy who’s played a ton – which he has, he’s played a lot, he’s been in a big-time program and been in big-time games – he’s been very humble and his work ethic and the way he’s been, come early and stay late, that’s really good to see. I think that’s good for our young guys to see too.”

After only four practices, Johnson went from being a new roster addition to working with the first-team offense. During Thursday’s practice, Johnson replaced Johnny Johnson III (unknown injury) in a two receiver, two tight end package alongside wide receiver Brenden Schooler and tight ends Ryan Bay and Cam McCormick.

You may have just learned Johnson’s name this month but he has been on coach Mario Cristobal’s radar since Cristobal's coaching stint at Alabama. As Johnson grew up in in Glassboro, New Jersey, his childhood dream was to play for Oregon. From across the country he was in awe the Oregon brand, LaMichael James, Josh Huff and De’Anthony Thomas. Huff is his favorite Duck receiver, Johnson followed Huff’s career when he was with the Philadelphia Eagles for three seasons.

“My mom, at the time, was like, ‘No, that’s too far,’” Johnson said when discussing a possible future at Oregon. “Now I’m sort of a man on my own and paving my way, writing my own story. So I came out here and wanted to live out my childhood dream and play for Oregon.”

The newcomer is studying the Oregon playbook and putting work into connecting with quarterback Justin Herbert, on and off the field. The two Ducks bonded over an ‘Oheroes’ volunteer event last week, where they coached middle-schoolers.

“It’s exciting,” Johnson said of catching passes from Herbert. “He sees the field. He knows what he’s doing… We are building a relationship. I’m trying to feel him out and he’s trying to feel me out.”

Herbert is already on 2019 Heisman Trophy watch lists and, with Dillon Mitchell’s NFL departure, needs someone reliable to throw to. Letting catchable balls hit the turf was one of the main problems for Oregon’s receivers in 2018, something new wide receivers coach Jovon Bouknight will be tasked with fixing.

[READ: First Herbert, then Ionescu: The time for Oregon Duck titles is now]

Johnson is coming off a season that was plagued with his own dropped passes, something he owned up to when asked about. Bouknight has implemented a new tactic to eliminate bad habits: when a player drops a ball, they also have to drop and do 10 pushups.

Johnson’s size isn’t his only asset. He brings needed experience to the position: playing in 16 more games than the Ducks’ most veteran wide receiver, Schooler (21 games). He’s proved he can put up big numbers and play in big games; in 2017, he caught 54 passes for 701 yards and averaged 13 yards per reception. His spectacular sophomore season included a game-winning touchdown catch on fourth down as time expired at Iowa.

Johnson’s 81 receptions over his three seasons include 57 that resulted in a first down (70 percent).

"I’m here to be a leader," he said. "That’s my job here, come in and bring a leader and bring that energy to the team. I want to bring the guys up so we can win a Pac-12 championship, national championship and those sort of things."
Five Ducks on the roster have the last name Johnson, and as Juwan says, he’s still searching for his Oregon identity and nickname. Come August, could the fresh face become an Oregon household name? Will he separate himself from the other playmakers? The fight for playing time is on.

Takeaways from Oregon football Hillsboro scrimmage: changed physiques, freshmen highlights and Duck “celebrities”

Takeaways from Oregon football Hillsboro scrimmage: changed physiques, freshmen highlights and Duck “celebrities”

Oregon football loaded up the buses for a rainy drive from Eugene to Hillsboro Stadium for a half practice, half traditional 11-on-11 scrimmage in front of over 2,000 die-hard Duck fans who spent their Saturday with former Duck Marcus Mariota.

Former Heisman Trophy winner Mariota and former Duck Ifo Ekpre-Olomu supported the team from the sidelines while Oregon fans craned to get their first peek at the nation’s top recruit Kayvon Thibodeaux, among others.

It’s been four months since Oregon beat Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl and some players definitely hit the winter strength and conditioning program (Coach Cristobal calls it the "Fourth Quarter" offseason program) hard. Some of the biggest physical changes I noticed was to the offensive linemen; particularly senior Shane Lemieux and senior Jake Hanson who seem to have toned up and added lower body strength. Junior nose guard Jordon Scott, who started all 13 games last season, definitely has slimmed down. Junior tight end Cam McCormick, won the starting job last August but was injured in the season opener, appears to be 100 percent physically ready and a force to be reckoned with.

Of course it was all eyes on the newcomers, 10 early-enrollee freshmen in Oregon’s highest-ever rated recruiting class.

It was my first look at Thibodeaux, who is not your typical 18 year old. The freshman was on the first-team and is poised to make an impact this season. Freshmen wide receivers Josh Delgado and Mycah Pittman participated in returning punts with Brenden Schooler and Travis Dye. Tight end Patrick Herbert provided a highlight of the day; a touchdown catch in a one-on-one drill.

Not a freshman, but still a highlight was Penn State graduate transfer Juwan Johnson, who literally stood out among the wide receivers at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. He made some terrific catches from redshirt-freshman quarterback Tyler Shough. Shough, who did not attempt a pass last season, seems to have secured the back-up quarterback position and made some excellent passes.

The longest touchdown of the 11-on-11 scrimmage came via quarterback Justin Herbert to Darrian Felix for 50-yards that brought Oregon fans to their feet.

The Ducks have six more spring practices remaining before they host the spring game at Autzen Stadium on April 20.

It’s Juwan Johnson’s opportunity to grasp or waste

It’s Juwan Johnson’s opportunity to grasp or waste

Penn State graduate transfer Juwan Johnson is stepping into a prime opportunity at Oregon.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound veteran receiver, who announced plans to become a graduate transfer in January, committed to Oregon and will soon be catching passes from Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert. The senior is already on 2019 Heisman Trophy watch lists and, with Dillon Mitchell’s NFL departure, needs someone to throw to.  

In other words, there is a vacancy for Oregon’s next top receiver.

Wait, are you having deja vu?

Probably. The same question surrounded Oregon’s wide receivers and tight ends entering the 2018 season: Who will Herbert sling the ball to?

Last season, Wake Forest grad transfer Tabari Hines was brought in to provide a veteran presence. Expectations were high for Hines, however, he had a procedure performed on his left knee and played sparingly before announcing he'd leave the Oregon program midway through the season. Hines utilized his redshirt, transferred to N.C. State and is looking forward to a healthy final year of college football. 

“It’s a blessing itself just to have the opportunity (at Oregon)”, Hines said of Oregon’s new grad transfer Johnson. “But opportunity itself doesn’t guarantee anything without preparation”.

Hines’ advice to Johnson?

“With the amount of resources there are at Oregon, if you put them to use you should take huge strides as a player and person.”

Last season will be remembered as the year of Mitchell, who had the best individual receiving season in program history.

Johnson could be the answer in 2019. He will enroll at Oregon this summer after completing a communications degree at Penn State. He brings needed experience to the position: played in 16 more games than the Ducks’ most veteran player Brenden Schooler (21 games). His large, powerful, physical frame is unlike the other receivers currently on Oregon’s roster along with his ability to power through and over defensive backs. He’s proved he can put up big numbers; in 2017, he caught 54 passes for 701 yards and averaged 13 yards per reception.

However, proceed with caution before you write him in as Oregon’s next offensive weapon. Johnson is coming of a low production 2018 season (25 passes for 352 yards) after a lot of preseason hype (like being named a top-10 2019 NFL Draft pick). His season was plagued with dropped passes and he missed games with injuries. By Penn State’s bowl game, Johnson was demoted to second string.

Letting catchable balls hit the turf was one of the main problems for Oregon’s receivers in 2018, something new wide receivers coach Jovon Bouknight will be tasked with fixing.

[READ: The hunt it on for Oregon's next leading receiver]

Johnson isn’t the only new face vying for playing time in Oregon’s receivers room. The Ducks signed incoming freshmen Josh Delgado, Mycah Pittman, Lance Willhoite and J.R. Waters. Any of the four signees could make an impact immediately.

The fresh faces join returners Jaylon Redd, Johnny Johnson III, Brendan Schooler, Bryan Addison and Isaah Crocker. Redd gives Oregon a speed option in the slot and finished second on the team in receptions (38), yards (433) and touchdowns (5) in 2018.

Will the returners figure out how to improve production? Will there be one fresh face to become an Oregon household name in 2019?

Hines says he’s looking forward to current players on the roster who could emerge this season. Specifically he mentioned the trio of Addison, Crocker and Johnson III, who he says have been “waiting for their moment”.

The moment has arrived and Juwan Johnson is the newest (and biggest) receiver to join the fight for playing time.