Oregon suffered its first major setback of the 2014 season in its second week of spring practice.
Aaron Fentress of CSNNW.com reported on Thursday that wide receiver Bralon Addison had suffered a torn ACL. KEZI first reported that Addison had sustained an unspecified "non-contact" left knee injury on Wednesday.
Possibly losing Addison for the entire campaign further clouds the Ducks' receiving situation. The Ducks have also lost leading wide receiver Josh Huff and multipurpose back De'Anthony Thomas, quarterback Marcus Mariota's favorite targets in 2013 and 2012, respectively.
Addison was primed to be a breakout star in the Oregon passing attack, coming off a sophomore campaign of 61 receptions for 890 yards.
Oregon had another scare at receiver when redshirt freshman Darren Carrington left last Friday's workouts "visibly upset," according to Andrew Greif of The Oregonian:
WR Darren Carrington just left practice visibly upset, with a trainer holding a towel over his right hand.— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) April 4, 2014
We had kind of an injury report from Helfrich on WR Darren Carrington,who hurt wrist last week. "He'll be back soon enough"— Steve Mims (@SteveMims_RG) April 9, 2014
Carrington is just one high-potential candidate with little or no in-game experience vying for a spot in the receiving rotation.
Jalen Brown, a 4-star prospect in the Ducks' 2014 signing class, is an early enrollee. He capitalized on his opportunity Wednesday and made a grab in traffic, per Rob Moseley of GoDucks.com. Dwayne Stanford has also earned praise for his performance in spring practices.
The receiving unit also welcomed reinforcement in the form of Johnathan Loyd, a 5'8" point guard on the Ducks basketball team. Loyd joined the team Monday.
Helfrich said, via KEZI, that Loyd's friendship with wide receiver Keanon Lowe may have sparked the point guard's interest in returning to the gridiron. He last played football at prep powerhouse Las Vegas Bishop Gorman.
Helfrich added that Loyd can work his way into a contributing role:
He’s giving great effort…He’s got that great smile on his face we’ve come to know so much on the basketball court. Start with that, and you’ve got a chance [to contribute]...His athleticism and skill set fits a lot of slots on the football field. He was a great high school football player. He’s not doing anything else, might as well come out.
Loyd is reunited with former basketball teammate Arik Armstead, who opted not to return to the hardwood this season so he could focus on football. A 5-star recruit in 2012, Armstead has yet to break out at the college level.
There are rumblings of Armstead moving to the offensive line. Even Helfrich said offensive line coach Steve Greatwood is trying to recruiting Armstead, via The Oregonian.
But in an interview with The Oregonian, Armstead made it clear that he intends to take his performance to the next level on the defensive side:
I'm a defensive lineman now, that's what I focus on. They try to joke around and play with me and try to get me to switch over but I'm a defensive lineman...[T]hat's what I'm passionate about. I feel like whatever I'm passionate about I'm going to be the best at that and, you know, this is what I chose to do with my life so I'm going to give it all I can.
Oregon certainly needs more help on the defensive line than it does on the offensive line. While the offensive front returns four starters from 2013, the defensive line must replace Taylor Hart, Wade Keliikipi and Ricky Havili-Heimuli.
The defensive line may be getting support in the form of 6'3", 315-pound and 3-star recruit Ratu Mafileo, however. Mafileo told Justin Hopkins of 247Sports that he received academic clearance from the NCAA over the weekend, making way for his signing with the program.
Mafileo is the nephew of Haloti Ngata, one of the top defensive talents to come out of Eugene, Ore., in program history.
More Dual-Sport Ducks
Loyd is in good company as a two-sport athlete in the Oregon football ranks. Cornerback Dior Mathis and wide receiver Devon Allen are splitting their time between spring practices and Oregon's track team, on which both are sprinters.
The duo helped Oregon to a 114-47 defeat of Arizona in a dual meet Saturday. Mathis finished third in the 100 meters, per GoDucks.com editor Rob Moseley.
Dior Mathis takes third in the 100 meters in 11.10 seconds at the Oregon-Arizona dual meet. #GoDucks— Rob Moseley (@DuckFootball) April 5, 2014
Allen explained the process of tackling two sports simultaneously to The Daily Emerald: "I have hard track days and hard football days back to back. But it wasn’t too bad. I got into the treatment room on Friday night and then Saturday morning try to get my legs back, so that felt pretty good."
Mariota's Pro Prep
Mariota may have been a first-round selection in next month's NFL draft had the quarterback foregone his remaining eligibility. With another year captaining the Ducks offense, he can ensure his spot on draft day in 2015.
He is already making strides in that direction, adding a little NFL twist this week by taking snaps from under center.
"It's stuff that will help me get prepared for the future as well, little things that can help me," Mariota told The Oregonian. "It wouldn’t hurt to get ready."
Eleven is the number of games Helfrich won in his first season as Oregon's head coach. It's also his spot on Athlon Sports' ranking of Pac-12 coaches. Helfrich is ahead of only Cal's Sonny Dykes.
Greif says Helfrich offered only a smile when Grief asked him about the ranking:
After Mark Helfrich's presser today I asked, did you know Athlon ranked you the Pac-12's 11th-best coach? He just grinned and smiled.— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) April 4, 2014
Spring Scouting Opportunity
The only two teams to defeat Oregon in 2013—Arizona and Stanford—host their spring games Saturday. Both will appear on Pac-12 Network at 4 p.m. ET in a split broadcast. Regional channels are airing the games in their entirety.
Of interest to Oregon is Stanford's running back situation. The Ducks struggled slowing Cardinal running back Tyler Gaffney in their November 2013 meeting, and his ability to pound out yards contributed to Oregon's 26-20 loss.
"Every day, somebody does something special,'' Stanford head coach David Shaw told Wilner. "It's not a competition so much as a showcase."