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Ducks' recruits fill Texas-sized role

UO: Antics get national attention


by: COURTESY OF JOHN LARIVIERE - Oregon Ducks receiver Josh Huff celebrates one of his three touchdown catches against Oregon State in the Civil War game at Autzen Stadium.Mike Bellotti once said that the Oregon Ducks could not recruit and land the best players from the state of Texas, because of the competition from the Texas Longhorns, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and on and on.

His then-offensive coordinator who recruited the state of Texas, Chip Kelly, begged to differ, defiantly saying: Why not?

An argument could be made that the O-coordinator/head coach Kelly and other UO assistants had some help in landing recruits from the Long Star State — see: Willie Lyles — but the Ducks have benefitted from the long list of Texans on the roster in recent years. Running LaMichael James and QB Darron Thomas became pivotal players for the Ducks, and receivers Josh Huff and Bralon Addison star on the UO team heading to the Alamo Bowl, Dec. 30 in San Antonio, Texas, against ... guess who? The Texas Longhorns.

UO has seven players from Texas, and natives Lache Seastrunk and Tre Carson transferred to Baylor and Texas A&M, respectively.

Could the Longhorns have benefitted from landing some of the guys UO recruited and rode to BCS bowls? Probably, but Huff, from Houston, says the Longhorns shied away from

the guys who decided to go to Oregon.

“That (Texas) is where I wanted to go, that was my dream school since I was little,” says Huff, who also was recruited by Texas Christian. “When they finally came to a game, I put on a performance that I thought was good enough to get them to offer me and (recruiter Major Applewhite) came back and said I wasn’t good enough. Ever since then, I’ve been taking everything personally. 

“I’m going to do my best to make them regret their decision. ... It hurt a lot. I always have them in the back of my mind, to let them know I’m going to outwork their five-star recruits. I’m not the only guy — Bralon, Torrodney (Prevot), Chance (Allen), LaMichael and Darron, it just goes on and on. We came out here to start a Texas pipeline. We’ve done a great job so far, and (the University of) Texas continues to miss out on guys like that.”

Helfrich says Oregon has feasted on recruits in Texas.

“Texas has been great to us in recruiting,” he says. “It’s a great place to grow up and play high school football. They have a lot of little programs that can compete with anybody.”

n Oregon had trouble scoring in losses to Stanford and Arizona, but the Ducks aren’t having much trouble racking up the bad publicity points.

Cornerback Troy Hill and Erick Dargan, were suspended for the Civil War game, and Hill was arrested and arraigned this week on misdemeanor charges of menacing and criminal mischief. On paper, Hill’s case appears similar to what James went through in 2010, in that Hill’s incident involved a close female friend.

Hill has been suspended indefinitely. His troubles came shortly after tight end Pharaoh Brown was suspended for the Alamo Bowl, and others disciplined, for their part in a snowball mob scene against a motorist that went viral.

Other newsmaking events of 2013: Several outrageous comments by defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti (including ripping WSU coach Mike Leach), the Colt Lyerla case (suspended/arrested), De’Anthony Thomas promising 40 or more points against Stanford, Thomas and Huff saying the Ducks weren’t interested in playing in the Rose Bowl and then the bad loss at Arizona.

n For a team that fancied itself a national championship contender, a date with a four-loss, unranked team in a non-BCS bowl game would appear to be anticlimatic.

Oregon (10-2) plays Texas (8-4) in the Alamo Bowl, 3:45 p.m. PT Dec. 30 in San Antonio, and at least quarterback Marcus Mariota believes that the Ducks will be prepared and motivated to play — intangibles that will surely rest on the shoulders of Helfrich and his staff.

“It’s an honor and blessing,” Mariota says. “We feel very privileged to be part of the Alamo Bowl.”

n Oregon sports a lot of players who played in the U.S. Army All-American Game throughout the years at the Alamo Bowl, including De’Anthony Thomas.

“I’m very excited to go back to the Alamo Bowl,” he says. “I played in the San Antonio Arena before, so it’s great to play on the offensive side. When I went out there, I was on the defensive side. I had a pretty good game, so I’m looking forward to having a good game on the offensive side.”

n Texas, which averages nearly 200 yards per game rushing, will try to run the ball with running backs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron.

The Ducks got run over against Stanford and Arizona and, of all teams, Oregon State, one of the country’s worst rushing teams.

“We’re working on our fundamentals,” linebacker Derrick Malone says. “That’s what the game comes down to is fundamentals, getting in the right position, hands, pad level, things like that — for us (on defense), it’s been tackling. Teams around the nation win and lose games based upon how they execute their fundamentals.”

Says Helfrich, of the run defense: “Not good enough. That’s maybe the easiest way to put it. Some of it we can scheme it a little bit better, some of it is tackling, some of it is trying to do somebody else’s job. But all together, we need to be better.

“(Texas has ) a couple of big tailbacks, big physical guys. Malcolm Brown is a big physical guy, and his hometown is San Antonio, so he’ll probably be even more excited to play. I don’t think there are too many secrets of what their approach is going to be initially, they’re going to show up and make us stop them.”

Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti says, of the run defense: “I don’t think it’s broken.”

n True freshman Johnny Mundt was handed the starting tight end spot after Pharaoh Brown played too hard in the snow.

“I approach every game the same,” he says. “If I get in, I’m going to give it my all and know all my assignments.”

n Huff and defensive tackle Taylor Hart have been invited

to the Senior Bowl, Jan. 25 in

Mobile, Ala.