Tag:Oregon Ducks
Posted on: January 14, 2012 10:22 pm
 

Darron Thomas stuns Ducks, leaving early for NFL

If the Oregon Ducks are going to successfully defend their Pac-12 crown next season they'll be doing so with a new starting backfield.

It had been expected that head coach Chip Kelly would lose LaMichael James to the NFL after this season. But Saturday night, junior quarterback Darron Thomas stunned the program with the decision to also forgo his final season of eligibility and head off to the pros.

Thomas, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 12 rated quarterback in the 2013 class, may be making a terrible decision.

The 6-3, 215 pound Thomas has put up impressive statistics in Kelly's offense. Last season he completed 62% of his passes for 2,761 yards and a sparkling touchdown to interception ratio of 33-7. Considering that Thomas also ran for 206 yards and three scores, he was among the most effective all-purpose quarterbacks in the country and played a critical role in Oregon's run to the Rose Bowl championship and No. 4 ranking. He also boasts one of the more impressive career accomplishments any college quarterback can hope to have -- having thrown for at least one touchdown in every one of his career starts (27). In 31 games over his career Thomas passed for 5,910 yards, 66 touchdowns and just 17 interceptions.

That said, Thomas on tape doesn't necessarily match his hype.

Thomas' prodution is inflated due to Oregon's aggressive scheme and explosive athletes. He averaged 8.14 yards gained each time he even attempted a pass in 2011. He flashes good touch down the seams and enough zip to complete crossing routes over the middle, he isn't the elite passer his statistics would suggest. Too many of his passes forced receivers to adjust their routes, limiting opportunities for even bigger plays. Furthermore, he did not show much improvement in his second season as a starter despite playing in a relatively simple offense.

Kelly offered a luke warm opinion on Thomas' decision.
“As in all cases, we educate our players with the information we feel will be beneficial to them throughout the process but ultimately, the decision is left up to the players,” Kelly said. “I will always support Darron in his decision and want to thank him for everything he has done for this program. He obviously has played a major role in elevating Oregon football to new heights and I wish him well in the future.”

Thomas has talent but is viewed by scouts as a significant project. That fact could push him into late portions of the draft (or worse), especially considering that he comes with off-field baggage. Remember, Thomas was the passenger with former Duck cornerback Cliff Harris on the night Harris was pulled over for speeding in a car rented by a Oregon employee. Harris was clocked at 118 miles per hour, was driving without a license and admitted to police he had been smoking marijuana. Thomas' reaction to questions from the media regarding his role in the incident falls a bit short of inspirational. 

Thomas is the second Pac-12 quarterback to attempt to fill the vacancy left when Matt Barkley made his decision to return Southern Cal. He joins Andrew Luck and Arizona State's Brock Osweiler as early entries from the conference.
Posted on: November 7, 2011 1:46 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 3:43 pm
 

Stanford may not have deep threat Owusu vs Oregon

Andrew Luck and the No. 3 rated Stanford Cardinal may not have big play wide receiver Chris Owusu in Saturday's showdown with No. 7 ranked Oregon.

Owusu was taken off the field by ambulance during the second quarter of Stanford's 38-13 victory over Oregon State November 5. Owusu absorbed a helmet to helmet hit by OSU defensive back Jordan Power Poyer and lay prone for several minutes before being loaded onto a stretcher and placed into the ambulance. He did show that he had feelings in his extremities by raising his hand for a thumbs-up as he was loaded into the ambulance. Owusu diagnosed with a concussion -- his third in the past 13 months.   

Though his numbers are rather pedestrian this season (35 receptions for 376 yards and two touchdowns), Owusu is the fastest of Stanford's wideouts and the talented receiver/returner was given a middle round grade by some scouts heading into this season. He is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 23 rated wide receiver.

Though Owusu had only scored two touchdowns via Luck passes this season, he served an important role in Stanford's offense as the deep threat that kept safeties honest. Without him, Oregon's safeties may be able to place greater focus on slowing down the Cardinal's powerful rushing attack and Stanford's talented tight ends. 

Considering that Oregon boasts the most athletic secondary Luck has faced all season long, the timing couldn't be much worse for the presumptive No. 1 overall pick and his teammates' chances at remaining undefeated.

For Owusu, the recurring concussions will certainly pose a mighty red flag to NFL teams. Though he was characterized as "fine" by his father (reached by Tom FitzGerald, a staff writer for The San Francisco Chronicle), no timetable has been announced by Stanford as to when Owusu will be able to return to the field.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 4:02 pm
 

Can scouts trust Cliff Harris?

One day after news that the top-rated senior cornerback prospect in the West had been arrested came news that the top junior cornerback on the west coast also found himself in legal hot water.

As first reported by The Oregonian's Aaron Fentress, Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris was cited Monday for multiple driving infractions, including failure to use a seat belt, have a valid driver's license or proof of insurance. The fines were enough to get Harris suspended indefinitely yet again from the Oregon program.

On the surface, Harris' infractions don't seem to be that big of a deal. After all, there have been plenty of players who have been drafted -- and many as even first round picks -- who have been accused of much more troubling crimes than Harris'.

The problem with Harris is that he doesn't appear to be learning from his mistakes.

This is the same Harris, of course, who was suspended for the Ducks' season-opener against LSU after being ticketed for driving 118 miles per hour. According to the video surveillance camera aboard the police cruiser driven by the officer who pulled him over, Harris admitted to smoking marijuana while doing so. He also did not have insurance or a valid license during this stop -- the result of racking up thousands of dollars in fines from previous infractions in the state of Oregon and California (where he was raised).

NFL teams are going to be attracted to Harris for the same reason Ducks' head coach Chip Kelly is... the kid can flat play football. Harris, one of only four consensus All-Americans in Oregon football history, led the Pac-10 with six interceptions last season. He led the entire country with 23 passes defended. Furthermore, he led the country with four punt returns for scores. Harris added a fifth non-offensive touchdown by taking one of his interceptions back for a score, as well, last season.

Despite the fact that he's been battling to get out of Kelly's doghouse for much of this season, Harris has already made an impact on the field. Though he only has nine total tackles on the year, Harris is tied for the team lead with five passes broken up, including intercepting his first pass of the season in the Ducks' biggest game (at least in the biggest game he played in) against Arizona State October 15.

While Harris is undeniably athletic, teams are going to have a hard time investing a first round pick in a player that they can't trust to stay out of trouble. More and more teams are recognizing that knuckleheads, regardless of how talented, can have a negative impact on the locker room and success on the field.

I've been a primary defender of the Oregon cornerback to keep him high on NFLDraftScout.com's rankings. Despite the fact that he's being listed as 2nd-3rd round prospect in our current rankings, I've been listing him among my Top 32.

I turned in my new Big Board to my editors just a few hours ago. For the first time this year, it did not include Harris. To earn my trust back -- and more importantly that of Chip Kelly and NFL scouts -- Harris will need to finally start to handle himself with some maturity.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 12:37 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 12:40 am
 

LaMichael James carted off field in air cast

Oregon running back LaMichael James was carted off the field with his right arm in an air cast Thursday night game against California.

The injury occured when James' arm was bent backward as he was tackled by a host of Cal defenders. The crowd hushed as they realized the Ducks' star was the injured player. James was in obvious pain as his training staff attended to him. Oregon and California players, alike, knelt in concern as 2010 Heisman finalist was driven into a tunnel in Autzen Stadium. 

James, the NCAA's leading rusher last season with 1,731 yards, had been enjoying another spectacular night. He left the field having rushed 30 times for 239 yards and a touchdown against a Cal defense that was one of the few to shut him down last year. Cal limited James to just a 3.4 yards on 29 carries last year -- a lower number than Auburn allowed in the BCS Championship game. 

Including the rushing yards he put up against Cal Thursday, James has run for 852 yards in 2011 -- or 118 yards more than the next highest rusher in the country, Pittsburgh's Ray Graham. Graham, like James, has played in five games.

Many expected James, a junior, to strongly consider leaving early for the NFL following this season.

Posted on: October 6, 2011 6:50 pm
 

Oregon CB Harris vs Cal WRs key matchup tonight

For those hoping to watch future NFL prospects in tonight's Pac-12 matchup between Oregon and California there are certainly plenty of prospects to focus on.

Oregon junior running back LaMichael James was a Heisman finalist last season and has the speed and elusiveness to contribute to any NFL team's rushing attack.

Continuing a recent tradition at Cal, the Golden Bears boast two nationally underrated front seven defenders in defensive end Trevor Guyton and inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks.

The top individual matchup in tonight's 9:00 Eastern kickoff, however, is Oregon junior cornerback Cliff Harris against Cal's playmaking duo of receivers, sophomore Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones. The game will be televised by ESPN.

Harris led the country with 23 pass breakups and the Pac-10 with six interceptions. Slim for some team's tastes, Harris' speed, quick feet, instincts and spectacular ball skills nonetheless make him one of the more exciting big play cornerbacks in the country. He's had to work to get himself back into the good graces of head coach Chip Kelly, however, after a well documented summer off the field.

As talented as Harris is, at 5-11 and 175 pounds, he'll have a tough challenge tonight against Allen and Jones, who are each listed at 6-3, 205 pounds.

Allen, a true sophomore, impressed last season catching 46 passes for 490 yards and five touchdowns. He's already nearly eclipsed these numbers this year, hauling in a team-leading 30 passes for 498 yards and three scores, including a 10-catch, 197 yard, one score effort last Saturday against Washington.

Jones is quietly gaining traction with scouts as one of the more interesting later round receivers of the 2012 draft. Possessing an intriguing combination of size and overall athleticism, he's flashed big play ability throughout his career (10 career touchdowns) and is averaging a career high 16.3 yards per reception thus far this season (on 23 catches).


Posted on: August 26, 2011 8:31 am
 

LSU/Oregon losing its luster with suspensions


The big showdown between No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 LSU that serves as the crown jewel of college football's opening Labor Day Weekend just keeps losing its luster.

Oregon's star cornerback and kick returner Cliff Harris, an All-American in just his sophomore season last year, has already been suspended for the contest. Harris, who led the country with 23 passes defended and the Pac-10 with six interceptions last season, was suspended by Ducks' head coach Chip Kelly after Harris' latest run-in with police. Harris, along with two teammates including starting quarterback Darron Thomas, was stopped by police for driving 118 miles per hour in a car loaned to him after being rented by a university official.

The receiver Harris likely would have been covering throughout much of the contest has now been suspended for the opener, as well.

Junior wideout Russell Shepard was suspended Thursday for the September 3 game at Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas and is likely to miss more time as the university seeks his reinstatement from the NCAA. Shepard was suspended, according to the university, because he broke school and NCAA violations when he discussed specifics of his interview with investigators about the Willie Lyles recruiting controversy with a teammate also scheduled to be questioned.

LSU could also lose quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who was identified by a woman outside of a club in Baton Rouge, as having kicked a man in the face during a fight, according to a police report also released yesterday.

Jefferson was one of four LSU players identified in the report.
Also interviewed by police were offensive lineman Chris Davenport, linebacker Josh Johns and wide receiver Jarvis Landry.

Police seized 49 pairs of athletic shoes from Jefferson's apartment, according to report. It is not yet known what role the shoes may have played in the fight, which occurred in the early morning hours one week ago.

While LSU head coach Les Miles has claimed that he's already begun disciplining the team for their actions, no suspensions for Jefferson or any of his teammates have yet been made public.

Should police find reason to officially charge Jefferson with a crime, a suspension from Miles could be the least of his concerns.


Posted on: January 19, 2011 1:33 pm
 

NFL officially recognizes 56 underclassmen

The NFL just released the names of the 56 underclassmen granted special eligibility to join the senior class in the player pool for the 2011 draft.

Three North Carolina players who were suspended for the entire 2010 season are included on the list. One other player who had not previously been mentioned as having declared early is Oregon defensive back Javes Lewis, a part-time starter for the Ducks who isn't likely to be drafted. 

The list of alphabetized names is provided below.

  • Adams, Darvin, WR,  Auburn
  • Austin, Marvin, DT. North Carolina
  • Ayers, Akeem , OLB, UCLA
  • Baldwin, Jon, WR, Pittsburgh
  • Bowers, Da'Quan, DE, Clemson
  • Brown, DeAndre, WR, Southern Mississippi
  • Burton, Brandon, DB, Utah
  • Casey, Jurrell, DT, Southern California
  • Clay, John, RB, Wisconsin
  • Claytor, Nick, T, Georgia Tech
  • Cobb, Randall, WR, Kentucky
  • Dareus, Marcell, DE, Alabama
  • Doss, Tandon, WR, Indiana
  • Evans, Darren, RB, Virginia Tech
  • Fairley, Nick, DT, Auburn
  • Gabbert, Blaine, QB, Missouri
  • Green, A.J., WR. Georgia
  • Gurley, Tori, WR, South Carolina
  • Guy, Lawrence, DT, Arizona State
  • Hamler, Jamel, WR, Fresno State
  • Harper, Jamie, RB, Clemson
  • Harris, Brandon, DB, Miami  
  • Hill, Will, DB, Florida
  • Houston, Justin, LB, Georgia
  • Hynoski, Henry, RB, Pittsburgh
  • Ingram, Mark, RB, Alabama
  • Jones, Julio, WR, Alabama
  • Keiser, Thomas, LB, Stanford
  • Leshoure, Mikel, RB, Illinois
  • Lewis, Dion, RB, Pittsburgh
  • Lewis, Javes, DB, Oregon
  • Little, Greg, WR, North Carolina
  • Liuget, Corey, DT, Illinois
  • Mallett, Ryan, QB, Arkansas
  • Moore, Rahim, DB, UCLA
  • Newton, Cam, QB, Auburn
  • Parr, Zane, DE, Virginia
  • Peterson, Patrick, DB, Louisiana State
  • Quinn, Robert, DE, North Carolina
  • Ridley, Stevan, RB, Louisiana State
  • Rodgers, Jacquizz, RB, Oregon State
  • Rudolph, Kyle, TE, Notre Dame
  • Sands, Robert, DB, West Virginia
  • Sash, Tyler, DB, Iowa
  • Siliga, Sealver, DT, Utah
  • Smith, Aldon, DE, Missouri
  • Smith, Torrey, WR, Maryland  
  • Smith, Tyron, T, Southern California  
  • Tarrant, Jerrard, DB, Georgia Tech
  • Todman, Jordan, RB, Connecticut
  • Vereen, Shane, RB, California
  • Watt, J.J., DE, Wisconsin
  • Wilkerson, Muhammad, DT, Temple
  • Williams, Aaron, DB, Texas
  • Williams, Ryan, RB, Virginia Tech
  • Wilson, Martez, LB, Illinois
 
As always, for the best in NFL draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com
Posted on: November 2, 2010 2:12 pm
 

Blount, Suh winners in competitive Week for Rooks

Just as this past weekend proved to be a very difficult one in determing the senior Prospect of the Week, Sunday's slate of NFL games featured several noteworthy performances from rookies.

No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford played very well in leading the Rams to their fourth win of the season and sole possession of second place in the very winnable NFC West division. Bradford completed a career high 78.1% of his passes for 191 and two touchdowns (against zero interceptions) to beat Carolina.

Kansas City safety Eric Berry, my reigning Defensive Rookie of the Week, was even more impressive Sunday against the Bills than he was against the Jaguars on October 24. Berry posted a career-high 10 tackles and his 4th quarter interception ended a potentially game-winning drive by the Bills in the 4th quarter. The Chiefs, 5-2 and atop the AFC West, won in overtime.

Tampa wideout Mike Williams caught four passes for 105 yards, including an impressive 47-yard touchdown in an exciting 38-35 come from behind win over the Arizona Cardinals.

In the end, however, the continued dominance of Detroit's Ndamukong Suh and resurgence of former Oregon standout LaGarrette Blount stole the show.

Suh, who earned Prospect of the Week honors earlier in the year, may have enjoyed his greatest NFL game so far Sunday in Detroit's win over the Washington Redskins. Suh recorded five tackles, including two tackles for loss, two sacks and returned a fumble 17 yards for his first NFL touchdown. Suh now has 6.5 sacks through seven games. His mark ties him for 8th in the NFL and leads all defensive tackles. 

Blount rushed for 120 yards and two scores -- including the game-winner -- against the Cardinals. The bruising runner showcased the power and surprisingly nimble feet that had earned him high grades from NFL scouts prior to the infamous meltdown in which he punched a Boise State player and was suspended from the Oregon football team.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com