Oregon Ducks 'don't anticipate any issues' getting Vernon Adams Jr. or Jonah … – OregonLive.com
EUGENE — When quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. moved to Oregon last week, he said he wasn’t all that worried that some unfinished business remained at his old home, Eastern Washington University, before he could enroll as a Duck and compete for the starting QB job.
Neither is the man who soon expects to officially be Adams’s coach.
“We don’t anticipate any issues with that,” said Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich on Tuesday.
The program has earned that sense of confidence: Every player who signed as part of an Oregon football recruiting class from 2010-14 qualified for enrollment.
Adams, a graduate transfer who can play immediately this fall in his final year of eligibility, and junior college linebacker Jonah Moi, who was one of 22 recruits to sign a letter of intent with Oregon in February, remain the only two new Ducks yet to enroll with the university but Helfrich, addressing the players generally because they aren’t officially members of the team, doesn’t expect any “hiccups” with getting either in uniform in time for the start of fall camp practices Aug. 10.
According to Adams, the All-America and three-year starter for the Eagles at the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision level, his last remaining hurdle before enrolling is passing a math class.
The sooner Adams and Moi arrive the earlier they can join their teammates in summer classes — studying academic textbooks and the Oregon playbook both — and begin their “indoctrination” in Oregon’s player-run summer workouts, which the UO staff consider invaluable.
“This time of year we really rely on our culture to get better, to get everybody improved in the summer,” Helfrich said. “Not just maintain, not just survive. And their leadership is what make that happen. As we left them right before their finals week and ‘dead week’ I thought we were in a very good place.
“… The more they’re around each other and they work, they see the value of looking over and going, if I’m the backup right guard and I see (All-Pac-12 running back) Royce Freeman working, I believe in that guy and vice versa. … The chemistry starts now. That’s a huge thing.”
In what was Helfrich’s final meeting with reporters before stepping away for summer vacation, the third-year coach discussed a range of topics, from recruiting legislation to where graduate transfer Matt Hegarty, of Notre Dame, will play on an offensive line with little experience at center.
— Hegarty, who is enrolled, is likely to begin learning Oregon’s blocking system by narrowing his focus initially to center, where he is a front-runner to succeed four-year starter Hroniss Grasu. But Hegarty, who played tackle and guard at Notre Dame, will need to learn those positions, as well, Helfrich said.
— Helfrich didn’t offer an updated timetable on the injury recoveries by major contributors such as receiver Devon Allen, tight end Pharaoh Brown or left tackle Tyler Johnstone.
Brown suffered a gruesome leg injury in November and even took off the winter academic term to focus on his rehab, which required multiple surgeries in Salt Lake City and his hometown of Cleveland. But he has walked without the aid of crutches since February.
“No idea,” Helfrich said of Brown. “We try not to ever set a parameter either way on that. Guys in general end up way ahead of the curve in general when you approach it that way. I anticipate (Brown) to be fantastic when he’s back out there.”
— Coaches have yet to decide the best position for Charles Nelson, with Helfrich calling UO coaches’ proverbial “wrestling match” over the Florida speedster’s services “a good problem.” Nelson, a sophomore, was such a valuable contributor as a true freshman at defending and returning kicks and punts that he eventually carved out a role as an all-purpose offensive player, where he averaged 12.5 yards every time he touched the ball. But he practiced in the spring at cornerback because Oregon’s secondary is depleted following the graduation of three starters.
— Helfrich said Oregon has yet to hear back from the NCAA regarding its appeal of receiver Darren Carrington’s half-season ineligibility. Carrington failed a drug test last winter and missed the College Football Playoff national championship game as a result. The punishment for failing an NCAA-mandated drug test is missing “at least the first 50 percent of regular-season contests or dates of competition in the season following the positive test,” according to college sports’ governing body. But a successful appeal could earn Carrington “complete relief” from any further penalty.
— Had 10 commissioners of FBS conferences approved last week an early signing period of December for high school recruits — the vote was ultimately tabled for a year — Helfrich would have been in favor of the proposal. Ultimately, he’d like to move official visits up from the fall of a recruit’s senior season to the previous June, at the end of his junior season.
That way, he believes, the NCAA could take pressure off recruits who must travel during their high school seasons and also curb a gray area where some prep coaches have solicited extra payments to coach a university’s summer camp — the practice is allowed by the NCAA, but coaches must in general be paid the same amount — as a way of ensuring a prized recruit takes part in the camp, too.
“If you take the month of June and you have official visits, you eliminate any impropriety that takes place,” Helfrich said. “We didn’t get some kids on campus this summer because we didn’t pay their coaches. That’s a fact. There’s other places that they get paid an enormous talent fee, they must be great coaches for where they’re going to coach, and you eliminate that.”
— Don’t expect the Ducks to get rid of their uptempo spread-option offense nor their 3-4 principles on defense. Just as it does every season, Oregon will adjust its strategies based on its strengths, Helfrich said.
But in an offense like Oregon’s, which asks its quarterback to do so much reading the defense as both a running and passing threat, any offseason adjustments will hinge heavily on a player like Adams being eligible.
At Eastern Washington, Adams proved to be a fearless quarterback by passing for 110 touchdowns, rushing for 11 more and leading only the fourth upset by an FCS school of an FBS top-25 ranked team when the Eagles stunned Oregon State in 2013.
He doesn’t figure to take anyone by surprise playing on a much bigger stage at Oregon, which is expected to be ranked among the nation’s top-10 teams when preseason polls are released in August.
Count his future coach as someone else who doesn’t expect any surprises from Adams in the meantime.