If a picture is worth a thousand words, I should stop typing right now and just post a pictorial of Josh Huff’s Oregon football career. With nary another word, it might win me a Pulitzer in the sports writing category — if there is such an honor. Put it this way, no Oregon player from 2010 through 2013 graced my desktop more often than No. 1.
For starters the guy looked like he was cut from granite. A Michelangelo sculpture in Nikes. He was/is extremely fit without being the overly-muscled caricature that some athletes become after too many hours in the weight room. No one looked better in the Ducks’ uber stylin’ Nike Pro Combat uni than Josh Huff, out of Nimitz High School in Houston. And then the lights came on, the cameras came out and Josh Huff flashed.
If I didn’t have these images saved on my Mac’s hard drive, they’d be burned into my memory for posterity anyway. There was Huff in Storm Trooper white sprinting away from a hapless, prostrate Trojan in the L.A. Coliseum – a Cal Golden Bear tackling air as Huff high steps magnificently beyond his futile reach – Huff hurdling a Tennessee defender who didn’t volunteer to be posterized like this — and finally, his unforgettable, falling back in the end zone touchdown grab in the waning seconds of the Civil War that some might argue saved a season.
Currently my desktop features Huff frozen in flight, spread eagle, ball clutched in one white-gloved hand while the other is outstretched to break his fall into the Alamo Bowl end zone. It was Oregon’s only offensive touchdown of the game. Thanks in no small part to Huff, I’ll remember the Alamo Bowl.
Alas, my Wallpaper Wonder is off to the NFL. Thanks for the memories, Josh.
But who will take his place as the next most-photogenic subject on the Oregon roster? Who else has that athleticism, grace and intricately-chiseled physique to look artful even when awkwardly falling on his back? Oregon is a speed team and that means lots of athletic skill guys — lots of guys who look good in track singlets. Here are the contenders as I see them for “Heir Apparent to Josh Huff on My Desktop” —
Bralon Addison. The best Bralon I’ve seen catching the rock since Braylon Edwards. And he’s probably the closest body double on the team to Josh Huff. Remove one of the numerals from his No. 11 jersey and the junior-to-be looks very similar. The former all-state quarterback from Missouri City, Texas, is magical with the ball in his hands, whether he’s hauling in a pass or returning a kick. A 2013 honorable mention All-Pac 12 selection, Addison is poised to add to his Oregon resume next season.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. I think he spurned the NFL just so he could own my desktop in 2014. Ekpre-Olomu possesses the hops to achieve rarified air at the snap of the camera, which looks killer on pass breakups and acrobatic picks. He looks a tad slight compared to some (not all) prototypical NFL DBs, but make no mistake: he’s going to cash some really fat paychecks someday very soon.
Thomas Tyner. The Portland native’s high school career was the stuff of legends. What – 643 yards and 10 touchdowns in a single game? Is that even possible in a video game? I’ll have to ask my son, Eric. Tyner is fast, fast, fast. And I’m not certain, but I think there’s a real correlation between running fast and looking fantastic when the camera shutter freezes a player for posterity — and my desktop wallpaper.
Keanon Lowe. Hey, another Portland guy! Apparently the state with the modest people population, but impressive population of trees, grows some stellar prep talent, too. The three-year starter out of Jesuit High School has the work ethic and “team first” attitude that offensive coordinator (and former wide receivers coach) Scott Frost loves. Lowe is equally adept at blocking a DB to spring a long run or making a full extension, fingertip snare in the back of the end zone. Either way, he’s a candidate.
Byron Marshall. At 5-10 and 205 pounds, the returning 1,000-yard rusher is built low to the ground, yet high on my list. Great lower body strength is another key attribute that helps in achieving favorite desktop status, and Marshall has that. He seems ready to spring at any moment, whether it’s off a pile of tacklers on the ground or through a crease in the line. Marshall’s mojo packs a pictorial punch.
Well, hey, that’s my leading five, but I’ve left a lot of wallpaper-worthy possibilities off my list, including known entities such as Dior Mathis, Erick Dargan and Ayele Forde (for the hair alone!). And lesser known, up-and-comers such as Darren Carrington, Juwann Williams, the Robinson twins, the Amoako twins and Devon Allen.
What do you think? Who would you recommend taking Josh Huff’s place in 2014? Have your take below.
Top photo by Kevin Cline