Doug Brenner is a rarity of sorts when it comes to the Ducks. It has nothing to do with skill sets or voluminous hair like Troy Polamalu, and everything to do with where he’s from. And that would be … the state of Oregon!
Considering this is the University of Oregon, one would assume (incorrectly) that the team would have a lot of “home town” talent. But, when you can scout and recruit all over the nation, that isn’t the case. While the Ducks do have kids ranging far and wide (Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia), there are usually only one or two players coming from a single eastern state.
We all understand the reason for this. It’s almost impossible to get talent from the east coast because of the distance and the temptation of playing in the SEC. For those reasons, recruits are usually gathered from the states in the Pac-12. The exception would be the five each from Hawaii and Texas. Oregon contributes only 17 of 85 players from the current roster, not including the guys who signed in February. That’s roughly 20 percent. That seems fairly small when you consider the 34 guys from California – twice what Oregon has.
One of the players Oregon has to offer is Brenner. Like Keanon Lowe, Brenner hails from Portland, Oregon, and attended Jesuit High School. I grew up 30 minutes away and unknowingly watched Brenner play my alma mater every year — and crush them every year. But he was there, playing varsity all four years at Jesuit. In fact, he was the first freshman varsity starter in the school’s history.
This three-star recruit was also the sixth-best prospect in Oregon. Some listed him as the No. 11-ranked center in the nation during his recruiting. During his time playing for Jesuit, he showed his versatility by playing fullback, center and along the defensive line. His hard work earned him Second Team All-League Lineman on both sides of the ball (freshman year), Honorable Mention All-State attention in the trenches on defense (sophomore year), and Third Team All-Metro League as a defensive lineman (junior year).
His senior year was his biggest: He was named Second Team All-Metro League Center and the Offensive Player of the Year. That same year the Crusaders finished second with a 10-3 record. Brenner had a key role that year as his 6A team finished third in scoring during the regular season (41.9 avg.) and fifth in rushing (2,722 yards).
The Ducks were always Brenner’s top choice. He received an offer in September of 2012. Five days later, he committed. With his official visit, Duck starting center Hroniss Grasu served as his host. Once Brenner got to Eugene and set foot in Autzen Stadium, Grasu also became his mentor on the field. Playing center, Brenner found an invaluable role model in Grasu — a guy who will be a top draft prospect in the NFL draft.
During spring practices, Brenner and fellow teammate Jake Pisarcik asked Grasu to stay behind to work with them. Brenner redshirted his freshman year, mostly snapping on the scout team. Grasu had only great things to say about his growth and commitment this spring:
“[Brenner and Pisarcik] want to work, and they want to get better. That’s all I can ask from them, that they want to get better, do whatever it takes to get better and ask questions. It makes me happy seeing them want to get some extra work in.”
Brenner was also one of the guys who took seriously the request of the coaching staff for weight gain across the board. In a post-practice interview with KEZI 9 News, he informed them that the offensive line sat down at the end of last season and agreed to put on some weight. Brenner had one of the largest gains — almost 30 lbs. This brought his weight up to 305 lbs. With guys like Brenner on the offensive line, the Ducks are going to be even bigger and badder next year. No doubt.
Next year, Brenner looks like a real option to be Grasu’s primary backup. We look forward to whatever impact Brenner brings to the Ducks, but I know he’ll represent Oregonians proudly — no matter what.
Only 72 more days ’til kickoff!.
Top photo by Kevin Cline