What do Charles Nelson (above), Devon Allen, and Royce Freeman all have in common? Well, besides being freak-of-nature athletes, they’re all freshmen. Although there are many more freshmen players on the team that are out there making their impact, these three have been the cream of the crop. Starting withn Allen, the track star who plays football in his free time, Allen leads Oregon with six touchdown receptions and is second on the team in receptions and receiving yards. Oregon knew that once Bralon Addison went down for the season, someone would have to step up.
This Sunday I got a chance to talk to Head Coach Mark Helfrich at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex. Helfrich attributed Devon’s immediate rise to stardom to Keanon Lowe. Helfrich mentioned how Lowe has helped with all the young guys, saying, “A huge, huge amount of credit has to go to Keanon for coaching them up and getting them ready to play.” Helfrich then went on to specify how Lowe has helped Allen, especially. He said, “[Keanon]’s coaching a guy to take balls away from him. He’s coaching a guy to play his position better than he does.” Obviously this is not an easy task, but it seems to be paying great dividends for Oregon Football.
Helfrich went on to praise the other freshmen, Nelson and Freeman. It goes without saying how big of a part Freeman has played in our offense this year, I mean the guy leads the Oregon team in every rushing statistic available by a mile. What Coach pointed out though is that he is still young. Heflrich mentioned during the game ”One time he went the wrong way.” He jokingly said, “That tends to hurt the efficiency of that play.” Although as fans we may forget sometimes, Royce is still young and, as scary as this may be, he’s got a lot of room to improve and develop.
The guy Helfrich seemed to be most excited about, though, was Nelson. Nelson returned a punt for a TD, picked up some great blocks, and even gained 35 yards on the ground. When asked to describe how he felt Nelson performed, Helfrich said, “That was just a rare football performance on Friday night. He played fullback, tailback, and receiver on offense.”
Helfrich knows that as good as the Ducks are now, they’re going to need a lot of up and coming talent to help them stay among CFB’s elite. Personally, I think he shouldn’t be all that worried.
Top photo by Craig Strobeck