Just before the 2013 spring game, tragedy struck Dwayne Stanford: a knee injury took him out for the entirety of his sophomore season. In order to take advantage of his eligible years, the only option was to redshirt. This was a heavy blow to the true freshman who was one of the lucky few to appear in all 13 games the previous season. Stanford was on the rise. He had posted 11 catches for 106 yards.
Then, he was stuck on the sidelines.
It would have been understandable for Stanford to come off the bench a little rusty after a redshirt year. However, that’s not his style. Ninety-four seconds into the first game of the season Stanford scored the first touchdown of the year, and his Duck career. Talk about starting out with a bang. Taking a year off meant only that he knew the playbook better and had more maturity on the field.
In an interview with OregonLive‘s Tyson Alger, Stanford said, “After that redshirt year it felt like [the end] was never going to come. It’s pretty exciting getting back out there.” Stanford was just itching to get back on the turf and show us what he could do. And show us he did. While the South Dakota touchdown was exciting, his second career touchdown during the Washington game was downright breathtaking. (I’d suggest turning your volume down. When we leave Autzen, it takes about a day or two for our voices to recover.)
Stanford’s impressive 6′ 5″ frame leapt through the air to catch this 16-yard touchdown reception, masterfully dodging two Washington defenders. Talking about the play with Alger, he had this to say: “I told Marcus [Mariota] to put it up to where only I can catch it. When we have the opportunity to make plays, we got to take advantage.” Being their tallest receiver, that’s a smart play.
Prior to joining the Ducks, Stanford attended Taft High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. As a junior, he posted 44 catches for 865 yards and 9 touchdowns. These numbers helped lead the Senators to the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference League Championship.
Impressive contributions as receiver caused him to be selected as the CMAC Player-of-the-Year and All-Ohio First-Team. In his final year at Taft, Stanford caught 32 passes for 720 yards and another 9 touchdowns. Once again, the four-star recruit was a member of the All-Ohio First-Team. He was also invited to play at the prestiges US Army All-American Bowl.
Stanford was well sought after, but in the end it was Oregon he decided to call home. Now he just adds his height and talent to their unbelievably brilliant receiving team. Hopefully we’ll see more of that Mariota-Stanford magic as the year proceeds. S’go Ducks!
Top photo by Kevin Cline