Saturday will be bittersweet, for it’ll be the last time that the senior class will get to take the field at a raucous Autzen Stadium.
For those of you keeping track at home, you’ll note that 15 of the 17 seniors are redshirt guys, and almost all of them were just cutting their teeth with the program when Oregon played Auburn in the BCS title game. (Of the 17 seniors on the team, only defensive back Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and offensive tackle Jake Fisher didn’t redshirt.) The Ducks have gone 55-7 with three BCS Bowl game appearances since the likes of Hroniss Grasu, Derrick Malone, Tony Washington, and Keanon Lowe stepped on campus.
The Ducks are poised to play in the inaugural College Football Playoff, and this season could end up being the greatest season the Ducks have ever had. Oregon wouldn’t be where they are today without this special class of seniors.
Ladies and gentlemen, Oregon’s senior class:
DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
OL Jake Fisher
LB Isaac Ava
RB Kenny Bassett
DB Erick Dargan
RB Ayele Forde
LB Mike Garrity
OL Hroniss Grasu
DB Troy Hill
WR Keanon Lowe
WR Jonathan Loyd
LB Derrick Malone Jr.
DB Dior Mathis
PK Eric Solis
OL Hamani Stevens
LB Grant Thompson
LB Tony Washington
*QB Marcus Mariota (RS Junior)
Each of these players has been instrumental in Oregon’s success, and I’d like to take some time shine some light on the Ducks’ brightest stars as their final appearance in Autzen Stadium is upon us.
Ekpre-Olomu: The All-American defensive back would have very likely been a Top-10 pick in last year’s NFL draft had he decided to go pro. Epkre-Olomu has been the heart and soul of Oregon’s secondary for the past three seasons.
Fisher: You could credit Fisher with potentially saving Oregon’s season. The offensive line was in shambles while Fisher was out, but since his return they’ve returned to the dominant force that we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing. He appeared in all 13 games as a true freshman, and he’s been a starter since his sophomore season.
Dargan: Dargan is Oregon’s leading tackler and leads the Pac-12 in interceptions with five. He was second-team all Pac-12 in 2013.
Grasu: Grasu has been the leader of the Ducks offensive line for past four seasons. He’s a two time All-American, and was a first team All-American last season.
Lowe: Lowe has started since 2012 and is the most experienced receiver on the team. Oregon came into the season very inexperienced at the wide receiver position and Lowe has been credited with mentoring the young receiver core.
Malone Jr.: He does a little bit of everything for Oregon’s defense, and can always be trusted when called upon. He led the Ducks in tackles with 105 in the 2013 season.
Mariota: Sure he’s not technically a senior, but this Saturday is likely the last time he’ll grace Autzen Stadium with his presence. I could sit here and gush about the guy until the end of time, but we don’t have all day.
Thanks for the memories, Duck senior class.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline