It feels like Josh Huff has been a Duck for much longer than four years.
Since the beginning of his true freshman season in 2010, Huff has been an exceptional playmaker. In his four seasons as a lethal offensive weapon, he has done as much for Oregon Duck football as anyone. Capping Oregon’s meteoric rise to the top of the national standings, his career culminated in his heroic performance last weekend against Oregon State.
The senior from Houston has done it all during his career wearing the Green and Yellow. He has caught, carried, returned, overcome injuries and, perhaps most effectively, blocked. In fact, as many Oregon fans will tell you, Huff is arguably the best blocking receiver in the country.
During all of the huge runs by LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, De’Anthony Thomas and Marcus Mariota over the past four seasons, Huff is on the outside (often off screen) drive-blocking his man away from the play. His exceptional athleticism makes him dangerous with the ball in his hands, but his stunning strength allows him to help the offense dominate in the run game.
Now Huff is on the brink of making history — After hauling in an incredible nine passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns in the Civil War, he also has a total of 1,036 receiving yards on the season.
Believe it or not, that makes Huff only the second Oregon receiver to eclipse 1,000 yards since Chip Kelly brought his offensive game plan to Eugene in 2007, the other being Jeff Maehl in 2010 with 1,076 yards.
In fact, Huff and Maehl are now the only Oregon wideouts to record at least 850 yards in a season over that same span (though Bralon Addison, who currently has 842 receiving yards himself, will likely achieve that milestone in whatever Bowl game Oregon plays in).
Huff’s 2013 numbers are among the best ever recorded by an Oregon receiver in a single season. Bob Newland currently holds the single-season yardage record for the Ducks with 1,123 yards, back in 1970. Huff’s average of 86 yards per game this season puts him almost exactly at that mark if extrapolated through Oregon’s remaining game.
Even if he does not reach Newland’s mark, Huff’s 2013 campaign has been exceptional in other ways as well.
His 11 touchdowns put him tied at No. 10 in the nation, joining Maehl again as the only other Oregon receiver to record more than 10 receiving scores in a season in school history.
Cristen McLemore, Tony Hartley, Demetrius Williams, and Lavasier Tuinei each recorded 10 TD receptions in a single season, but only Maehl (12) and Huff (11) have surpassed that number in a single year.
This number feels less surprising when one stops and thinks about just how many huge plays Huff has made during his time at Oregon. As a tribute to Huff, who has only one game left in a Ducks uniform, let’s take a look back at some of the career highlights of the man who has done so much for Oregon football.
In 2010, the Ducks were off to a 10-0 start and had their eyes on the national title game. However, they still needed to get through Oregon State and a ranked Arizona team. Oregon started slowly against the Wildcats, and was down 14-19, at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
That is, until Darron Thomas ran a wide option with Josh Huff out of the backfield. Though the pitch was behind Huff, he hauled it in with ease and demonstrated tremendous vision, gashing the defense with an 85-yard touchdown run. The Ducks never looked back and made it to that national title game.
Huff struggled with injuries early on in the 2011 season, but came on in a big way against Stanford. Up only six points in the third quarter, Oregon needed to make a play to extend its lead. Huff ran a beautiful route and Thomas found him wide open around midfield.
The electrifying wide receiver proceeded to shake two defenders in the open field and take the ball in for a 59-yard score.
Huff has twice recorded three touchdowns in a single game. The first came in 2012 when he did it against California. Oregon was struggling to get the offense going in Berkeley until a third-quarter Boseko Lokombo interception gave the Ducks great field position.
From there, Marcus Mariota hit Huff, who made a beautiful move on the safety to cruise into the end zone and give the Ducks a 31-17 lead that they continued to extend for the rest of the game.
The second time Huff reached the three-score mark came this past weekend in the Civil War. After two tough losses in the past three weeks, many questioned Oregon’s motivation in this game.
However, on his senior night, the Houston native came through yet again, posting three touchdowns, the most significant of which came on a slant to take the lead in the game’s final minute. This performance gave Oregon its sixth straight win in the Civil War, a huge accomplishment for the program.
It will be extremely hard to see Huff go. As a staple of the Oregon offense for the past four years, the athletic playmaker has changed countless games in the Ducks’ favor. As talented of a blocker as he is a receiver, Huff’s talent will be missed more than many realize.
Now he sits on the brink of making history yet again, should he have another great performance in the team’s bowl game. Regardless of whether or not he can accomplish this feat, Duck fans will miss him dearly. We thank him for his countless contributions to the team we love so much, and wish him the best of luck in the NFL.