Everyday that goes by puts us one day closer to the Rose Bowl on January 1st, quite possibly the biggest game of the season not only for us but also for many of our Ducks’ careers. The team is taking the field in normal practice schedules just as they have done before every game this season but they are working just that much harder in hopes of outplaying and defeating the Florida State Seminoles.
The season is not over but that doesn’t mean that we can’t reflect on the 2014 season thus far! In an article on bleacherreport.com, Jason Gold goes through what he believes to be the top 10 players of the 2014 season and why these were standout and clutch players. I have to say, I don’t disagree with his picks. Here are the top five:
- Marcus Mariota. I think we all know why Mariota would be chosen as the No.1 player for the 2014 Ducks team, I mean, he is the best player in the entire nation. This young man is a player that everyone loves and adores, Ducks fan or not, for the way he presents himself not only on the field but off the field as well. Plus, he is unbelievably talented.
- Royce Freeman. Freshman offensive back, Freeman has been a powerhouse for our Ducks throughout the season. The best part is, nobody saw it coming. This season Freeman has rushed for 1,299 yards, is ranked No. 24 in the nation and has scored 16 rushing touchdowns. Writer Jason Gold states, “If this season was only the beginning for Freeman, the rest of the college football world better watch out. We may be getting an early glimpse at a future Heisman Trophy winner.”
- Erick Dargan. Senior defensive back Erick Dargan was without question the strongest and best defensive back this season for the Ducks. Dargan was named second-team All-Pac-12 and led the team in interceptions with six.
- Jake Fisher. Left tackle Jake Fisher was the most important player on the front-line this season, no doubt. I personally saw a huge difference in the way that our offense and Mariota played as Fisher suffered through his injuries earlier in the season compared to when he was back on the field again. This season Fisher’s importance and talent was recognized as he was named first-team All-Pac-12 and third-team AP All-American.
- Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. Throughout the season a variety of our key players have suffered injuries but none came as more of a shock and upset than Ekpre-Olomu’s recent knee injury in practice earlier this week. Most quarterbacks were afraid to throw to Ekpre-Olomu’s side of the field due to his efficient and aggressive play-making abilities; unfortunately, we will not be seeing him on the field again in the 2014 season.
These are players that we have watched throughout the season with great admiration and appreciation for how hard they work and what they are able to execute for the team on the field each and every game. The last five players Gold credited were: (6) DeForest Buckner, (7) Pharaoh Brown, (8) Hroniss Grasu, (9) Byron Marshall and (10) Devon Allen.
With the exception of injured players Ifo Expre-Olomu and Pharaoh Brown, I am sure we can expect to see the remaining eight players on this list truly playing their hearts out in Pasadena, CA, come January 1. Until then, they will continue to work hard in practice to the best of their ability to prepare for the Rose Bowl!
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck