EUGENE — Alex Brink got a surprise addition when he coached at Lakeridge High School last season.
Mike Irwin impressed his quarterbacks coach during one season with the Pacers.
“I was high on him and I think he can play at any level with his make-up,” said Brink, the former Sheldon and Washington State quarterback.
Irwin was slated to walk on at Boise State before making a late switch to Oregon, which has only three quarterbacks on scholarship.
“(Oregon assistant coach Marcus Arroyo) brought him to my attention and showed me some film on him and said it would be great to keep him here,” UO coach Willie Taggart said.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound quarterback is working in line with sophomore Justin Herbert, freshman Braxton Burmeister and senior Taylor Alie for the Ducks.
“Mike throws the football well,” Taggart said. “I have been impressed with him. When he gets in there, the kid doesn’t sweat or anything. He just goes out and played football.”
Irwin played his freshman season at Class 4A Crook County in Prineville and then transferred to Class 5A Mountain View in Bend, though he missed most of his junior season with a broken leg. He transferred last season to Lakeridge in Lake Oswego, which went 2-7, including a winless run through the Class 6A Three Rivers League.
“In my opinion, he was very under-recruited for the player he is,” Brink said. “He was hurt his junior year and moved and Lakeridge was not great last year. He’s a great athlete who is also very mature.”
Brink is the co-owner of EForce Performance in Lake Oswego and serves as a private instructor for quarterbacks. He said Irwin ran an offense at Lakeridge that prepared him for Oregon.
“Mike is a great athlete,” Brink said. “We did a lot of quarterback runs and zone-reads. For him, that is a great situation to step in and feel comfortable as he continues to get the playbook down.”
Brink added that Irwin has strong leadership skills in part because he is the oldest of six kids, including four brothers.
Irwin was the Intermountain Conference offensive player of the year as a sophomore when he threw for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns and ran for 720 yards and eight touchdowns for Mountain View.
He threw for 262 yards, ran for 256 and scored five touchdowns in a loss to Crater that season before he was injured in the fifth game.
Key players sit
Oregon practiced on Friday without a couple of players expected to play big roles this season.
Scott Pagano, a graduate transfer from Clemson expected to start on the defensive line, missed the first week of practice following offseason foot surgery.
“He’s getting better,” UO coach Willie Taggart said. “His foot is healing pretty good. He’s ahead of schedule now, so hopefully he’s back sooner rather than later.”
Wide receiver Dillon Mitchell missed his second practice in a row due to an illness. The sophomore is being counted on to fill the void left by Darren Carrington on the outside.
“Hopefully, we will have him back out there soon,” Taggart said.
Offensive lineman Jacob Capra also sat out practice.
Taggart has ended Oregon’s policy of not commenting on injuries during the tenures of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich.
The new coach was asked if Oregon’s lack of depth at quarterback will force the Ducks to run Justin Herbert less to keep him healthy.
“No, we don’t think about injuries,” he said. “Those things happen when they are going to happen and those are things we can’t control. If we start thinking about that, we are going to handcuff ourselves. If it happens, we have to have the next guy ready. All we think about is developing guys at that position.”
Herbert ran 58 times for 161 yards and two TDs in nine games as a freshman.
Ducks get another recruit
Oregon’s 2018 recruiting class keeps growing seemingly by the day.
The Ducks received a verbal commitment on Friday from Malcolm Lamar, a four-star defensive lineman from Seffner, Fla.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Lamar attended the program’s “Saturday Night Live” camp and is the eighth non-binding pledge the Ducks have received since the public showcase last Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
Lamar is the fourth player in the class from Florida and is a teammate of four-star Oregon wide receiver commit Warren Thompson at Armwood High.
Taggart’s 2018 recruiting class has grown to 22 known verbal commitments and is ranked among the top five by the recruiting services, including No. 1 by Scout.