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UO might have to go to Aleman

Oregon head football coach Mike Bellotti wants Ashland freshman wide receiver Cy Aleman to redshirt.

But two weeks into fall camp, Bellotti may not have that luxury because of injuries to wide receivers.

With the season opener just days away -- the Ducks play host to Michigan State Saturday -- Oregon will likely be without Ray Brust, who has a knee injury, and may get only limited play from LeCorey Collins.

More injuries might force Aleman, who will be dressed and ready to go, into action.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Aleman has already pushed ahead of several veterans in practice and, at times, has been downright dazzling.

I've had some ups and downs adjusting, but the main thing I've done is show the potential I have, says Aleman. When I'm focused, and my mind isn't on home or something else, I've had real good practices.

Says Bellotti: He's everything we thought he could be, and maybe a little more.

Aleman knows an extra year of college would help him mature, both physically and mentally, so redshirting is in his best interest. But he also would like to play before a sellout crowd on opening day.

The odds are probably against me playing, says Aleman. I understand why the coaches would like me to redshirt. But I would kind of like to play if I know I'll get other opportunities to play later this season.

That question can't be answered, yet.

If we're going to play a freshman receiver this year, Cy would be the guy, says Bellotti. We will play that by ear.

Cy has shown he's a fast, tall receiver with good hands and good instincts for the ball. He has obviously been well coached in high school. He's one of our faster receivers on the outside and a guy who can catch the ball in traffic.

Oregon senior quarterback Akili Smith, who completed 6-of-6 passes in the Ducks' final preseason scrimmage last Friday to earn the starting nod for the opener, says Aleman is ready to play.

The guy can play, says Smith. He doesn't say a lot. He just goes out and catches the ball and makes plays. He's got speed and moves. And he has glue on his hands, it seems, because he catches everything.

Oregon is expected to start senior Damon Griffin at outside receiver and junior Tony Hartley at flanker. Aleman is capable of backing up both positions.

Aleman isn't the only Southern Oregon Conference standout now with the Ducks. They recently welcomed former Grants Pass all-state linebacker Matt Smith into the fold.

Smith is immediately eligible to play three seasons. He has spent the last two years playing professional baseball, but is ready to return to football. Two seasons in pro baseball used up two years of Smith's five-year window to play Division I athletics.