Benjamin decides not to play football
EUGENE — It’s one and done for Benjamin
Dwayne Benjamin has apparently ended his fooball career at Oregon after less than one week.
The senior who turned out for practice Monday after completing his second basketball season at Oregon, indicated Wednesday on Twitter he would not continue to play football for the Ducks.
“Naw I’m not playing,” he wrote after Aaron Fentress of Comcast Sports Northwest asked if he was still playing football.
Benjamin added the decision was for “certain reasons I will let people know.”
Benjamin played football during high school in Louisiana before focusing on basketball in college. He played two years in junior college before joining the Ducks for two seasons.
During the NCAA Tournament, Benjamin said he had an interest in playing one season of football for the Ducks and then joined the team on Monday. Offensive coordinator Matt Lubick indicated earlier Wednesday that Benjamin was still deciding if he wanted to stick with football.
“It is hard to say what he can do if he could help us right now,” Lubick said. “Right now, he’s not settled on what he’s going to do. He might go play basketball overseas. I know I am excited about the guys we do have. If someone from outside was going to come in and play, with our skill we are deeper than we have been in the past, you have got to be pretty darned good. That’s not easy.”
OFODILE OUT: Alex Ofodile is sitting out spring practices because a foot injury, but Lubick likes what he has seen from the receiver on the sidelines.
“He keeps his mind in it and pays attention during every meeting and gets out there early,” said Lubick, who is in his first spring as Oregon’s offensive coordinator after serving as wide receivers coach.
“We talk about getting mental reps and as a coach, we define that as ‘If you are not in there, your head is in the game’. As coaches, we are always looking to see if guys are paying attention when they are not in and Alex is a guy who always does that. I am hoping that is going to pay off for him when he does get back on the field.”
Ofodile, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound redshirt freshman, is still recovering from a foot injury suffered late last season.
“I am learning everything and compared to last spring, I know it better, so that is good,” Ofodile said. “The things I can do, I am attacking as well as I can.”
Ofodile, ranked as the top recruit in the state of Missouri in 2015, graduated from Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, in time to join the Ducks last spring. The Oregon coaches considered using both Ofodile and fellow freshman Kirk Merritt last season before choosing to have Merritt play and Ofodile redshirt.
“In my first spring, I wasn’t able to play as fast as I could because I did not know some stuff and I was thinking too much,” Ofodile said.
“Now it is just get the play and react. I am able to cut loose and play and not be thinking, which is what slows you down. Plus, I have been in the weight room for a year now so I am a lot bigger, faster, stronger and a better overall athlete.”
Ofodile said the decision to redshirt last year was the right one.
“It is always good to redshirt,” he said. “I am going to be a freshman again and times two compared to what I was last year so it is always good to get an extra year to develop no matter what.”
During his redshirt season, Ofodile said he tried to prove to the coaches he could play if the Ducks needed him. He has continued to do that while sitting out the spring season.
“I have to go out every practice with a chip on my shoulder to make people think that I should be playing,” he said. “That is how I attacked practice, like I should be playing and have something to prove.”
Ofodile’s father, A.J., spent three seasons as a tight end with the Baltimore Ravens from 1997-99.
“He and I talk back and forth,” Ofodile said. “It used to be him teaching me how to play football, but now it is more the mindset of how to get through things and win a spot, which I am trying to do. It is more mental stuff than teaching football.”
IN THE CENTER: Lubick said redshirt freshman Jake Hanson has put himself in position to be Oregon’s starting center next season.
“He is definitely doing some good things to compete for it and that is a hard thing to do as a freshman,” Lubick said. “He has taken advantage of every rep and it is obvious he is doing a ton of things off the field to have success on the field. I am happy with what he is doing.”
Hroniss Grasu was a four-year starter at center for the Ducks before playing for the Chicago Bears next season. Matt Hegarty, a senior transfer from Notre Dame, started for the Ducks last season.
“Our center here has always been a leader on and off the field and that is where everything starts,” Lubick said. “Jake has been competing and trying to win that position and that has made our team better.”
FOOTBALL TO TRACK: A few members of Oregon’s football team will help out the track team during Saturday’s Pepsi Invitational at Hayward Field.
Running back Tony Brooks-James and Merritt will be in the 100 meters with USC football star Adoree Jackson. Wide receiver Devon Allen will run the 110 and 400 hurdles. Safety Jhet Janis will compete in the javelin.