Abby was my favorite niece, a red-haired sparkler with a twinkle in her eye and a firecracker personality, She her own style and a sneaky sense of humor. When she was eight she did a comedy routine for the school talent show. Everyone was a little worried. Comedy can be cruel. Abby took the stage and told her classmates, “I was going to wear my camouflage pants, but I couldn’t find them.”
She had her own way of looking at the world, fiercely independent. One morning she made her own breakfast: three pieces of bacon and a marshmallow. Sassy and funny, doing things her own way. One morning she called Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Grandpa Stan answered. Abby said, “let me talk to Grandma.” Stan, an optometrist who studied at Walter Reed, a robust man with a booming laugh, told her solemnly, “Grandma’s busy.” Abby shot back, “I’m busy too, let me talk to Grandma.”
Getting busy: Josh Huff snares a pass in traffic against Virginia earlier in the year. The senior became a fan favorite in his four years at Oregon, though sometimes he got himself in hot water over outspoken statements in the press. He was recently named to the West squad for the Senior Bowl All-Star Game, along with defensive tackle Taylor Hart (Bob Donnen, USAToday Sports Images.)
This winter the Ducks were like Abby, brassy, entertaining, a bunch you couldn’t help but root for. They had moments of brilliance and times things just didn’t work out for them. At the end of the season they missed out on the big rewards, but did manage to earn three pieces of bacon and a marshmallow, a reminder of the more nutritious repast they could have earned in an incomplete season.
Cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu made the second-team All-America squad, chosen by the Walter Camp Foundation.
Josh Huff and Taylor Hart were tabbed for the West squad in the Senior Bowl All-Star game.
Marcus Mariota, center Hroniss Grasu, and Ekpre-Olomu earned 1st team All-PAC-12 honors from ESPN.
247 Sports picked Tailback Thomas Tyner for their Freshman All-America squad.
Grasu was a finalist for the Rimington Award, given to the nation’s top center.
Among recruits, Arrion Springs and Royce Freeman were award 5-stars by Scout and 247, and Springs, Freeman, quarterback Morgan Mahalak, offensive lineman Tyrell Crosby, wide receiver Jalen Brown and running back Tony James made All-America games. Mahalak, a relative unknown before the season due to playing behind an FBS starting quarterback at Marin Catholic, vaulted into the Rivals 250 after leading the Wildcats to a 12-1 season, throwing 35 tds and just four interceptions, 139-226 passing (61.5%) for 2,494 yards. He also ran 66 times for 551 yards, an 8.35-yard average, with 7 more touchdowns.
There were other prizes the Ducks missed out on. They finished #10 in the country but were passed over for a BCS bowl. Mariota led in the Heisman race most of the year but lost favor in November. In the final balloting voters left him out of the Top Ten. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins of Washington won the John Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end after a senior season in which he caught 33 passes for 413 yards, with 7 tds, middling numbers, and Duck fans can’t help perhaps wonder if Colt Lyerla, had he righted himself and completed his junior season, couldn’t have exceeded them. Instead he found legal trouble, leaving the team and getting arrested for possession of narcotics. He’s currently negotiating with the court to be released to train in Las Vegas, but his request was denied this morning.
Another Duck found legal trouble also, further tainting the season. Troy Hill was arrested this weekend for assault, suspended from the team indefinitely. It was Hill’s second suspension of the season, after missing the Civil War for a violation of team rules.
For the Ducks, the three pieces of bacon would be a 10-2 season that ranks among the best in school history even if it is a little disappointing. The marshmallow would be a win in the Alamo Bowl over Texas.
When kids disappoint you, you just go on loving them; it’s the only thing to do. Discipline, when necessary, has to fit the circumstances. Sometimes the decisions are tough.