One of the real joys of watching Oregon football the last two years has been watching Bralon Addison develop as a college football player.
A junior in 2014, the former high school quarterback once scored five touchdowns in a playoff game for Fort Bend Hightower. He just has a flair for creating plays, and when he does, he's apt to hand the ball to the official and line up for another one.
Can your five star do this? Bralon Addison makes plays with phenomenal concentration and talent, sometimes so remarkable that even officials can't believe it.
Off the field, he likes to chill, watch TV and play video games. On it, he's a silent assassin who slits opponent's throats with deft stop/start moves, hair-raising escapes, and acts of larceny, treachery and deceptiveness over the middle.
Addison is clutch. Like his former receiver partner and mentor Josh Huff he does things so coolly and smoothly that sometimes opponents don't notice how much damage he's done until the stat sheet is lying on the locker room floor.
At 5-10, 189, he's not particularly big or fast, but he has tremendous body control, courage, poise and awareness. He's shifty, with great balance and the ability to shed tacklers and make people miss. A former high school point guard, he has terrific vision, able to set up blocks and see a play develop before it happens, a rare quality only great ones have, a Larry Bird/Wayne Gretzsky/Chris Paul "feel for the game."
For his artistry, reflexes, coordination and creativity, Addison is just fun to watch. And he's incredibly productive. As a sophomore he blossomed, with 61 catches, 890 yards and 7 touchdowns, adding a pair of punts returned for scores against Cal. He torched Colorado for 158 receiving yards and Washington for 157 in back-to-back weeks. His TDs included a 75-yard catch-and-run versus the Buffaloes and a 57-yarder versus Utah.
Bralon not only excels at making the big plays, he has a knack for the routine ones. He makes first downs. He extends drives. He makes one and two guys miss to get the ball past the chains. He's a rock on third downs or when Marcus Mariota is in trouble, trying to create a play. Invariably Bralon will be at the other end of it.
Three times in 2013 Addison made remarkable, gravity-defying catches at the sideline, his toes in bounds, his body almost parallel to the turf stretching out for the football. One of those, a catch against Oregon State in the Civil War, was overturned by the officials. They missed the call. Maybe they just didn't believe anyone could really do that.
In 2014, he toes the mark again, now the #1 target with Josh Huff graduating. There's no doubt he'll handle it with modesty and composure. It's a gift he's always had, an understanding of how to play the game. Andrew Greif of the Oregonian profiled him last October, relating a story from his parents, how Bralon was seven and in his first year of peewee football, and with time running out, he dove out of bounds to stop the clock. He scored the winning touchdown on the next play. “How many little kids would know that?” his mom, Sonya Swindell, asked.
With uncommon maturity, awareness and athletic ability, Addison is another of the quiet leaders on the Oregon offense. Between him, Marcus Mariota, Hroniss Grasu, Thomas Tyner, Byron Marshall, Tyler Johnstone and Jake Fisher, this is a group to have a rare brand of focus, execution and determination in 2014. Pundits and analysts will vary widely on the forecast for this year's Ducks, and they're likely to underestimate a group of unselfish, self-aware young men who are cold-hearted assassins between the lines.
From Mike Wines of Oregon Duck Soup and Youtube channel Mad Mike 1951, here is the Addison highlight reel for last year's 11-2 season, one of the finest sophomore seasons in the history of the program. The truly exciting thing is, there is even more to come. Matt Lubick did a great job of refining Bralon's talent last year, only his third as a full-time receiver, having not played the position since his sophomore year of high school before becoming a Duck.