Pharaoh Brown

Oregon TE Jacob Breeland might fulfill the promise Colt Lyerla failed to realize

Oregon TE Jacob Breeland might fulfill the promise Colt Lyerla failed to realize

EUGENE - Oregon redshirt sophomore Jacob Breeland isn't allowing an injured right hand to get in the way of playing like the team's best tight end. 

"It kind of sucks but I'm just going to go out there and do as much as I can and play," he said. 

The results have been impressive. 

"He hasn't dropped a ball," UO coach Willie Taggart said, stating that Breeland's protected hand makes it appear like he might be getting ready to participate in the upcoming bout between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor. "So we might let him use that all year long out there."

Breeland's right hand has been wrapped in a cast as a precautionary measure. But the Ducks can't afford for Breeland to take time off. They need him. In a big way. Thin at wide receiver with very little tight end depth, Breeland could end up being one of the team's more vital pieces on offense this season. 

When it's all said and done, Breeland could live up to the promise once showed by former UO tight ends, Colt Lyerla and Pharaoh Brown. Lyerla could have become the greatest tight end in program history but off-the-field troubles derailed his career. Brown came close to equaling Lyerla in ability but overcame maturity issues just in time to suffer a severe leg injury in 2014 that altered his career's trajectory. 

Breeland could accomplish what both Lyerla and Brown did not. He is that guy on this roster and could become the first Oregon tight end to reach elite status since David Paulson in 2011. 

Breeland, listed at 6-foot-5, 241-pounds, matches Lyerla and Brown in size at the same age, and is only getting bigger. He isn't the athletic freak both Lyerla and Brown were but is a better overall athlete than Evan Baylis and Johnny Mundt, two quality senior tight ends who last season split time with Brown. 

Breeland has exceptional body control and natural running instincts after the catch. He also doesn't mind sticking his nose into the mix and blocking, something he will be asked to a lot of in a more physical rushing attack than Oregon has employed in previous years. 

Breeland finished the season with six receptions for 123 yards as the fourth tight end behind three seniors he said he watched and learned from. 

"They taught me a lot," Breeland said. "A lot about reading defenses...they just pushed me to be better, basically,"

Good thing, because Breeland stands as the lone tight end with any practical experience. Still, Taggart said he doesn't have much concern about the position. 

"I'm really impressed with all of our tight ends from spring to now," he said. 

The backup is redshirt freshman Cam McCormick, a three-star recruit a year ago out of Bend. Then there are sophomores Ryan Bay and Matt Mariota. 

"Are they where we need them to be? No," Taggart said. "But they are a lot better than what they were when we first started off. And to be honest with you, I feel good about putting any of those guys into the game and running our offense."

Taggart's offense will rely heavily on the tight end position, especially in the running game.

"That's one of the main things we're going to do," Breeland said. "(Taggart) said we're going to run the ball a lot so be ready to block."

Breeland said he has spent a lot of time working on reading defensive fronts, knowing who to block on certain plays and mastering his footwork and ability to gain adequate pad level on defenders. 

South Florida last season, under Taggart, saw its leading tight end - Mitch Wilcox - make just 12 receptions. Oregon's senior tight end trio last year combined for 65 receptions.  

While Breeland said he expects the overall role of the tight end to be different in this offense compared to the previous attack, he still expects to catch plenty of passes. 

"We're having some special plays for us to come open for touchdowns," Breeland said. 

Whatever the role he is asked to play, Breeland says he is ready to perform. 

"I'm going to go out there and play as hard as I can," Breeland said. "And if they are going to use me a lot then I'll be there to do my best and catch the ball if I need to, block if I need to and do it all."

He certainly is going to need to if the Ducks' offense is going to succeed. 

Oregon TE Pharaoh Brown feeling strong, seeking sacks?

Oregon TE Pharaoh Brown feeling strong, seeking sacks?

Oregon senior tight end Pharaoh Brown thinks himself a pass rusher? 

Sort of.

Brown said recently that he likes what he has seen from the Ducks' defense under new coordinator Brady Hoke. The unit, Brown said, has been very spirited, bringing great competition to the field. 

Brown, even though he plays offense, said he enjoys joking around with Hoke and has even lobbied for some time on the defensive side of the ball.

"I go into his meeting room sometimes, sneak in and try to get a Pharaoh Brown off-the-edge package," Brown said with a laugh. 

Brown certainly doesn't look like someone who couldn't generate a pass rush if asked to do so. But it's doubtful that fantasy will be realized. 

However, it does appear that Brown is set to return to game action after missing all of last season with a leg injury suffered in 2014. 

"Everything has kind of been easy," Brown said of his return to the field, which began during spring drills. "Just trying to get into football shape."

That's never an easy thing to do at UO given the pace of the Ducks' offense. But given that Brown's career almost ended in 2014 at Utah, getting back into Oregon game shape should be a piece of cake. 

"The speed of the game, I got used to it pretty easy," he said.

Brown's return gives the Ducks an NFL-caliber receiving tight end to work with along with the steady talents of seniors Johnny Mundt and Evan Baylis. With three good senior tight ends, Brown said he expects the Ducks to use plenty of multiple tight end packages. 

That said, Brown is by far the best receiving threat among the three tight ends. 

For his career, Brown has caught 37 passes for 585 yards and eight touchdowns in 37 games. He was having a great season in 2014 with 25 receptions for 420 yards and six touchdowns before the injury. 

Last year, Baylis had 16 receptions for 229 yards and one score. Mundt, limited to five games, caught five passes for 39 yards and a touchdown.

Cleary, Brown would be an upgrade as a receiving tight end to an offense already loaded with elite pass catchers.

Roses or Roulette?: Ducks Preview Part 3 - WRs and TEs hard to beat

Roses or Roulette?: Ducks Preview Part 3 - WRs and TEs hard to beat

College football is back! The Ducks begin fall camp on Monday so we're breaking down each position to determine if the Ducks, picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12, and their fans will be smelling roses as Pac-12 champs during a trip to the Rose Bowl, or placing bets at a roulette table prior to watching a sixth-place UO team in the Las Vegas Bowl. Each position is graded using the poker hand scale.  

Today: Wide receivers and tight ends. 

Projected starters: WR - Senior Dwayne Stanford (6-5, 205), junior Charles Nelson (5-8, 170) and redshirt junior Darren Carrington II (6-2, 195).  TE - Senior Pharaoh Brown (6-6, 250). 

Key backups: WRs - Redshirt junior Devon Allen (6-0, 190), redshirt sophomore Jalen Brown (6-1, 200), freshman Dillon Mitchell (6-1, 190), redshirt freshman Alex Ofodile (6-3, 200);  TEs - Seniors, Evan Bayliss (6-6, 250) and Johnny Mundt (6-4, 245).

Smelling like roses:  Last season's receiving corps was the greatest in program history. Hands down. Gone, however, are Bralon Addison and Byron Marshall. Devon Allen is running the 110-meter hurdles at the Summer Olympics in Rio. Will he return to the football team? Likely. But even if he doesn't, and even without Addison and Marshall, this group remains loaded. Not quite as deep as last year, but loaded, nonetheless. 

Carrington could be the most talented Oregon wide receiver in program history. He served a six-game suspension last season for violating NCAA drug policies prior to the 2014 national title game, but still caught 32 passes for 609 yards and six touchdowns in seven games. Double his production over a full season and you have a potential All-American. 

Maybe the most fascinating piece will be Nelson. His return to the offense full time after playing safety much of last season could lead to a weekly fireworks show from the slot position reminiscent of De'Anthony Thomas. Nelson should receive touches in a variety of ways (screens, short passes, sweeps, reverses), all designed to get him into space, allowing Nelson to make defenders look silly. No way, if healthy, Nelson doesn't score at least 10 touchdowns this season. 

Stanford will be steady as ever. Jalen Brown is a budding star. Mitchell showed flashes in the spring game. Ofodile is a former four-star recruit. 

Then there's the return of Pharaoh Brown at tight end. He hasn't played since that horrible night at Utah in 2014 when he suffered a severe and grotesque leg injury. Now healthy, Brown could return to his NFL-caliber form. If so, watch out Pac-12 defenses. Mundt and Bayliss are solid, but they lack Brown's overall talent, which was special before the injury. 

Place your bets: Just like with the running backs, the Ducks can afford to lose a couple of pieces and remain potent. The only problem is finding enough opportunities for each star to shine. 

Odds are: The receivers, assuming a quarterback can get them the ball, will be as feared as any in the country. Carrington and Nelson will be the most feared receiving duo in the Pac-12.  

Poker hand: Four of a kind with a healthy and dominant Brown at tight end.  The receiving corps is certainly championship caliber. 

Next up: Offensive line.  

Other posts: QuarterbacksWide receivers/Tight ends; Offensive line; Defensive line; Linebackers; Defensive backs.