'I'm so glad he's back': A mother's view of Cam McCormick's return
After four years of setbacks, Debra McCormick finally feels like a football mom again.
EUGENE — Debra McCormick knows Cam isn’t going to like her telling this story, but it’s a good one and has a point.
Her son first visited Oregon in 2014 as a 3-star tight end from Summit High School in Bend. He was the No. 4 player in the state and visited Oregon at a time when its group of tight ends included future NFL players Johnny Mundt, Evan Baylis and the 6-foot-6, 245-pound Pharaoh Brown.
“We’re standing next to Pharaoh and he’s in his uniform and he’s even taller because he’s in his cleats,” Debra said. “And we’re standing there and Cam goes, ‘Are my arms ever going to be that big?’ And we’re all laughing, and he goes, ‘No. I’m serious. Like, physically, can they get that big?’”
Yes Cam, Debra told her then-lanky son.
But even then, neither of them realized how strong he’d really become.
Before Saturday, the last time Debra saw her son on a football field was in 2019 when Cam tried giving his surgically repaired left leg a go during warm ups.
He couldn’t — he’d broken the leg in the 2018 season opener — and would miss the rest of 2019 and 2020. When he returned for two games in 2021, the family remained home after the death of Cam’s grandfather and the family dog. And while Cam hauled in his first catch since 2018 in Oregon’s upset win over Ohio State, he tore his Achilles on the play. For the fourth consecutive year, his season ended before it ever really started.
“It’s been such a long journey,” Debra said. “It’s been a roller coaster ride. Every time we think, ‘Ok, here we go,’ for various reasons there were setbacks.”
Saturday was different.
Debra and her husband, Greg Rawdin, took their seats among a group of Oregon parents they barely know. Debra used to run a team parent Facebook page and they’d often host upwards of 100 people at their pregame tailgate. But that was years ago, with parents whose kids are now off to the NFL or long past college. One of the few people Debra recognized Saturday was the team’s honorary captain, Johnny Ragin III.
“And Cam played with him,” she said of Ragin, a linebacker who graduated in 2016.