Seen and heard at Oregon Ducks media day
On DJ Johnson's new look, Oregon's focus on speed, Cam McCormick's return and trying to contain Justin Flowe.
EUGENE — While quarterbacks Bo Nix and Ty Thompson were swarmed by reporters, I made my way from table to table, learning about offseasons, new hobbies and more.
Here are some things that caught my eye at Wednesday’s Oregon media day.
DJ Johnson sports a new look
Upon moving back to the defensive line, edge rusher and former tight end DJ Johnson is donning a new look. Gone are the long locks. In is a closely-cropped head.
“It was like a childhood thing,” he said. “I knew that one day I was going to regrow my hair normal, just because when I was younger, I wasn't really able to grow it out how I wanted to. I finally got to the point where I was ready to make that next move.”
Speaking of moves, Johnson made it abundantly clear on Wednesday how short-lived his tight end career was under head coach Dan Lanning. Johnson said as soon as Lanning arrived and laid eyes on him he told him to settle in along the defensive front.
Coming down to our level
Christian Gonzalez, the sophomore cornerback who transferred from Colorado in the offseason, has made a big adjustment. This season he’ll be playing nearly 5,000 feet closer to sea level.
“I'm from Texas, so I'm getting back to normal, but I think practicing (in Colorado) and working out there definitely helped (with conditioning), I'll say that,” he said. “You can definitely tell the difference.”
One of the biggest points of intrigue amongst Oregon’s defense is the length on the back end. Gonzalez is a legit 6-foot-3. Also, every other defensive back that figures to play a key role this season ranges from 6-foot-1 to, in safety Bryan Addison’s case, 6-foot-5. That size should be an asset for a Ducks’ secondary that, while not as deep at cornerback as they’ve been in years past, has some excellent top-end talent.
Speed, speed, speed
Jarwarski Beckum was hired this offseason. His title? Director of speed and performance. Quite the prestigious position for a program as renowned for its burners as Oregon.
While Beckum himself wasn’t available Wednesday, a handful of players dished on his track-centric approach to speed training. Many of them boasted of new personal bests on speed tests.
“(We’ve) done a lot to really increase our speed and that's really been the focus because we're at the University of Oregon,” running back Sean Dollars said. “Not everything’s about lifting. Not everything is about getting big, it's about bringing that speed to the table.”
A familiar face
Tight end Cam McCormick is back. Yep, he’s still here, and while the circumstances of his presence — yet another season-ending injury last season — are unfortunate, he’s been a pleasant interview for several years, given his mature perspective.
This is year seven for McCormick. Here’s hoping he’s able to move on peacefully after this season.
“I can't really imagine myself doing it,” he said. “But you know, if I want to reach my goals, and that goal is going to the NFL, I'm going to do that whether that means staying this year or staying another year. Whatever is going to help me reach my goals is what I'm going to do.”
Bradyn Swinson’s lesson in nutrition
In his journey to transition from an underweight speed rusher to a more dominant three-down edge threat, Swinson’s had to commit to new nutrition standards.
“I’m learning more about eating throughout the day…” he said. “(In the past) I was just trying to eat big meals and I wasn't really focusing on the snacks and things in between. You’ve got to eat like that to keep your body going throughout the day.”
He said he hated PB&J sandwiches prior to arriving in Eugene. Now it’s just another snack in his rotation. Yogurt, salads, turkey sandwiches and Ritz crackers are all staples of his weekly diet.
Justin Flowe’s name was mentioned more than any other player at media day.