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The I-5 10: Oregon's Rodrick Pleasant brings rare speed to a fast school
Speed and Oregon go hand-in-hand. But even the fastest Ducks say UO's new freshman DB is different.
EUGENE — How fast is Rodrick Pleasant?
Annoyingly to everyone else at Oregon Ducks media day Monday, I couldn’t let go of the question. Over the course of the summer we’ve been publishing our I-5 10 series, which has highlighted some of the best newcomers to football in the state of Oregon, and I’ve long had Pleasant on the list.
Why? Because everyone from the track world has told us the dude is as fast as they come. He owns the California high school state record in the 100-meters at 10.14 seconds, and he showed it off in June at Hayward Field when he won the 100 at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in 10.21 seconds.
But since July, Pleasant has been on the football field. He’s a 5-foot-11, 180-pound cornerback who came to Oregon as the No. 91 player in the 2023 class. And yes, his new teammates have heard plenty about the speed of the freshman.
“Everybody knew who Rob was, you feel me?” said Dontae Manning, who finished third in the 2019 Missouri High School state 100-meter final with a 10.81. “He’s basically an Olympian when it comes to track.”
But how does that speed translate on the football field? I spent far too much of my time at media day asking the other fast guys for their take.
So, just how fast is Rodrick Pleasant Jr.?
Noah Whittington, running back: Fast. Insane fast. Like, supernatural.
Tysheem Johnson, defensive back: I don’t want to say he’s the fastest because Devon Jackson is kind of fast, too. But Rod might be the fastest on the team already.
Bucky Irving, running back: He can go.
Gary Bryant Jr., wide receiver: I haven’t seen something that fast with my own two eyes in person on a football field. During speed training he lined up against some of the fast guys on the team and he got respect from everybody after that race. You know, some guys want to line him up and see what it is. And I think he proved to everybody like yeah, this is real. It’s not just stats on paper.
Trikweze Bridges, defensive back: Rodrick, his speed is right now. It’s not like you’re waiting for him to build up. Once he takes off he’s already there. He’s already rolling. Yeah, he’s gaining more speed as he’s running, but from the line he’s already just flying.
Whittington: He’s trained to run the 100. So when we do races and stuff, we’ll probably run no more than 30 or 40 yards. And of course he’s not winning 30-yard races by a huge margin, because everybody on the team is fast. We got some fast people. But he really shows his speed when he gets the chance to open up.
Manning: He has real track speed. They’re two different speeds. He looks like he’s relaxed, but he’s moving.
Johnson: How he runs is just so effortless. That’s how you know he’s fast.
Bryant: He’s a very humble guy. He’s not going to talk too much. But he knows, like, ‘I can run.’ He knows he can run, but he’s a humble guy.
Manning: There’s always competition. Nobody is going to shy away from competition, no matter if you’re Usain Bolt we still going to get at you. We’ll see the track athletes like Micah Williams at breakfast or something, and we’ll be like, ‘Hey, whenever you ready to line it up we’ll line it up.’ There’s that mutual respect because we know that track is a whole different type of mindset right there.
Camden Lewis, kicker: I have no idea [who the fastest guy is]. It’s definitely not me. We wear these things when we run, Catapults they call them, that track your speed. They don’t even give me one. We’ll do awards for guys who were the fastest and stuff. They’ll get a T-Shirt or something, just some bragging rights. When they give those out I’m like, ‘How do you know it wasn’t me? I didn’t even have the catapult on.’
— Tyson Alger, The I-5 Corridor