While most Duck fans were likely focused on a little something called the Pac 12 Tournament, another big event was drawing it’s own crowd at Oregon’s Moshofsky Center- a crowd that included NFL scouts and the Former Ducks trying to impress them on the gridiron. Today, Oregon hosted the 2014 Pro Timing day, giving several former Ducks the opportunity to run drills in front of NFL scouts. While some players like De’Anthony Thomas, Josh Huff and Terrance Mitchell recently had the opportunity to display their skills at the NFL Combine, other Oregon Football gems like Safety, Brian Jackson and Wide Receiver, Daryle Hawkins did not.
For the Combine attendees, Oregon’s Pro Day provided an opportunity to improve upon drill times clocked in Indiana and show improvement in familiar surroundings. For Hawkins and Jackson however, this was essentially their big shot- a day each has undoubtedly dreamed about since they were kids. While many eyes were understandably on fan favorites, De’Anthony Thomas and Josh Huff, I couldn’t help but pay close attention to Hawkins and Jackson- two guys on opposite sides of the ball but with so much in common. . .at least if you ask me, a press rookie. Allow me to explain.
If you haven’t been reading gridirongirl, I’ll bring you up to speed. . . I’m a girl. I never studied journalism and I never set out to be a sportswriter. I just happen to love football and through a series of events ended up here- humbly covering one of the best teams in college football. In short, I don’t fit the mold and it’s obvious. I’m a girl, I’m not aggressive, I’m more interested in how the players are feeling and well, I’m completely unfamiliar with the media world (Don’t believe me? Just read my recap of last year’s Spring Game). All that being said, I’m finding my way step by step and it’s time to give credit where credit is due. [Enter Jackson and Hawkins].
Several times a week this past football season, I’d grab my recorder, pen and paper and head to Oregon’s post practice interview session with the likes of the top Oregon sports reporters from the Oregonian, Register Guard, KVAL, KEZI . . .you get the idea. For a small time girl just trying to do her thing, it was often difficult to be confident and more importantly, it was hard not to feel alone- a little fish in a big sea. While most of the players and coaches were very nice and patient, I couldn’t help but feel immediate comfort from Jackson and Hawkins- something both would likely be surprised to learn. It was the little things- Hawkins greeting me with an upbeat “Hey!” and Jackson chatting with me off the record about life back home, even after all his teammates had showered, dressed and headed off to class. Little things that helped this newbie stay the course, doing my best to bring a feminine flare to the world of Oregon football news. I owe them a debt of gratitude and couldn’t help but take this opportunity to shine the spotlight on them.
So what’s this have to do with Pro Day? Well, I don’t know exactly. What I do know is that in all the “40” times and “vertical jump” hoopla, sometimes, the character of a player unfortunately takes a back seat. Obviously, I can’t say these guys are my friends or that I even know them well, but to those NFL Scouts focused on those bigger names, I will tell you this: Be careful not to miss out on two Duck treasures. Not only are these two guys fast, physical, and driven, they are intelligent, humble and 100% respected by the fans (and gridirongirl writer) who know them best.