Former Ducks Jonathan Stewart and Tacoi Sumler have both made headlines the past 24 hours, but for vastly different reasons.
Stewart, a former Oregon Ducks running back who left the team after the 2007 season for the NFL has just been given a 5-year $36.5 million deal with the Carolina Panthers with the potential to earn a maximum of $42.5 million. Add to the fact that $22.5 million is guaranteed and “J-Stew” just became one of the happiest backs in the entire league.
Despite countless injuries, Stewart played three seasons with the Ducks (2005-07) combining for an incredible 4,889 total yards and 33 total touchdowns. It seemed he was always battling some nagging injury, but continued his productivity.
As a consensus five-star recruit, and one of the highest rated Oregon recruits ever, the Ducks knew they had something special the moment he stepped on the gridiron. In his first play as an Oregon Duck, Stewart returned a kick 97 yards for a touchdown. His prolific play as a returner and back got him picked up in the first round by Panthers in the 2008 NFL Draft.
In four seasons with the Panthers, Stewart has totaled 4,707 yards on rushing, receiving and returning with 29 TDs as well. Despite two underperforming seasons in the previous two for Stewart, and with DeAngelo Williams on roster, the Panthers are confident in Stewart’s future.
The same can’t be said for former Duck Tacoi Sumler who recently announced his decision to leave the program. Despite never taking a snap in real action for the Ducks, Sumler’s career as a Duck before it even started. He cited that he wanted be closer to home and have more playing time. That home of Miami, Fla. and Christopher Colombus HS is quite the distance from Eugene.
Sumler announced via his Twitter account his intentions of playing for Appalachian State, an FCS school known for its 2007 upset of then No. 5 Michigan. Being a lower division school, Sumler will not need to sit out a year and can play immediately.
I’m ready for my new qb
@jamalasu12 to throw me these tuggs this year! ASU lets do this bra!
— Tacoi Sumler (@prymetyme9) August 12, 2012
Before the Ducks, Sumler competed in the Under Armor All-American game and was known as arguably the fastest prep player in the country. Some sites have Sumler reportedly running a 4.24 40-yard dash, which for context is faster than LaMichael James’ NFL combine run (4.45 seconds).
Sumler’s speed would have been a nice tool for Chip Kelly’s arsenal. Sumler, however, did face the risk in being buried behind a loaded Oregon Ducks’ wide-out group. The Ducks have an abundance of rFR talent, like Sumler, that are competing for a starting spot and reserve time. Now, Sumler can be almost certain of receiving starting time. He’ll have a short summer camp to get reps and learn the playbook.