As college football has grown, so has the attention and value of the spring game. All across the country, teams are broadcasting what is now an annual event. It has turned into a must-see spectacle for avid football fans. Oregon’s spring game is this Saturday at 11 a.m.
The spring game stands as the premier opportunity for up-and-coming players to showcase not only their abilities, but to enter their ballot as potential starters heading into the season. From quarterback Marcus Mariota to wide receiver Bralon Addison, the spring game has been home to countless Oregon talents in recent years and should be no different this weekend.
If you take a look at the standouts of the past three spring games, you’ll notice a trend: Those who perform usually become contributors in the long haul.
2011-2012 spring game standout
LaMichael James (RB)
Three carries for 78 rushing yards, one touchdown.
Career numbers: 5,082 rushing yards, 53 touchdowns, 6.6 yards per carry.
2013-2014 spring game standout
Bralon Addison (WR)
Eight receptions for 136 receiving yards, one touchdown.
Career numbers: 83 receptions, 1,133 receiving yards, 12.8 yards per reception average, 10 receiving touchdowns.
2012-2013 spring game standout
Marcus Mariota (QB)
Completed 18 of 26 passes for 202 yards, one passing touchdown, 99 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns.
Career numbers: 6,342 passing yards, 63 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 65.8 completion percentage, 1,467 rushing yards, 7.3 yards per carry average, 14 rushing touchdowns.
While not every spring game performance can be labeled as a breakout, it has shown that there is some value in numbers in the yearly exhibition.
In this year’s game, don’t look any further than Thomas Tyner, who recorded 115 carries for 711 rushing yards, nine touchdowns (same as Mariota) and 6.2 yards per carry as a freshman. Tyner was recently compared to Eric Dickerson and will compete against Byron Marshall for the starting position this season. While Marshall held the starting job last year, it appears to be a much more level playing field for the two this season.
Another player to look out for will be Johnathan Loyd, the Oregon basketball star who took advantage of the opportunity to play football. Loyd, a star receiver and cornerback at Bishop Gorman High School, will compete for a spot on the receiving corps.
With the recent loss of Bralon Addison, who suffered a season-ending torn ACL, the Ducks will look for players like Loyd to fill the void.
The Ducks may no longer have a top receiver in the country, but they will have a group of seasoned receivers who are more than happy to contribute.
On a functional level, this year’s spring game will be no different. There will be a lot of scoring, eye popping highlight reels and an opportunity for player like Tyner and Loyd to solidify their place on the roster. It may just be another exhibition game, but it’s going to be another reminder that football is on its way.
Follow Hayden Kim on Twitter @HayDayKim