If you’re watching the College Football Playoff National Championship game on Monday night between Oregon and Ohio State you might notice a former college basketball player playing a role in the proceedings.
Former Oregon point guard Johnathan Loyd is now playing wide receiver for the Ducks on the gridiron and he’s exercising a NCAA rule that allows players who have exhausted four years of eligibility in one sport to get a waiver to play an extra season in another. College basketball and football fans are probably aware of former Duke point guard Greg Paulus pulling this same move to play football at Syracuse five years ago.
Loyd was Dana Altman’s first basketball recruit at Oregon and an accomplished four-year player for the Ducks. The former point guard averaged seven points per game as a senior and has the most wins of any Oregon basketball player in program history. When he left, Loyd also ranked fifth all-time in program history in assists and fourth in steals. He also appeared in the most basketball games in Oregon history with 144.
Now Loyd will try to help Oregon capture its first national championship in football on Monday night. As a wide receiver and special teams contributor, he’s appeared in nine games and caught four passes for 19 yards and a touchdown (celebration pictured above).
In high school, Loyd starred on the hardwood but also led Bishop Gorman to a 4A state title in football as a senior while being named first team all-state as a return man in 2009. That season Loyd returned five punts for touchdowns, while also averaging 32.6 yards per kick return.
After playing four seasons of basketball at Oregon, former point guard Johnathan Loyd made the move to the gridiron in time for spring practice. As a wild receiver on a team with a host of options at the position, not a whole lot was expected of Loyd this season especially when considering the fact that the 5-foot-8 pass-catcher was in high school the last time he played organized football.
But thanks to hard work Loyd has seen the field, albeit sparingly, in each of the Ducks’ three wins this season. And Saturday in Oregon’s 48-14 win over Wyoming the former point guard made the most of his time on the field, catching a five-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Mariota in the third quarter.
“Once I realized where I was on the field, the emotions kind of took over and I just started screaming,” Loyd said. “It felt good though.”
Maybe he should take a cue from his quarterback, a player with a few touchdowns under his belt.
“You could tell when he scored he wasn’t sure what to do. He was kind of surprised,” said Mariota, who threw a pair of touchdowns and ran for two more.
Loyd’s caught two passes on the season for six yards, with the first reception coming in the Ducks’ season-opening win over South Dakota. Above is the postgame media session for both Loyd and fellow wide receiver Keanon Lowe, who Loyd shadowed throughout summer workouts as he worked to improve his skills.
A loss to Wisconsin in the Round of 32 put an end to Johnathan Loyd’s basketball career with Oregon. One month later, the 5-foot-8 former floor general is running routes as the newest member of the Oregon football team.
“I wanted to suit up for the Ducks one last time. Not a lot of people can say the Oregon Ducks offered them a football scholarship, ” Loyd told Sports Illustrated.
Loyd hasn’t played organized football since 2009 when he was a senior at Bishop Gorman High (Nev.). However, the addition of Loyd could have an impact on the Ducks this season. Oregon graduated top receiver Josh Huff, who caught 62 passes for 12 touchdowns in 2013. An injury to the team’s top returning receiver Bralon Addison has led to depth concerns for the Ducks.
“I’m not looking at John as just another [practice] body,” Oregon wide receiver Keanon Lowe said. “He’s someone who can help us.”
Oregon went 11-2 last season, winning the Alamo Bowl.
Loyd finished his career on the hardwood setting career highs in points (7.0) and assists (4.7) per game.