In four years as a point guard at Oregon, Johnathon Loyd averaged 5.0 points and 3.2 assists per game and was a member of two NCAA tournament teams. And after his college career came to an end with Oregon’s loss to Wisconsin in the NCAA tournament, Loyd made the decision to return to the football field for his final year of eligibility. NCAA rules allow athletes to play a different sport in their fifth year if they’ve used up their eligibility in another, and Loyd’s taken advantage.
But this isn’t a story of a “token” participant just happy to get a uniform and a locker. Loyd, who hasn’t played football since high school, was curious as to whether or not he had what it takes to compete at a high level. There was rust to deal with during spring practice, something both Loyd and head coach Mark Helfrich acknowledged in a story written by Anne M. Peterson of the Associated Press.
“The guy had a great attitude in the spring — but you could tell he hadn’t played football for five years,” coach Mark Helfrich said. “It’s not like he’s showing up and playing intramural flag football. He’s playing elite-level Division I football. There’s rust. There’s uncertainty.”
Loyd admits it was a weird adjustment.
“When I first started in the spring I was still in basketball mode. I came off the line and wasn’t going as hard as I could, trying to find my way. That kind of hurt me, I think,” he said. “But I’m out of that now.”
Loyd isn’t the first Duck to spend time playing both sports, with former Oregon Duck Jordan Kent playing three sports (basketball, football and track) during his four years on campus. As a senior Kent, the son of former Oregon head basketball coach Ernie Kent, started 12 games and caught 44 passes and that was his second season as a member of the football program (he played in three games as a junior).
With this being Loyd’s first season it’s tough to see him having that kind of an impact, especially when considering the fact that Oregon enters the season ranked third in the preseason coaches’ poll. Yet Loyd will continue to work hard in hopes of getting a chance to help Helfrich’s Ducks in game action.