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The Need for (More) Speed
Tuesday, January 25, 4:15 p.m. PT

Sixty meters? That's it?

Translated into yards, 60 meters is equal to 65 yards, 1.85 feet - a sprint distance in indoor track that should be more than doable for a few members of the University of Oregon's football program, who have temporarily moved the name placards on their lockers from the gridiron to the track.

A check of the current Ducks' track and field roster produces the names Kenjon Barner, Josh Huff, LaMichael James and Dior Mathis. James had four touchdowns of more than 65 yards last season, while Huff had an 85-yard run for pay dirt, and those sprints required avoiding 11 players intent on tackling them. Barner's season-long was 60 yards, so another roughly 17 feet isn't going to cause him any distress, especially without a helmet and pads.

But in all seriousness, track time proved key for tailbacks Barner and James a year ago, when they honed their sprinting skills and helped Oregon to a Pac-10 title before duplicating the conference championship feat on the football field. Add freshman receiver Huff to the track mix, along with redshirt frosh Mathis, a promising return man and cornerback who won the "Football 60 Meters" exhibition at last year's Twilight Meet with a time of 6.87 seconds, and both the men's track team and the football program are poised to benefit.

Dior Mathis, while a true freshman in football last fall, was an early enrollee at UO in 2010 and will be a redshirt freshman on the track this winter/spring.

The quartet will almost certainly experience more than just 60 meters, with additional sprints of 100 (outdoor) and 200 meters (indoor and outdoor), as well as the outdoor 4x100 meter relay. Last year, James scored in the 100 (fifth), while both he and Barner scored in the 4x100 meter relay (fourth) at the 2010 Pac-10 Championships.

LaMichael James carried his form from the track to the turf in 2010, finishing with more rushing yards than any other Division I player.

An all football relay this season is possible from a numbers standpoint and certainly would be intriguing. Huff's best mark in the 100 as a prep at Houston (Tex.) Nimitz High School was an impressive 10.86 and Mathis blazed a 10.71 en route to winning a regional championship for Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech.

The first meet the players will be considered for is Husky Classic in Seattle Feb. 11-12.

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