By Rob Moseley
If Bralon Addison had any question about how folks back home would react to the news he'll be playing in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30, the native of suburban Houston found out quickly.
“The moment they announced everything,” Oregon’s sophomore receiver said, “my phone rang at least 20 times in a row. It was crazy.”
Addison and the Ducks will be in San Antonio as of Christmas day, to begin preparations for the Alamo Bowl against Texas. Addison will be one of seven Oregon players returning to his home state, along with fellow receivers Josh Huff and Chance Allen, quarterback Damion Hobbs, outside linebacker Torrodney Prevot and defensive backs Eric Amoako and Stephen Amoako.
For a team motivated to prove a 2-2 November didn’t show its true colors, those seven Texans will have yet another spark when they take the field in the Alamodome.
Huff might actually have been on the opposite sideline for the game, had things gone differently during his recruiting process.
“Four years ago, they didn’t offer a scholarship,” Huff said. “I took that personal. It’s still personal, so I’m looking forward to going out there and playing against them.”
The Longhorns figure to get plenty of looks at the UO receivers who left the state to play for Oregon. Huff caught 57 passes for 1,036 yards and 11 touchdowns in the regular season, becoming the Ducks’ first 1,000-yard receiver since Jeff Maehl in 2007 and catching the game-winning touchdown in the Civil War.
Addison is Oregon’s second-leading receiver with 56 receptions for 842 yards and seven touchdowns. His fellow Missouri City native, Allen, caught five passes for 98 yards and a touchdown in eight appearances.
Like Huff, Prevot is a native of Houston, about 200 miles east of San Antonio. Prevot is looking forward to the chance to show family and friends how much he’s progressed as a true freshman pass-rush specialist.
“I feel like I’ve improved my game a lot,” said Prevot, who has 14 tackles with 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 11 games. “Just as far as being disciplined, having my attitude right and putting more effort.”
Along with the four Houston-area players, Oregon’s roster boasts Hobbs and the Amoako twins, who grew up in the greater Dallas area, about 275 miles north of San Antonio. (Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles play at Dallas the day before the Alamo Bowl.)
“The coaching, the education system top to bottom is good,” Helfrich said. “You know what you're going to get from Texas. We try to sneak in every once in a while and get a guy or two.”
Addison described the notion of returning to his home state, to face in-state power Texas, on a field where he’s played twice already – once in high school, once in an all-star game – as “weird, kind of like an oxymoron.” He knows Longhorn fans will outnumber those from Oregon.
“That’ll be something we have to overcome,” Addison said. “We can’t worry about it. But I think it’ll be a fun atmosphere, definitely.”
As of Friday, Oregon had sold close to 7,000 tickets from its allotment of 9,500, and there was every confidence the rest would be snapped up.
“Duck fans travel in bunches, so hopefully we’ll get a lot out there,” Huff said.
But playing at home in front of friends and family is only one motivation for the Texans on Oregon’s roster.
“We’ve got a lot to prove,” Huff said. “We lost two out of the last four games, and that’s devastating. Not to be where we want to be after everything we worked for, we’re not satisfied. So we have a lot to prove, physically and mentally.
“Two of the last four games, we got out-physicaled. So our goal here is to be more physical than them and bring the pain.”
Just as Oregon was left out of the BCS primarily due to its own play, the perception exists that the Ducks could lack motivation for the Alamo Bowl, based on some comments from players late in the season.
“Everyone’s been dogging us, and we have a lot to prove,” Addison said. “They’re saying we could trip up again because we’re not excited to play in this game. But I think these seniors have a lot to prove before they go out, and the young guys, we want to end on a good note going into next year, going into the offseason.
“I think we will be ready for this game, and I think we have a lot to took forward to.”