Oregon had big plans for Jaylon Redd when the dynamic four-star prospect from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., signed with the program in 2017.
Redd has the skill set to play cornerback, running back or wide receiver at the Pac-12 level. But the talkative talent had a quiet true freshman season on the field, finishing with 122 all-purpose yards (63 rushing, 59 receiving).
First-year head coach Mario Cristobal said he “wasn’t really sure” about Redd’s role last year, but after a strong offseason he is now a perfect fit at receiver.
“He just made a conscious decision that he was going to approach every single day like a pro,” Cristobal said. “I mean, this guy has really become a focused, driven individual. I can’t tell you how impressed we are as a staff by what he has chosen to do, which is really up his level of intensity, mental intensity, preparation, focus.”
Through two games, Redd has five receptions for 117 yards and caught three of Justin Herbert’s nine touchdown passes. The speedy sophomore enters Saturday’s game against San Jose State with a four-game touchdown scoring streak dating back to last year’s Civil War.
Redd talked about his increased role after a recent practice:
Question: How has your progression been through two games this season?
Answer: I feel like I’ve shown everybody what I can do from the receiver spot. As far as me being the best I can be, I feel like the best is yet to come. I have barely scratched the surface of what I can and what we can do in the receiving game.
Question: What do you think the next step is for you?
Answer: I can’t really say, I’ll have to show you. You’ll have to see on the field. Right now I feel like we’ve got a little too much inconsistency going on. It’s subtle, but it still matters. Really, when we all get together as a group and get on the same page it’s going to be real good.
Question: You guys have had a lot of receivers catch a pass already this season. Do you think that’s indicative of the depth you have at the position?
Answer: Indeed. We have a lot of receivers that haven’t made a name yet that are going to make a name. I feel like that’s what Cristobal is going to show you all is that we’ve got more than just ones and twos. We’ve got a lot of depth going on and we’re trying to get everybody the ball because everybody can help the team.
Question: Will that continue through the season or will there be some separation with the best guys at the top?
Answer: I can’t say that it’s going to keep going along throughout the season because I do know as we go the gap shrinks and we’re going to be playing better competition. I feel like the best of the best are going to play.
Question: What’s it like catching passes from a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate?
Answer: For me that’s exciting because I know that he’s most likely going to be one of the top picks this year in the draft. So they’ve got to look at who he’s throwing the ball to as well. If he gets the opportunity, we get the opportunity. It’s a team where we’ve got to work together. If I catch the ball he’s going to for sure get that Heisman thing. The way he’s throwing the ball, I’ve just got to catch it.
Question: Cristobal spoke highly of your development this week. Did you change your mindset during the offseason?
Answer: Definitely. I think I really took on a business mindset. Honestly, I feel I had a lot to prove really. I feel there were a lot of people coming in, I feel like my situation wasn’t sure. I didn’t have a stable situation coming into this year. So I had a lot to prove as a receiver, ball carrier, route runner, everything. I feel I had to step my game up.
Question: Is there anyone you model your game after?
Answer: I wouldn’t say nobody I model my game after. The reason is kept my number 30 is because I try to get everybody to buy number 30. I wasn’t really trying to be nobody else, I’m trying to be my own person. There is a couple people on the team that I look up to as far as my position. I look up to Dillon Mitchell a lot. His game is like smooth, he plays with no effort to me. I want to get it second hand so everything is easy.
Question: What was the biggest adjustment playing at at this level?
Answer: It’s really studying harder, my I.Q. When I read coverages, most of the times when I line up at receiver I look at the safeties and corners to see how they’re playing me, how they’re playing everybody else. So really for me my game has changed because I know when I’m going to be open and I know when I can get another receiver open as well. So I’ve just got to be unselfish sometimes.
Question: How important was it to get on the same page with Herbert this offseason and make sure you were one of his guys?
Answer: Real important because I know there’s got to be someone he goes to when he knows we need a play. I’ve got no problem being that man.
Question: When did you feel that chemistry?
Answer: I want to say fall camp. We had the first scrimmage, and I remember like every third down I was getting it done. I was getting the first down. Everything we needed when he was struggling, I’d get us the play and I was just noticing how I could be that man. I’ve got to keep doing it.