On June 22, Eric Edwards Jr. set the the USATF U20 Championship meet record in the 110-meter hurdles, racing through the finish line in his green and white Oregon uniform.
Less than a month later, the young track prodigy, whose 2019 freshman season included a Pac-12 title and spot in the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships final, announced he was transferring to Louisiana State.
He wasn’t the only high hurdler to leave the Ducks this summer.
Braxton Canady, the 2018 Pac-12 champion, has departed for Florida State, and Joseph Anderson, an NCAA qualifier this past season, has also publicly announced his intent to transfer.
The loss of those three has turned Oregon’s once formidable men’s hurdle corps into a one-man show with senior 400 hurdle specialist Jonathan Harvey the only hurdler returning from last season.
Oregon coach Robert Johnson declined to comment, and Edwards couldn't be reached through LSU's media relations department, but Canady said his reason for leaving was personal and not related to the transfers by Edwards and Anderson.
“I haven’t really talked to them about their decisions and why they left,” he said earlier this week during a phone interview from his family home in Jacksonville, Fla. “If you’re asking if we sat there and colluded, no, definitely not.”
It’s the second summer in a row the Ducks have been hit hard by athletes transferring out of the program. Last year Oregon lost several notable distance runners who followed former assistant coaches Andy and Maurica Powell to Washington.
Of course, the transfer game works both ways and Oregon has had plenty of success in recent years restocking its roster with athletes looking for a new home.
Last year when the women’s cross country team won the Pac-12 title and finished third at the NCAA championships, six of their top seven runners came to Oregon via transfer, as did 11 of the 27 former Ducks who competed at the U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships last month.
What makes the most recent transfers unique, however, is all three competed in an event Oregon has owned at the conference level for some time. The Ducks have won eight Pac-12 titles in the 110 hurdles in the last 16 years, and three of the last four, including Edwards’ win in May.
Edwards was one of the centerpieces of the Ducks’ 2018 recruiting class, a 2017 U.S. Junior and Pan Am U20 champion from Houston who didn’t disappoint in his first season at Oregon. He set his personal best of 13.49 seconds — fourth fastest in UO history — in the NCAA outdoor semifinals but he was disqualified in the final for running around a hurdle. He is also fourth fastest all-time at Oregon indoors in the 60 hurdles with a PR of 7.69.
At the USATF U20 meet in June, Edwards won in 13.21 (going over 39-inch hurdles as opposed to 42 inches at the collegiate level) to record the No. 3 junior time in U.S. history.
But soon after he made his move to LSU.
“I would like to thank the University of Oregon, the T&F staff, and my teammates for making this a year to remember,” Edwards wrote in an Instagram post. “I would also like to thank all of the schools who showed an interest and took the time to recruit me. With that said I will be transferring to Louisiana State University.”
Canady had a breakout season as a sophomore in 2018, winning the Pac-12 title and advancing to the semifinals at the NCAA outdoor meet. But he injured his back during the 2019 indoor season and missed the outdoor season. He’ll have two years of outdoor eligibility left at Florida State.
“I just felt (FSU) would be a better situation for me,” said Canady, a two-time NCAA indoor qualifier for the Ducks who has PRs of 13.75 (110s) and 7.72 (60). “There’s nothing bad about Oregon or anything, it just wasn’t the right place for me.”
Canady said he intended to go to Florida State out of high school until Oregon swooped in late and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse — a chance to train alongside Devon Allen, the Ducks’ multi-sport star who was coming off a fifth-place finish at the Rio Olympics.
But soon after Canady arrived in the fall of 2016, Allen turned pro following his redshirt sophomore track season and the two were never teammates.
“I got there and it just didn’t end up working in my favor,” Canady said. “I couldn’t work with who I wanted to work with but I was there so I said ‘Let’s give it a shot. What’s the worst that can happen?’”
Anderson, who won a bronze medal at the 2017 Pan Am Junior meet, made his announcement on YouTube, though he didn’t indicate where he will be headed next.
“I’m transferring for my own personal reasons, I just feel like it’s best for me to move my talent somewhere else,” said Anderson, a junior next season who has PRs of 13.80 (110s) and 7.86 (60). “I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be able to run and compete for the University of Oregon but I just think my time here is done. I feel like God put me here for two years and I’ve learned a lot in those two years. I think I became a wiser person and a better man but I just feel like it’s time for me to move on. I’m excited for what’s next.”