Some leaders are emerging for position battles for Oregon's special teams.
Freshman Camden Lewis has the early advantage to handle kickoffs while he continues to compete with juniors Adam Stack and Zach Emerson to be the placekicker for the Ducks.
“From a kickoff standpoint, Cam Lewis probably has a little bit of an edge, but that is still going on,” UO coach Mario Cristobal said after Tuesday's practice. “From a field-goal standpoint, I think all three guys are still battling.”
Stack was Oregon’s punter as a freshman and placekicker during an injury-plagued sophomore season. Emerson was UO’s kickoff specialist last season, and Lewis arrived from Charlotte, N.C., for spring practice.
Senior Blake Maimone averaged 45.2 yards on 45 punts last season and Tom Snee averaged 35.2 yards on 22 punts as a freshman.
“Blake is punting the ball well and has really improved and Snee has also improved,” Cristobal said. “Blake is probably a little bit ahead.”
Oregon is looking to replace its top punt and kickoff returners with Ugochukwu Amadi and Tony Brooks-James off to the NFL. Travis Dye returned two punts and two kickoffs last year and Jaylon Redd had six punt returns for 85 yards.
“Travis is a guy we really like back there because he is sure-handed and makes good decisions,” Cristobal said “Jaylon Redd is an explosive guy who has played so much football, he is very savvy and also makes good decisions.”
Cristobal said junior cornerback Deommodore Lenoir is also pushing to return kicks along with wide receiver Juwan Johnson and cornerback Daewood Davis. Safety Jevon Holland has worked on both punt returns and kickoff returns along with freshman receiver Mycah Pittman.
“It is hard to practice that full speed, but we did and we got to see what those guys can do,” Cristobal said. “Those guys seem natural. … We have tough decisions there to make.”
Senior Ryan Bay was the first-string tight end early in practice with Hunter Kampmoyer behind him. Jacob Breeland was held out of practice and Cam McCormick remains limited with an ankle injury.
“Breeland got nicked up pretty good yesterday, but I think he’ll be fine,” Cristobal said. “Maybe another day or two. Cam is increasing the number of reps he’s taken out there so he’s just about ready to go.”
Davis and Lenoir were back at practice while safety Kahlef Hailassie was out.
“(Hailassie) should be ready to go tomorrow,” Cristobal said.