The redshirt freshman caught Justin Herbert's only touchdown pass in loss to Auburn
Spencer Webb knows how to make an entrance.
During Oregon’s opener on Saturday night in Arlington, Texas, the 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman came down with a leaping two-handed catch in the end zone, shoved Javaris Davis to the ground with one arm and casually stepped over the talented Auburn cornerback on the way to revel in the moment.
Webb’s gem, which immediately went viral, was the highlight of the Ducks’ 27-21 football loss.
“I was just getting to my teammates. He happened to be on the ground, so I just stepped over, went to go celebrate my teammates,” Webb said of his impressive scoring play over Davis, one of the nation’s best defensive backs. “It was not disrespectful or anything, just trying to have fun. …
“I didn't expect it to blow up as big as it did, but it did, and I'm just grateful to be around my teammates and stuff. It was awesome.”
Oregon’s cluster of injuries at wide receiver created an opportunity for Webb, a tight end stuck behind established upperclassmen on the depth chart, to play a more significant role in the offense.
Offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo used Webb as a slot receiver, where he finished with three receptions for 20 yards.
With Juwan Johnson still “day to day” with a leg injury, and Mycah Pittman (shoulder) and Brenden Schooler (foot) out for several more weeks, expect to see more of Webb in the passing game when the Ducks host Nevada on Saturday at Autzen Stadium (4:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).
“Spencer's done a nice job since we’ve got here of catching the ball and playing in space,” Arroyo said. “He was a guy that we could take from the tight end room. He played a stand-up position at a high school. He had done some good things even last year on scout team.
“We felt like at least he could go out there and manage playing in the open space.”
Coach Mario Cristobal said true freshman tight end Patrick Herbert, who is 6-5 and has a lifetime of experience catching passes from Oregon star quarterback Justin Herbert, could also be utilized in the passing game this week.
“He's another another good example of a guy who can get out there and run and catch,” Arroyo said of the younger Herbert, who had 43 receptions for 797 yards and 11 touchdowns during his senior season at Sheldon High.
“It would be really cool,” Justin Herbert said of possibly completing passes to his brother at Oregon. “That’s not something I’ve done since high school. So yeah, I know my parents would really appreciate it and they would love to be there for it.”
Webb had 61 receptions for 1,063 yards (17.4 yards per catch) and 23 touchdowns as a senior at Christian Brothers High in Sacramento.
The four-star recruit was one of the top 10 tight end prospects in the 2018 class.
“In high school I played more wideout, split out tight end. So I'm pretty used to it,” Webb said. “So I like being out there. I feel free. It’s just natural for me.”
As a true freshman last season, Webb bulked up to 250 pounds while redshirting. He played in the final two regular-season games but did not have a catch.
To play the flanker position for the Ducks — where starter Jaylon Redd is listed at 5-8, 180 pounds — Webb has dropped down to about 238 pounds.
“Honestly, it was just great to be out there with my teammates,” Webb said. “We work so hard every day, and just be able to go out and experience that atmosphere was awesome. It was amazing.”
Justin Herbert said he was not expecting Webb to be a part of the game plan for Auburn until the rash of injuries devastated Oregon’s wide receiver depth.
Starting tight end Jacob Breeland had four receptions for 26 yards, and Cam McCormick is trying to make his way back from injury this week.
“I made the switch and kept working hard, and the coaches were saying, ‘Be ready, be ready, be ready,’” Webb said. “Preparation is everything. So fell back on my preparation, and that’s how it went.”
Herbert looked for other targets while rolling to his left before throwing the jump ball across the field to Webb with projected NFL first-round draft pick Nick Coe in his face.
“It was kind of a trick play in a way,” Webb said. “I honestly heard the crowd screaming as Justin was running, so I was like, ‘Damn, OK.’
“All I saw was Justin's arm and the ball was up and it just took me back to my high school days. I just snagged it out of the air and celebrated (with) my teammates.”
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