Starting center Jake Hanson's status for Pac-12 opener still being evaluated

Cam McCormick’s star-crossed career at Oregon has been interrupted once again.

The promising 6-foot-5, 260-pound tight end from Bend will sit out the entire season after suffering an ankle injury preparing for his junior season.

McCormick won the starting spot before the 2018 season but broke his leg in the opener against Bowling Green.

“After assessing him and after him seeing our doctors, it is best for us to take the rest of the season and rest Cam and let him heal so that he can have a successful spring and start next season with us,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said Monday. “We have tried; Cam’s got a tremendous heart, he’s a hard worker. I know he’s been through a lot and he’s been pushing trying to get there.

McCormick was also one of the three players hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis after grueling workouts in January 2017 under the direction of Irele Oderinde, who is now Willie Taggart’s strength coach at Florida State.

After suffering a torn ACL early in his senior season at Summit High, McCormick redshirted in 2016 under coach Mark Helfrich. He played in all 13 games with two starts in 2017 under Taggart, finishing with six receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown.

“Due to the nature of the injury, he’s going to be fine, but it is in his best interest, in the best interest of the team, that he have this year to heal up,” Cristobal said. “and then come back and join us next season and in spring ball with the offseason workouts.”

 

The coaching staff was still holding out hope that McCormick could join a deep rotation at tight end, but it was decided that he should not “push through” the injury after warming up before the Ducks’ 35-3 win over Montana last Saturday at Autzen Stadium.

“Cam has fought hard to get healthy,” Cristobal said. “You wish these timelines are sometimes quicker than what they are, but some of those things are unpredictable.

“The plan for him is a strong one, it’s a solid one, an airtight one. We’re here to support him and make sure he gets back to full strength.”

No. 16 Oregon could also be without Jake Hanson for the Pac-12 opener against Stanford on Saturday at Stanford Stadium (4 p.m., ESPN).

The four-year starting center left the nonconference finale against Montana with an undisclosed injury. Calvin Throckmorton moved from right tackle to center and Brady Aiello filled in a right tackle after Hanson went out.

“Jake’s being evaluated, and when we get a true assessment on him certainly we’ll be open with that,” Cristobal said.

The news coming out of the training room wasn’t all bad for the Ducks on Monday.

Three injured starters on defense — Austin Faoliu, Bryson Young and Thomas Graham — should be ready to rejoin the lineup for the key road game against the Cardinal.

Penn State graduate transfer Juwan Johnson, who has missed his first three games at Oregon with a leg injury, is participating in early on-field preparations.

“Juwan did practice and looked like he’s really on track to be able to help us out,” Cristobal said. “But we’ll see, because I know I’ve probably teased (the media) a few times too many with that already.”

Two other key targets missing for quarterback Justin Herbert so far this season, freshman Mycah Pittman (shoulder) and senior Brenden Schooler (foot), will begin practicing after the bye week with the hope of returning for Oregon’s Oct. 5 home game against No. 23 California.

“We feel that they do have a chance, and they’re on target,” Cristobal said. “There’s a lot of work that goes into it and a healing process that comes with it, but they seem ahead of schedule.

“They’re champing at the bit. We know that, so we got to slow them down a little bit and make sure that they just are ready to go when they are ready.”

Backup offensive lineman Steven Jones (stinger) and running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio (back spasms) are expected to be available against Stanford.