Campus scoop with Mike Yam at Oregon State and Oregon training camps

Pac-12 Networks’ 3rd season of the Football Training Camp tour kicked off in Corvallis with our fearless leader Mike Yam, alongside Curtis Conway and Nigel Burton, before the crew made a Tuesday stop to see Mark Helfrich and the Ducks.

Following a jam-packed Monday with first-year head coach Gary Andersen, Yam reflected on what he saw with the Beavers.

On taking part in football actvities during practice...

Putting me through drills apparently is entertaining for our crew and so I was convinced to take part in a tennis ball drill. Nigel Burton decided that it would be a good idea for me to get on the other side of a machine that hurls tennis balls at players or in my case a victim. I’m great at ignoring sarcasm so I’m never going to let him live down calling me the best wide receiver that he has ever seen.

Compared to the epic disaster in Utah a year ago when I couldn’t field a punt, I would say that I was fairly successful reeling in the tennis balls. Nigel wanted to cranked up the speed, but the balls were firing way over my head. There were a couple instances where he lowered the machine, which lead to the tennis balls coming fast and furious at my face.

Impressions of Gary Andersen...

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Gary Andersen. With a new coach, it’s more difficult to get the upperclassmen to buy in, but I didn’t sense that with the Beavers. Sometimes when you go to a program with a new coach, you don’t always get the upperclassmen . They’ll send players who are a little bit younger for the interviews and when you do speak with some of the vets they seem to sidestep questions about the transition. That was clearly not happening on our visit. You can tell that the upperclassmen think they can win right now.

That being said, the quarterback battle is really up in the air. Obviously QB play was the biggest question heading in, but for me, it’s going to be interesting to see how Gary plays it out. All 3 guys had some good moments, but Marcus McMaryion stood out to me. Dave Baldwin is going to have a tough choice, but he’ll make his decision with enthusiasm. Baldwin has more energy than my 5 year old nephew. His guys clearly love playing for him.

Heading to Eugene

On Tuesday, the crew make the 47-mile trek south to Eugene for stop #2 with Oregon. Former Ducks defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, who came off the bench for Burton, joins Yam and Conway for the show from the impressive Oregon Football Performance Center.

(Spoiler alert: We’ll be catching up back up with Nigel, as well as with Yogi Roth at stop #9 for Washington State training camp)

Mike Yam (middle) conducts a podcast with Ryan Thorburn (left) and Austin Meek (right) of the Eugene Register Guard during some down time while at Oregon.

For Oregon, many of the questions leading into training camp centered around who would be filling the very large shoes of Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. Additionally, as news broke Monday on RB Thomas Tyner being sidelined indefinitely due to shoulder surgery, the mystique that always surrounds the Oregon Ducks heading into a new season just reached new heights.

So as the day from Eugene wrapped up, Yam left us with a few thoughts and impressions on the Ducks:

On quarterback play…

“What I was looking forward to seeing at both Oregon State and Oregon was quarterback play. I got a really good glimpse at what was happening at Corvallis, but in Oregon, there are still questions about the status of Vernon Adams, but he’s not even on campus (at Oregon).

After speaking to, and spending time with Oregon QB Jeff Lockie and, even more importantly, some of his teammates, it’s abundantly clear that the guys really do like him. He is a leader, plain and simple – he’s not lacking confidence and not questioning his ability of this team, but at the same time, he understands that he’s not Marcus Mariota. We asked him directly what he thought the offense was going to be and he said, don’t expect to see what you saw in previous seasons with Mariota.

So I came across with the understanding that Jeff is not trying to be the ‘second-coming.’ That being said, he’s still the guy that teammates like Braylon Addison, Charles Nelson and Royce Freeman are confident in his ability to not only win the starting job, but lead them to a Pac-12 Title, maybe even a National Championship.”

On the impressive physique of Royce Freeman…

“While we were setting up to do our interviews, I looked over my shoulder and was watching a few of the players walking by, and I noticed one player in particular who really stood out… that was Royce Freeman.

I definitely understand the reason why his nickname is ‘Rolls Royce.’ The dude without a shirt makes everyone look like they are completely lazy at the gym. He’s absolutely shredded!

As a joke, when he stepped onto the set, I said to him, ‘What’s it like to be in shape?’ He sort of laughed, shook it off, then said, ‘I could actually work out a little more.’ To me, he’s an absolute specimen, and it’s clear that when he’s playing on the field, he’s going to be the guy hitting players out of the backfield.

Let me just put it this way: I can’t imagine a linebacker that’s gonna want any piece of what Royce Freeman will be bringing their way in a 1-on-1 situation. Body type-wise, he reminds me a little bit of Devonte Booker, but certainly one of the most-impressive guys that I’ve seen in recent memory on the football field.”

With those parting thoughts, Yam, Aliotti and Conway said goodbye to the beautiful state of Oregon. Mike will make his way up to Seattle to meet up with Yogi Roth and another Pac-12 Network newcomer – former Huskie Lincoln Kennedy – for training camp with head coach Chris Petersen and the Washington Huskies Wednesday.

For all the behind-the-scenes action from each stop, be sure to continue to follow Yam’s personal recaps from all 12 schools on the Pac-12 Networks Insider blog.