Football Practice Report: Oct. 14
Venue: Autzen Stadium
Format: Fast Friday
Had he made a different choice, Louie Cresto might have spent Thursday as a scholarship football player in his home state of Idaho, preparing for a game in which he would be a potential contributor.
Instead, Cresto was in Autzen Stadium on Thursday, going through "Fast Friday" with the Oregon football team as the Ducks prepare to host California on Friday (7:35 p.m., ESPN) – a game Cresto more than likely will take in from the sideline. An edge defender from Twin Falls, Idaho, Cresto chose to walk on with the UO football program last year rather than accept a scholarship offer from a smaller school, and he's now in his second year spending the bulk of his time at Oregon on the developmental squad.
A towering presence on the edge of the defense at 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds, Cresto didn't have the chance to command many eyeballs while in high school. A third-team all-conference player as a junior, he broke out as a senior, recording 10 sacks and earning all-state designation.
That helped lead to a late offer from the Ducks to walk on. Cresto hasn't looked back since.
"I knew if I didn't take advantage of this opportunity," he said, "I'd regret it forever."
Cresto made his collegiate debut as part of Oregon's field-goal unit in the Ducks' most recent game, at Stanford. More often the last two years, he's been toiling against the likes of George Moore and Steven Jones, helping the UO offensive line prepare for games while building up his own foundation of fundamentals and techniques.
It's a role that doesn't command much of the spotlight. But Cresto finds satisfaction in it.
"When I see our offense score a touchdown, I feel like I was a little part of that," he said. "When they've been working all week on a play in practice, and then they use it in a game and score, yeah, it makes you feel good. Sure it's a tough role, but I embrace it. You have to – otherwise, go back to Idaho, you know?"
With his height and long arms, Cresto can use his length to keep blockers at bay, and reach into the air to clog passing lanes. At other times he needs to emphasize keeping his pads low to get leverage at the line, but he has a fantastic role model in Oregon's star edge defender Kayvon Thibodeaux.
"I've got great teammates who, if I ask them a question, they're going to help me," Cresto said. "So, 'KT' being a taller guy – he's about 6-5 – I'm like, what can I do to help me as a taller guy on the outside?"
Wherever he gets direction, Cresto has been putting it to use. He was named a player of the week for the Ducks on the developmental squad following the team's win at Ohio State, and again the next week following a win over Stony Brook. Cresto made it three player-of-the-week honors in a row helping the UO offense prepare for a win over Arizona in the Pac-12 Conference opener.
"This place his special," he said. "With the athletes that come here, I wanted to compete and show what I've got. Being on scout team makes me better every day. It's free reps against the best players in the country. Yeah, I can't complain."
Developmental-squad scrimmage highlights: Safety Daymon David has been working back from injury as he anticipates making his UO debut, and he showed Thursday he might be ready to make an impact. In the Ducks' weekly 10-minute scrimmage period for scout-team players, David had an interception on a tipped pass and also came up to the line of scrimmage to stop a running back in his tracks. … Jaylen Smith also had a nice stop against the run. Miguel Nevarez jumped on a loose ball in the backfield for a fumble recovery, and TJ Gilbert broke up a pass near the line. …
Offensively, Cross Patton had an explosive cut to take advantage of a big block by Jaylan Jeffers for a long gain. Aaron Smith was the thunder to Patton's lightning, fighting off a couple defenders for another of the scrimmage's longer gains by the offense. … Patton also had a reception in the scrimmage period, hauling in a pass from Bradley Yaffe.