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Four Oregon players land on Bruce Feldman's "freaks" list

Jarrid Denney08/10/22
Article written by:On3 imageJarrid Denney

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Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic released his list of the top-100 “freaks” in college football and the Oregon Ducks were well-represented.

Oregon, Michigan, and Wisconsin were the only programs to land four players on the list, which as Feldman says, is intended “to spotlight the players who generate buzz inside their programs by displaying the unique physical abilities that wow even those who observe gifted athletes every day.”

Feldman’s list is compiled with the help of coaches, players, sports information directors, and NFL scouts from all over the nation.

All preseason, Oregon’s players have been raving about the strength and speed improvements they have experienced while working with newly-hired head strength and conditioning coach Wilson Love and director of speed and performance Jarwarski Beckum.

It seems that the nation is already taking notice, too.

Here’s a rundown of the four players who cracked Feldman’s list.

Edge DJ Johnson, No. 4

Oregon fans have been well aware of DJ Johnson’s immense physical gifts since he transferred in from Miami in 2018. Now, he has made the full-time switch back to defense after splitting time on both sides of the ball the past two seasons and could be on the verge of a massive breakout season.

“The Miami transfer bounced around last year, playing 152 snaps on defense as an outside linebacker (11 tackles, 2 TFLs), 98 on offense as a tight end, and 18 on special teams,” Feldman wrote. “But don’t be shocked if he emerges as a big force on Dan Lanning’s defense. Johnson had a dominant showing in the Ducks’ spring game, making five TFLs and four sacks. Those numbers are as jaw-dropping as the results the 6-4, 275-pounder has produced in the Oregon training program, posting a blazing 22.88 mph on the GPS to go with a 455-pound bench and 655-pound sumo deadlift.”

Cornerback Christian Gonzalez, No. 25

At Oregon’s media day, we asked roughly a dozen Duck players who their fastest teammate is. The overwhelming response was sophomore cornerback Christian Gonzalez. After transferring in from Colorado during the offseason, Gonzalez has drawn rave reviews from teammates and coaches and is in line to start at field cornerback.

“The younger brother of two former All-American sprinters, 6-2, 200-pound Gonzalez was a standout for Colorado in 2021, making 53 tackles, 5.5 TFLs and five pass breakups,” Feldman wrote. “Gonzalez wowed the Ducks’ coaches this offseason with this athleticism, hitting 23.3 mph on the GPS, vertical-jumping 42 inches and power-cleaning 325 pounds.”

Linebacker Noah Sewell, No. 42

Noah Sewell will be the heart and soul of Oregon’s defense in 2022. He’s a preseason first-team All-American who plays with a relentless motor and possesses immense athletic talent.

“The 2020 Pac-12 freshman defensive player of the year followed that with another big season, finishing second in the Pac-12 with 114 total tackles, 37 more than any other Duck,” Feldman wrote. “Sewell, a former high school quarterback, also had 8.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles. The 6-2, 260-pound junior has great movement skills, topping out at 20.85 mph on the GPS. He also bench pressed 425 this offseason, did 655 pounds on the sumo deadlift and power-cleaned 345.”

Linebacker Justin Flowe, No. 76

Oregon fans knew about Justin Flowe’s athletic feats long before he set foot in Eugene. He’s one of the top recruits to ever sign with Oregon, and like Sewell, plays with frenetic energy. If he remains healthy in 2022, he and Sewell could form the top linebacker duo in the country.

“A huge recruit for the Ducks out of LA, Flowe dominated in high school, producing clips like Jefferson in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” The 6-2, 245-pound 20-year-old is super explosive. Flowe looked like a star in Oregon’s season opener last year against Fresno State, making 14 tackles and forcing a fumble to earn Pac-12 freshman of the week honors before injuring his foot. Flowe, though, has bounced back from the season-ending injury and hit 21.75 MPH. He also has deadlifted 605 pounds and power-cleaned 335.”