The post-game scene at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex after Oregon’s win over Cal on Saturday night perfectly encapsulated Jaylon Redd’s status as one of the Ducks’ most underrated players.
He was giving interviews with a handful of reporters when Kayvon Thibodeaux set up shop right beside him. Immediately, 15 or so reporters swarmed around Thibodeaux and intruded on Redd’s space — so much so that Redd had to relocate to another section of the room to complete his interviews.
There were only a few reporters who talked to him, and most of them towered over him — he’s listed at 5-foot-8 but is definitely closer to 5-foot-6. Contrasted with the 6-foot-5 Thibodeaux rising about a sea of reporters just feet away from him, it represented Redd’s role on the team in a vacuum.
“That’s just how it has to be,” Redd said of the increased spotlight on this year’s team. “It’s different now. Either you gonna be with us or you not gonna be with us. It’s a change, but you gotta deal with it at the same time. It’s no other way that I can even explain it to you.”
But among an ever-changing group of pass catchers, Redd has stayed solid as Oregon’s most consistent threat and one of the more underrated receivers in the nation.
After the departure of Dillon Mitchell, he came into 2019 as the leading returning receiver — but without much of the hype and fanfare that would typically be expected of someone in that role. All he’s done this year is elevate his game even higher, and it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the country begins to take notice.
He has a touchdown reception in each of his last four games; in the only game this season without a score, he caught nine passes against an Auburn defense that is among the best in the country. It seems that whenever the Ducks need a big play to move the sticks, Redd finds a crease over the middle or on a swing pass to make it happen.
“It’s all about the stats that nobody sees,” Redd said.
That unselfish mindset is what allows him to mirror another Oregon great: De’Anthony Thomas. Thomas never had a true position during his time in Eugene, but it didn’t matter. He was willing to play wherever and whenever the coaches needed him to, and when his number was called, he made the most of every opportunity. Like Thomas, Redd has filled that role brilliantly.
“I definitely looked up to De’Anthony,” Redd said, “And also Charles Nelson when I got here as well. Those are two people that I try to do some different things to mirror them a little bit.”
Redd’s role may not be the most glamorous, and he may never demand the biggest crowd in the room after games, but the Oregon offense wouldn’t be what it is without him.
“I just like the ball in my hands in any way,” Redd said. “If I can do anything with that short amount of space, I can make a fun day for myself.”