Besides his entertaining post-game interviews and his one-of-a-kind name, Brady Breeze has grown into his own on the Oregon defense.
In the fourth quarter of Oregon’s 24-10 win over the Oregon State Beavers, the Ducks failed to convert on third down and were forced to give the ball back to OSU. With two minutes remaining, Beavers running back Jermar Jefferson lost control of the ball and fumbled. Breeze, a junior safety, pounced on it and gave the Ducks another chance to seal the game. The very next series, Cyrus Habibi-Likio powered it up the middle for a touchdown, giving the Ducks a two-score advantage.
Breeze has seen increased action ever since fellow safety Nick Pickett was disqualified in Oregon’s 56-24 victory over USC. He earned the first start of his career at the safety position when the Ducks faced Arizona the following week.
Against USC, Breeze recovered a fumble from quarterback Kedon Slovis deep in USC’s red zone. But his impact didn’t stop there. On the ensuing Trojan possession, he proceeded to intercept Slovis and run it back for the first pick six of his career.
“A small-town kid coming from in the state of Oregon and being able to make plays like that is something that I’ll never forget,” Breeze said.
Breeze also registered his collegiate career high of seven tackles. With his performance in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, he was labeled as a “momentum changer” by head coach Mario Cristobal.
Before current defensive coordinator Andy Avalos was hired, Jim Leavitt ran the Ducks defense for two seasons. Under Leavitt, the 6-foot, 196-pound Breeze played both the safety and linebacker positions.
Last season, he recorded just 10 tackles and struggled to crack a crowded depth chart. The experienced Ugo Amadi and breakout true freshman Jevon Holland handled most of the snaps at safety.
Regardless of which position he plays, Breeze has faced and will continue to face competition. Pickett, his main competitor this year, has the advantage of experience under his belt — starting 12 of 13 games last season and recording 59 tackles.
Under Avalos, Breeze plays at the boundary safety position. This means Breeze is responsible for the side of the field closest to the out of bounds sideline.
“It’s more of a true safety spot where I can be a true strong safety,” Breeze said. “It feels like it fits my body type and my position type.”
He and teammate La’Mar Winston Jr. both played at in-state high school football powerhouse Central Catholic High. Both were recruited by former head coach Mark Helfrich and stayed on through the short-lived Willie Taggart era. Winston was able to see playing time right away, but Breeze redshirted his freshman year, granting him one more year of eligibility.
Breeze has seen it all. Everything from a horrid 4-8 season to a Defensive Player of the Week honor and chance to win a Pac-12 Championship. But what he will remember most is seeing his name on the back of an Oregon Ducks jersey.
Other schools like UCLA, Alabama, and Notre Dame offered him an opportunity, but for Breeze there is no place like home.
“This was really humbling hearing this from so many schools, but I knew deep down that Oregon was the place for me,” Breeze said.