Fall camp began at the end of last week and there were two prominent defensive pieces missing from action. Jamal Hill and DJ James, two projected starters for Oregon football, found themselves in hot water after being involved in an incident where they were driving around, shooting airsoft guns at people.
Obviously, this wasn’t something that seriously injured anyone and it was a rather stupid incident, but it was enough to earn suspensions because they didn’t use their best judgment.
People can say, “Oh, they’re just college kids having some fun,” but they made a selfish decision for a quick laugh that could potentially cost them their starting jobs.
All airsoft guns are going to do is leave a couple of bruises, but there was next to no point in them driving around and acting like they were above team rules and the law. What they did was wreckless and they’re lucky it didn’t lead to someone retaliating with more force.
Mario Cristobal even said after the first practice of fall camp that both were suspended indefinitely after being absent.
Will these guys still have a spot on the team when everything calms down? More than likely, but their starting jobs are going to be in serious question.
James was already trying to fend off Dontae Manning while Hill was expected to have a breakout season but this will surely set him back. Manning will be the favorite to win the starting job now and Bennett Williams and JJ Greenfield will fight for the nickel spot in place of Hill.
These guys let the team down at the worst time.
Oregon football needs to move forward
While these two guys may eventually be a huge part of the Pac-12 title puzzle in 2021, the Ducks must move forward in fall camp with the assumption that they won’t have Hill or James for a while.
Manning must compete as if he’s the starting cornerback, which he probably will be even when James returns, and Williams and Greenfield must do the same. They have to adjust to their new roles quickly and while it’s better that this happens now instead of the day before a conference title game, it still hurts the defense’s chemistry.
Two guys with starting experience being suspended a month before the season is going to cause some issues, but we’ll have to hope the defense gels regardless.
Two veterans making a selfish mistake like this could be costly and they owe their teammates a massive apology when they do return.