By Ken Goe

The Oregonian

EUGENE — Oregon tight end Cam McCormick’s 2018 season amounted to less than one game, a single reception and negative yardage.

The 2016 graduate of Bend’s Summit High broke his left leg in the Ducks’ season-opening victory over Bowling Green.

It was an abrupt and anticlimactic end to what was shaping up as a success story for the Oregon offense.

McCormick had parlayed a strong preseason camp into a starting role.

The Ducks coaching staff was envisioning multiple two-tight-end sets with Jacob Breeland and McCormick.

“It was tough,” McCormick said Tuesday. “To work so hard for something and for it to be gone in just one day, it’s tough.

“But that’s life. Things happen. You can’t take it for granted. You have to be grateful for the opportunity.”

McCormick recovered enough to return to practice in December prior to the Redbox Bowl but was not game ready for Oregon’s 7-6 victory over Michigan State.

He is ready now. McCormick is fully healed, fully rehabbed and back at it this spring. He is a welcome addition.

The 6-foot-5, 259-pound junior has NFL size and tools. He is a big target with good hands who has the wheels to be a downfield threat and the beef and mindset to get physical at the point of attack in the run game.

“He’s made tremendous bounds getting his body right in the offseason,” backup quarterback Tyler Shough said. “I know he’s going to be great for us this year.”

Shough’s locker is near McCormick’s. They spent time talking last year, when McCormick was sidelined.

“His family is a great support system, and he handled it well,” Shough said. “But you always hate seeing a guy on the sidelines.”

It was hard to be there too. McCormick was more than ready to put on his pads and go back to work this spring.

“It’s been fun just to be back with all my guys, honestly, and compete,” McCormick said. “It was a long season not to be out there to play.”

Breeland, a senior who caught 24 passes last year, has had back issues in the past and has been gimpy this spring too. Kano Dillon, who caught two TD passes, is gone, his eligibility exhausted.

A healthy McCormick fills a big need. He demonstrated what he provides the offense in last weekend’s scrimmage.

“He’s awesome,” Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal said after the scrimmage. “Cam is big and he’s physical and he’s got great hands.

“I know he had a big catch, took a full-speed shot and popped right up, which is great. … We know what a big part of the offense he is.”

How big remains to be seen, although McCormick insisted Tuesday he is not concerned about it.

“My role is whatever is needed,” he said. “Wherever they need me and however they need me, I’m willing to do it. If they need me to block, if they need me to run a route, if it’s with the (first team or second team), it’s really whatever to me. I’ll put that in the hands of the coaches.”

It is enough to be off the shelf and back on the field.

McCormick missed his senior season at Summit with a torn left ACL. He spent his first year at Oregon redshirting and soaking up knowledge from veterans such as Pharaoh Brown and Johnny Mundt.

He played in all 13 games as a redshirt freshman, catching six passes. Last year was expected to be the breakthrough.

Now, perhaps, it will come in 2019.

“Just being out there is great,” said McCormick, who plans to do something with the opportunity. “I’m going to give every little, last ounce I have.”

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