As the Ducks were about to face-off against the Volunteers of Tennessee, many were wondering why junior tight end Colt Lyerla was no where to be seen.
Head coach Mark Helfrich told the media in the postgame press conference that Lyerla was forced to the sidelines due to “circumstances.” However, there is much speculation that the starting tight end was suffering an illness this week.
As seen before in sports, injuries or illnesses provide an opportunity for others to step up. Oregon’s freshman tight end Johnny Mundt did just that today in the Ducks’ 59-14 victory.
The true freshman from Modesto, Calif. caught Oregon’s first pass of the game from Marcus Mariota for seven yards. With Ducks looking sloppy and startled from the start on offense, it was Mundt who delivered a spark, with a 16-yard touchdown, Oregon’s first of the day.
“It (his first touchdown) was surreal,” Mundt said. “It was amazing and nothing else has felt like that. Just hearing the crowd roar and having my team pick me up, it’s just a great feeling.”
On the next drive, Mundt created havoc again for the Tennessee defense, bolting down the field 57 yards to put Oregon into the Volunteer’s red zone and setting up Marcus Mariota to get the Ducks’ second touchdown of the day with a nine-yard rush. At 6 feet four, 232 pounds, Mundt finished the day with five receptions, 121 yards, and two touchdowns.
“Coach Helf always says you know, work hard, give it your all, and look at the results after,” Mundt said. “Right now it is a little overwhelming, a little new for me, but it is a great experience.”
According to Mundt, Lyerla had missed some practices and he got the official news he was starting yesterday.
Mundt stated he was nervous heading into the game, but the nerves wore off come kick-off. He was confident, and knew he just had to execute.
“My mindset was just to make the best of my situation,” Mundt said.
Mundt said that getting involved early helped him to get his confidence up and play strong throughout the game.
“I give a lot of thanks to my teammates who were picking me up and pushed me to do more and more.”
However, it was Mundt’s teammate, wide receiver Josh Huff who had kind words for the true freshman.
“Johnny is an unbelievable person,” Huff said. “He is an unselfish guy and he cares about the team.”
Head coach Mark Helfrich said he was impressed with Mundt’s performance against an all-SEC defensive end and that going forward they will see how his role changes and adapts.
“Another guy that just works his tail off,” said head coach Mark Helfich. “Had a great week in practice and I’m really really happy for him…He’s just one of those guys you can’t help but like and works really hard … The team is going crazy for how well he played, again a young guy, a true freshman that has a bright future.”
Mundt had an excellent fall camp and truly made his mark in his first-ever collegiate game. With the Ducks having a solid tight end in Lyerla, it will be interesting to see if Mundt can have more big days after his break-out performance today.
“My parents have always told me that hard work pays off,” Mundt said. “So day one one I showed up and I have been giving it my all every play and every rep, it has definitely paid off.”