Senior running back Kenny Bassett has come a long way since joining the team as a walk-on four years ago. This Saturday, Bassett will compete in his final spring game at the University of Oregon. After Monday’s practice, Bassett talked with the Emerald about his spring game past and the current status of the Ducks backfield.
How excited were you to be picked by team “Mariasu”?
“I was excited to go either way. I had faith in either side, either teammates, either line. So I’m just excited to play and hopefully we get the victory.”
Is it going to be competitive?
“Yeah, of course. Every day is competitive. Everybody on both sides likes to compete, myself included, so, I’m looking forward to a really competitive game.”
What do you want to take out of the spring game?
“Everything. I want to make it my best one. I feel like every year I get a little better, and this year I feel like I made a huge jump so I’m looking forward to it.”
What have you learned about the spring game through the years?
“What else I’ve learned throughout the years is that it’s not all about the spring game for me. Every day somebody is watching, like today in practice. Today was a spring game for me. Every day you have to compete no matter if there are people watching you — the fans are going to be there, and that’s big — but the coaches are watching every day and that’s what really matters to me, just trying to perform every day. When the spring game comes, that’s just icing on the cake.”
What’s your favorite spring game moment?
“It’s been so long I can’t remember, but I’ll tell you which one is my favorite spring game: It was the quarterback battle with Marcus (Mariota) and (Bryan) Bennett. That one was really exciting to watch.”
Were you surprised by Mariota’s performance?
“I mean we saw it every day in practice, we knew how special he was. They were both great quarterbacks. When everybody saw Marcus have a great game, it didn’t surprise anyone on the team.”
Do you remember your first spring game?
“I remember it a little bit. It was my first time playing in front of so many people, so it was a little nerve-wracking. It was big for me, just walking out there and seeing everybody. My family was here and it was big. My heart was pounding a little bit.”
How do you feel about wearing the Oregon ‘O’ on your chest for four years?
“It’s great. I can’t really think there is a better place. We have great facilities, great coaches and me and my teammates are all just great people. We’re really men of Oregon and we take pride in that. It’s kind of a symbol of who we are.”
How do you feel about the relationships you’ve built over your time at Oregon?
“I’ve met some great players, like LaMichael (James) and Kenjon (Barner). They’re really great people. I was with Kenjon over spring break and we’re all just great friends. I’ve built lifelong relationships with a lot of people on the team throughout the years and that’s what I really cherish the most. Not going and running through the tunnel, it’s just the people and the friendships I’ve made.”
How competitive are you with each other?
“It’s competitive. We are always on each other if someone drops the ball, whatever, we’re always on each other about everything. When it’s your turn, you have to go and make a big play, too.”
What’s your relationship like with fellow backup running back Ayele Forde?
“I’ve known him the longest, so I can definitely say I know him better than any other running back.”
What do you think of his hair?
“I was with him when he had hair like mine, so I’ve seen it gradually growing. He’s really proud of it.”
What do you think of when you see Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner play?
“Speed. Those are two of the fastest people I’ve ever met in my life. That’s all I think when I see both of them. When you see them in practice you’re like, ‘Wow, they’re fast.’”
How do you think De’Anthony Thomas will do in the NFL?
“Well, just seeing him here, he’s explosive. He’s not the biggest guy but he makes plays. He definitely makes plays even in practice. Every time he touches the ball he has a chance to take it the distance. He brings explosiveness.”
Follow Joseph Hoyt on Twitter @jhoyt42