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August 23, 2012A big question going into fall camp for the Oregon Ducks was wide receiver. With just a handful of returnees with game experience, the Ducks knew they would need to rely on some inexperienced youth.
Justin Hoffman would be a senior on the Duck roster in 2012, but that was not meant to be. Suffering a series of concussions which ultimately ended his playing career during his junior season, the Churchill high school graduate nonetheless found a way to continue his contribution to Oregon football.
"He unfortunately had a few concussions that cost him his senior year but he's still extremely valuable to us," explained Oregon wide receiver Coach Scott Frost. "He's in my room as a student assistant now."
As a student assistant, athletes have vast latitude how seriously to take their role. Hoffman has proven to be an exception to the normal.
"Most guys when they're in that position don't show up much anymore but Hoff has been here every day working," Frost said. "The guys are able to see him, ask him questions because he's been there and done it. He gives us another leader in the room and he provides a great example. He showed up here as a walk-on and the only reason he played was work ethic, attention to detail, toughness, all those things that made him way better than his talent should have allowed. That sets a great example for all the guys in my room."
Scott Frost is a talented coach following a stellar playing career. Regardless, the numbers game is not in the favor of coaches of some units including wide receiver, with one assistant coach and 15 players in his room.
One of those players is redshirt freshman speed merchant B.J. Kelley who identified Hoffman as one of the group's top leaders.
"Even though Justin is not playing right now, Hoffman is up there and I really respect him," said Kelley. "He has been looking out for me. But really everybody on the team is a leader. We all help each other in different ways."
Frost emphasized Hoffman's value to his group.
"I feel like they don't even need me," deadpanned Frost. "Hoff could run the drills as well as I do. He knows them all, he's heard every coaching point that I'm going to make a hundred times. He is just one more resource for those guys to go to if they have any questions, or if they need someone to show them the right way to do things."
Duck Sports Authority couldn't help but ask Coach Frost if coaching could be on the horizon for Eugene-native Hoffman.
"You'd have to ask him that but I think he'd be exceptional at it if he wanted to do it."