Originally posted on The Duck Stops Here  |  Last updated 7/15/13
Bralon Addison got hate mail when he decided to come to Oregon. On Twitter and in text fans let loose with intolerable venom: Just made the biggest mistake of your life! how much they payin you?  just as long as you know you made a mistake buh bye mr irrelevant Those were the milder moments, printable within the bounds of decency. Some quoted Bible verses and accused him of being a liar. Some of it became even racist and sexual. Breaking free: Bralon Addison hauls in a 55-yard touchdown pass against Arizona last September. The Ducks faked a zone read handoff and then a bubble screen, allowing the versatile, speedy freshman to beat the safeties deep. (Thomas Boyd, oregonlive.com photo)     When Addison posts thoughtfully in social media about Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman case, he knows first-hand how ugly and wrong people can be. Before the sophomore wide receiver became the smooth, poised playmaker who was the buzz of Oregon spring practice, nabbing 8 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown, he was the biggest deal in Houston area football. As a high school quarterback for the Fort Bend Hightower Hurricanes he led his team to the Texas State 5A Championship in The Cotton Bowl, losing to South Lake Carroll 36-29. Addison was named All State quarterback and Greater Houston Player of the Year, passing for 50 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, running for 2693 yards and 35 tds in his two years as QB-1 at Hightower. On National Signing Day in 2012, Addison shocked area football fans by switching his commitment from Texas A&M to Chip Kelly and Oregon. He'd been up until 4 a.m. the night before, agonizing over the decision. The hate mail came like sewage pouring out of a busted main. He decided on the Ducks because he wanted to major in broadcast journalism and he liked the offense. "I fell in love with the place, academically and athletically," he said. When he addressed a packed assembly on Signing Day at his school, he told his friends and classmates, "This is the hardest decision I've ever had to face in my life." That February the thoughtful football star told Jeremy Solomon of the Houston Chronicle,  I just wonder if they have kids and how they would feel if their child had to make such a difficult decision. I wonder about their character. Would they be OK if people criticized their son in the same situation? It's no surprise that Addison handled his freshman year as a Duck with such poise, culminating in two twisting punts in the Fiesta Bowl, the Wildcats bearing down on him, knocked down by his own blocker as the ball arrives, secured in the biggest game of his life. In all #11 grabbed 22 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns as a first-year player, adapting to the playbook, techniques and blocking at a position he hadn't played since his sophomore year of prep football. The striking thing about Bralon is the respect he already commands in the Oregon locker room. Teammates regularly praise his efforts in practice, making plays that stand out to coaches, coming up with big catches, returning a punt for a touchdown. Buzz spreads quickly. Talk is humming among program insiders that Addison could be a breakout star in 2013. He earned a powerful endorsement from receiving mate Josh Huff, who told Rob Moseley,  He’s a smart young man. He’s able to learn things a lot faster than others can. And he takes what he learns from the film study onto the field. He was very dedicated from the moment he got here. The 5-10, 189-lb. slot receiver attributes his fast-rising improvement to getting more confident and comfortable in the Oregon offense, noting that he's able to play faster and recognize things more quickly as a second-year player. ( Video highlights from Mike Wines of Oregon Duck Soup and Youtube channel madmike1951.) What stands out in the highlight reel is the intelligence Huff talked about. Watch the tape carefully and you'll see a number of Addison's receptions come when quarterback Marcus Mariota is scrambling out of the pocket, buying time and looking for help to make a play. 9-10 times in critical situations, 3rd and long, the qb forced to the sideline, he finds Marshall at the sticks, working his way back to the passer and the ball. Addison makes catches in traffic and knows where he needs to be, He keeps getting better. Receivers coach Matt Lubick told Adam Jude of the Oregonian,  Even though he's a young guy, he's playing like a veteran. He's one of those guys who's working on all aspects of his game: not only making plays in space but blocking, which is extremely important here. He's actually made that a strength. Wideouts who practice and prepare this way win a coach's confidence. Quarterbacks learn they can depend on him. In 2013, Mariota won't hesitate to get Bralon Addison the ball. And when he does, Bralon will cut full speed and play without fear. For fans, one of the most satisfying feelings in sports is watching a quality young man come into his own. Watch Bralon Addison blossom this fall for the Ducks. He's going to have a national impact on a team with no administrative barriers, just the challenge of overcoming Washington, UCLA, Stanford, Oregon State and the rest. For Addison, his decision made and the adjustment to a new environment and position behind him, he's finally free to let his athletic ability take over and make something happen.  
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