Jordan Poyer (14) is projected to start at Cornerback for Oregon St. this fall, as well as continuing to be a force in the return game. Poyer has set aside playing baseball for the Beavers to focus on football. (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)
Jordan Poyer has decided to put the baseball cleats away, and focus full time on football. Poyer attempted the double, of playing baseball and practicing with the football team only on open days during spring practice, but has decided to put his full attention on the cornerback job he's projected to start at this fall.
"It’s just a decision I felt I had to make," Poyer said. "It’s tough to do two sports. I wanted to go all into it, but it’s tough. I enjoyed it and don’t regret it at all. I had a lot of fun out there, but at the end of the day, I had to do what’s best for me and the best for my future. I had to hang them up, and try to help this team win a Rose Bowl."
Poyer, who will be a junior in the fall, played in 7 games for the Beaver baseball team early this spring in the outfield, starting in five of them. His speed, both in the outfield, and on the base paths, was a strength. A standout in both sports in high school at Astoria, Poyer played last summer with the Corvallis Knights, and worked with the baseball team, not the football team, during winter term. But his hitting eye never came fully back, and he was batting only .250 for the season.
"It was a positive experience for me," Poyer said of his time back on the diamond. "The guys on the team are great. Everyone was great. It's what made this one of the hardest decisions I've had to make. But I feel like I needed to be here with these guys (the cornerbacks) grinding. I felt I had to earn my starting spot. If I keeping doing what I have to, it will come."
Poyer, already a regular on special teams, also became Oregon St.s' primary kick returner after James Rodgers suffered a season ending knee injury, and it's not yet known how fast James' knee will respond.
"I hope James has a full recovery," Poyer added, "but if my name is called, I want to be ready there as well."
As a true freshman, Stevenson earned the backup job behind 'Quizz, and rushed for 137 yards in 11 games, primarily as a third down back. He even averaged the same 5.3 yards per carry that Jacquizz did.
Almost no one noticed him in last year's spring game though, after he got banged up right at the beginning, and the decision to not risk any further injury ended his day. Then, during training camp, Stevenson injured his shoulder when he put his hand down to brace a fall in practice. The awkward fall aggravated an old injury, and Stevenson's shoulder popped out.
He popped the shoulder back in place on his own, and continued with drills. But when he went to get in an ice bath later that day, the shoulder popped out again, and assistance from the trainers was needed.
Stevenson broke a bone in his shoulder during his junior season in high school in Tucson, AZ, and the injury healed wrong, As a result, the shoulder would separate again with little effort if hit right. Stevenson briefly attempted to play with the problem, planning surgery after the season, but soon realized that wasn't working well, and elected for the surgery to help the bones set properly, and stop the separations from happening so easily.
"Mentally, I'm just getting over the cautious phase," Stevenson said. "I'm cleared to hit, and ready to do it."
Originally, doctors projected that it could take a year to recover, but the physical healing is ahead of schedule. In the meantime, Stevenson, who will be a red-shirt sophomore this fall has grown.
"People forget that Jovan played a lot as a third down guy as a true freshman," Oregon St. Coach Mike Riley commented, "and he did a nice job. And now, he's 10 to 15 pounds bigger."
After two spring practices, Stevenson has already shown he still has the moves that helped made him the backup to 'Quizz. Contact starts next week, which will provide the next challenge in Stevenson's road back to the backfield.