Oregon basketball star Johnathan Loyd makes key football choice

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Johnathan Loyd was an undersized spark plug for four years with the Oregon basketball team.

This upcoming season, though newly-graduated and fresh off his senior year, Loyd will return to the Ducks for a final fifth year.

This time however he'll be on the football field, according to a CBS Sports report.

The 5-foot-8 point guard was a flighty ballhandler and averaged 7 points and 4.7 assists last year, both career highs for the hardwood Ducks. 

Now he'll show up as a punt returner and receiver for the Oregon's green and  yellow gridiron athletes. In the annual Spring Game, Loyd caught one pass for four yards and returned kicks in his first action since high school.

NCAA eligible

The athlete was eligible under a somewhat unheralded provision of NCAA bylaws which allows a player to have five years of athletic competition while on scholarship.

While he wasn't allowed to play another year of basketball - he had done his four years of time - nothing stopped him from moving across campus to the football team.

The rule was the same provision that allowed Greg Paulus to play a year of football for Syracuse, in 2009, after playing as a Duke basketball player the four previous years.

Speed is key

Whether or not Loyd will be able to have an impact remains to be seen.

The same height that limited his pro potential in basketball will also be seen as a hindrance in football. Still, it won't be as much of a difference maker - the average height of football players is significantly less than that of basketball players.

He'll still be playing against athletes who loom several inches above him, but those opponents will be slightly-less looming than what he is used to going against.

His main asset also remains the same: his speed.

The Oregon offense has made a living off that very attribute ever since the Chip Kelly days in Eugene. The frenetic pace of the spread-option attack utilizes the speed of its athletes more than anything else and Loyd may be able to find a niche in a cutting receiver role between the hashes.

Tony Sanchez, who coached Loyd in high school, said he wouldn't be shocked to see his former player contributing very soon.

"He's the fastest player I've ever seen in a football field," Sanchez told the Oregonian. "Live in-person, he moves in an entirely different speed."

A locker room leader

Perhaps even more important than his contribution on the field will be his leadership off of it.

Loyd is in strange situation: he will almost certainly be the locker room's most experienced athlete but also it's least experienced when it comes to that specific sport.

Of course, he's already taken it in stride, saying all the right things that a veteran locker room leader would.

"I've got nothing but respect for these guys," Loyd said about his teammates to the Associated Press. "A lot of people can say this or that when they're sitting in the stands, but they have no idea what it's really like."

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