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Dr. Saturday

Oregon’s ‘Rudy’ gets into Fiesta Bowl thanks to teammate faking an injury

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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Oregon WR Dane Ebanez (courtesy of Oregon athletic communications)

We never condone lying or being deceitful, but this might be an exception.

With time running out in the Fiesta Bowl, walk-on receiver Dane Ebanez had not played a snap. He had played in a handful of plays in his career, but never in a bowl game. Here was a well-liked, hard-working player who put his time into practice with little payoff.

Receiver Keanon Lowe came up with a plan to get his teammate onto the field for at least one bowl snap.

Dane Ebanez (GoDucks.com)

The Oregonian's John Canzano, who wrote a terrific piece before the Fiesta Bowl talking about Ebanez, wrote that Lowe faked an injury as they broke the special teams huddle before the game's final kickoff. Ebanez is his backup on the kickoff coverage unit, so he went in.

Ebanez got in for the kickoff, and also was in for the last play when Oregon was in victory formation.

"It was definitely my highlight," Ebanez said, according to The Oregonian.

Canzano's piece shed light on Ebanez's college football career. He is from North Pole, Alaska, and he stands just 5-9, 180 pounds. Yet, he tried out for the Ducks' team in 2009 and made the roster as a walk-on.

[Related: LeBron James wanted Oregon to tag in for Notre Dame at halftime]

"There was something about him from that workout in 2009. I don't know what it was, but he's a perfect example of the meritocracy of college football," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said, according to The Oregonian. "Those who work hard can make it here."

The story has many Ducks players and coaches saying the same thing: Ebanez worked hard, was well liked, and had the respect of everyone on the team. But, like most walk-on players, he rarely played on Saturdays.

Ebanez made sacrifices. He told Canzano he took out $70,000 in student loans as he practiced alongside many players who are on scholarship. He is on track to graduate this year.

When he goes out into the real world, he can tell people he played for the Oregon football team. And he can tell them he played in a BCS bowl game, thanks to some quick thinking by one of his selfless teammates.

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