The fourth-ranked Oregon football team suffered a huge loss on Sunday when it was revealed that star safety John Boyett will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery on both knees this week.
Boyett, who played in the Ducks' opener against Arkansas State, sat out Saturday's 42-25 win over Fresno State, and reports surfaced later that night that the senior might be facing surgery.
Boyett confirmed the news on Sunday, offering a prepared statement to his hometown newspaper, the Napa Valley Register. He said he will undergo surgery on Wednesday in Los Angeles to repair partial tears of both patellar tendons.
No details were available regarding the initial cause of the injuries, but Boyett noted that "I've had a lingering injury that I played through all last year."
"The hope was, through different treatments and certain types of rehab during this past offseason, they would heal up and I'd be ready to go for my senior year. But unfortunately, it didn't work out as planned. I've been dealing with a tremendous amount of pain for a long time. At this time, I'm not able to play up to this level that I want to. Five different specialists from around the country have reviewed my MRIs and at this time surgery is needed. The operation is scheduled for Wednesday and the rehab process to get back to 100 percent is approximately six months. It's a very difficult decision. I have tremendous teammates and made many friends at the university. I've grown tremendously as a player and as a person, working under my great defensive back coach, Coach John Neal and the defensive coordinator, Nick Aliotti, who recruited me to the University of Oregon."
Early indications are that Boyett's Oregon career is over. He redshirted in 2008, making it unlikely that he'd be granted a sixth year of eligibility, even if he received a medical hardship waiver. And The Oregonian newspaper's Adam Jude was reporting that Boyett has intentions of entering next year's NFL draft, which is among the reasons he's opting for surgery now -- that six-month recovery time would potentially make him ready to go in time for February's NFL Combine.
The loss of Boyett is significant for Oregon's defense, because he's a senior leader and a three-year starter. He led the Ducks in tackles twice during his three seasons, most recently last year, when he finished with 108 (fourth-best in the Pac-12 Conference).
Boyett, who had an interception in the opener against Arkansas State, is a hard-hitting safety who always seems to be around the ball. He tied a Rose Bowl record in January by recording 17 tackles in the Ducks' win over Wisconsin, and had 12 tackles in the Pac-12 Championship Game against UCLA. He started this season on watch lists for several prestigious awards, including the Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Jim Thorpe Award and Lott IMPACT Trophy.
Avery Patterson seems to be the most likely candidate to take over as the Ducks' starting free safety. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior filled in for Boyett against Fresno State and finished with five tackles. He had 55 tackles last season -- fifth-best on the team -- and appeared in all 14 games for Oregon, including one as a starer.
Adam Sparks has been following Oregon Ducks football since 1990, and has written about the team as a freelancer since 2009.