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Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Former Duck lands at Nevada; Are UO transfers an issue?

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

He was projected to start on Oregon's defensive line in 2009, but Tonio Celotto quit football in March and told the Eugene Register-Guard that he was moving back "to Southern California to attend to an ailing grandmother."

Celotto has resurfaced at Nevada, where he'll resume his football career after sitting out a season.

Hmm.

There was also this from the Register-Guard in March:

Celotto said the departure of former UO defensive line coach Michael Gray also factored into his thinking. [New head coach Chip] Kelly elected not to retain Gray when it was announced Kelly would replace Mike Bellotti as Oregon's head coach.

Celotto called new defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro "an amazing guy" but said Gray was "not only like a father but also a friend."

Celotto also wanted to go into law enforcement and Oregon doesn't offer a major in criminal justice.

He was the first of four Ducks who were expected to start or be key reserves this season but ended up bolting this spring. He was followed by starting receiver Aaron Pflugrad, backup quarterback Justin Roper and potential starting receiver Chris Harper, a former quarterback.

Roper left to find playing time; Harper to play quarterback and be closer to home. Pflugrad skipped town because his father, Robin, was fired as receivers coach.

Celotto, it appears, falls somewhere between Pflugrad and Harper.

There is almost always player attrition after a coaching change. But, yes, this is more than usual, at least in terms of players who were likely going to be high-level contributors.

While it may raise an eyebrow or two, it doesn't strike me as terribly alarming. There's no indication anything sinister is at work here -- each of these four had valid reasons for leaving. And new coach Chip Kelly's consistent attitude of "if you don't want to be here, then go" is the correct approach.

It would only become a worrisome trend if similar transfers continued at the same rate into next year.