Former Oregon Ducks football player awaits NFL draft after beating cancer

Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 6:54 PM PDT
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EUGENE, Ore. (KPTV) - Division I athletes put in the work for four years in hopes of one day, they get to play at the professional level. One Oregon Duck football player was following his dreams of playing in the NFL, until he found out he was diagnosed with cancer.

Wide receiver Jaylon Redd found out he had pancreatic cancer during his senior year, in the middle of the season. Redd was recruited by the top college football teams in the country—but knew since he was a kid, Oregon was number one.

“I played for a team called the I.E. Ducks I think my last year Pop Warner. From there on, I always dreamed of being on Oregon Duck. Just the jerseys they’re different and how they carry themselves and I just wanted to be something like that,” says Jaylon Redd.

The Los Angeles native won the Redbox Bowl and the Rose Bowl. But going into his senior year, it wasn’t about stepping back on the field. In November 2021, he had an ankle injury that put him on the sidelines. A month later, Redd found out news that put his NFL dreams on hold.

Redd thought he had a regular stomachache, but it happened more than once and felt he needed to get checked. The 23-year-old was told he had a tumor on his pancreas and had to have surgery right away.

“It reoccurred again a couple of days later, I was vomiting and what not. Initially we thought it was just food poisoning,” said Redd. “It was definitely something that hit me hard. I think at first, the whole time I was in the hospital didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t really know where to go from there because I never really been there. The whole procedure was that they cut it out. That’s all, it didn’t go anywhere else in my bloodstream. I remember waking up in the hospital I was in a lot of pain.”

Redd says he got his strength from the people around him.

“Mental toughness. Staying true to my plan, staying true to myself and my family. How I was raised and being mentally strong.”

Today, Redd is cancer free and is back to working out at 100%. Now, he awaits his fate at the NFL draft next week. When it’s all set and done, Redd has one rule: Don’t use the word ‘cancer.’ Instead, he calls it the “C” word.

“I think cancer can be a negative thing. I use the ‘C’ word to just shove it off. I’m bigger than that and I’m way stronger than a word.”

Redd continues to live his life with one mantra: “Control what you can control. It just taught me I just told me to be smarter, be more blessed, be happier for the things that I got right now. Be more in the present.”

In Redds’ five seasons with Oregon, he accumulated 21 touchdowns, 131 receptions for 1,435 yards. Redd says, if he had it his way, he’d play for the LA Chargers to be back with his friend and former teammate, Justin Herbert.