Dan Lanning's Intense Oregon Football Practices, Like 'National Championship Game'

Oregon Ducks football coach Dan Lanning's practices are as competitive as a "National Championship game," reveals Oregon wide receiver Tez Johnson.
Oregon head coach Dan Lanning runs during practice with the Ducks Thursday, April 11, 2024, at the
Oregon head coach Dan Lanning runs during practice with the Ducks Thursday, April 11, 2024, at the / Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA

Oregon football coach Dan Lanning has led the Ducks to immense success during his two seasons as head coach. Lanning's 22-5 record and two bowl game victories are a product of the old adage, practice makes perfect.

"It's so competitive (at practice)," Oregon wide receiver Tez Johnson told Oregon Sports Illustrated’s Bri Amaranthus. "You would think we're out there in a national championship game playing against whoever - we're so intense at practice."

"It's like a chess game every day in practice with our defensive backs. If we win on offense one day, they (the defense) win the next day."

One of college football’s brightest young coaches and a top defensive mind, Lanning's focus is not just on competition. His team DNA stems from accountability and toughness. Coach Lanning's Duck football team does not get special treatment or free passes.

Oregon head coach Dan Lanning runs during practice with the Ducks Thursday, April 11, 2024, at the
Oregon head coach Dan Lanning runs during practice with the Ducks Thursday, April 11, 2024, at the / Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA

"We work for everything," Johnson told Amaranthus. "I can't tell you enough how many times coach Lanning stressed school on us and going to class. How many class checkers are out there, making sure we're in class. They will not let you miss a class here."

"...That's the standard. If you want to be elite, handle your business on and off the field."

Thriving within the ever-changing college football landscape, Lanning is seemingly everywhere at once, preparing his team for their inaugural season in the Big Ten Conference while also connecting on a personal level to teach the young men.

Lanning is making a pointed effort to make sure the senior receiver Johnson is prepared by challenging him to step up as a vocal leader on the Ducks. On offense, Oregon lost leaders in quarterback (and Johnson’s adopted brother) Bo Nix, running back Bucky Irving, center Jackson Powers-Johnson and wide receiver Troy Franklin to the NFL. 

“Once I started talking, everyone listened,” Johnson told Amaranthus. “I’ve never been in that situation before, so it's kind of weird at first, but I can do it."

Johnson is fresh off his best season yet,  breaking the Oregon record for receptions in a single season in 2023, with 86 catches. The hope is for Johnson's development to continue to ramp up.

Coach Lanning's development of his team has flown past "coach" and have developed into "mentor" and "friend."

Lanning traveled to Alabama to be with former Oregon quarterback Bo Nix during thefirst round of the 2024 NFL Draft . When Nix got the draft call from the Broncos, coach Lanning beams in the background as Nix celebrates with his family. 

The coach's philosophy of hard work and dedication resonates through his players, who achieve on the field and embody the mental toughness required to excel at the next level, making the program enticing to recruits. It's a well-oiled machine.

"Everybody's competing - From the coaches, to the players to the training staff... Everybody is competing to be the best that they can be." Johnson told Amaranthus.

Coach Lanning is leading the Ducks into Big Ten Conference play with a stacked roster, including the nation's best transfer quarterback, with the type of practices that prepare a team for a College Football Playoff run.


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Bri Amaranthus

BRI AMARANTHUS