Not-So-Tight End Gets Ducks Loose : Rose Bowl: Oregon’s Josh Wilcox isn’t really daffy--it’s just his style of trying to have some fun.


What kind of Duck is Oregon sophomore tight end Josh Wilcox?

An odd Duck?

A wild Duck?

A daffy Duck?

He’s certainly no dead Duck, not the way he has been acting lately. Start with the new tattoo on his left biceps.

The artwork is of a skull with a rose in its mouth. Above the skull are the words “Rose Bowl,” and beneath it is “95.” It’s a pretty great tattoo.

“That’s what a lot of people thought,” Wilcox said. “Except my mother.”

And she learned about it by reading the newspaper.

It’s quite a personality arsenal that Wilcox is bringing with him to Monday’s Rose Bowl game against Penn State.


In pads, Wilcox was the only 12-game starter for the Ducks’ offense, catching 19 passes for 293 yards and five touchdowns and throwing his body around on blocks like, well, some wrestler.

Oddly enough, that is precisely the job Wilcox would like to have. In fact, he’s sort of upset that the team had to go to Disneyland the same day he could have witnessed the bouts on a professional wrestling card.

A sociology major, Wilcox set his sights on a career as a bodyguard after seeing Whitney Houston in “The Bodyguard,” and quickly figuring it looked like pretty decent work.

But if he can’t be a bodyguard or a wrestler, then Wilcox would just as soon hop on a motorcycle--he covets a Harley-Davidson--flex his tattoos, let the wind rush through his skull earrings and just take off.

If that Harley ever comes his way, Wilcox promises he’ll head for North Dakota for the annual Harley rally. He said the event’s appeal is obvious.

“Yeah, that would be rad to go up there and hang out,” he said.

Any particular reasons?,

“You get a big leather jacket, killer boots and stuff. Yeah, you’d have fun, man. Fun, that’s all it is.”


And so the Rose Bowl welcomes Josh Wilcox, a decidedly loose end in search of fun. He’s been finding it for a while now.

The son of former San Francisco 49er Dave Wilcox, Josh grew up in Junction City, Ore., about 20 minutes from Eugene, and was a prep football star. On weekends, he was a ball boy for Oregon games at Autzen Stadium.

And on the occasion of Oregon’s first Rose Bowl appearance in 37 years, Wilcox promises not to be awed by the event. Wilcox plans to keep himself and his teammates loose, mainly just by being himself.

His teammates know what they’re getting. Wilcox isn’t just a live wire, he’s an electrical substation.

Oregon quarterback Danny O’Neil said Wilcox brings an entirely different dimension to the Ducks.

“A kind of crazy, out-of-control attitude,” said O’Neil, who also said that first impressions of Wilcox might be misleading.


“Josh starts going crazy, the first time you see it, you probably think he’s loony. But you understand, it’s just his style.”

The Wilcox method of teammate inspiration is not yet patented. However, it apparently is effective, usually involving yelling and going semi-berserk.

“We love it,” O’Neil said. “He puts on a show. He may look like he’s out of control, but he knows what he’s doing.”

Or, sometimes not. Take the time Wilcox fell on his backside as O’Neil called the snap at a crucial moment in the Oregon State game.

Dave Wilcox, Josh’s father, was at the game.

“Terry Baker asked me what invisible man knocked Josh backward,” the elder Wilcox said.”

Josh said he had been sick and his equilibrium was off, but others weren’t so sure.

“Some rumor got started that I passed out,” he said. “I went, ‘Yeah, that happened.’ ”

But one play later, Dino Philyaw scored for the Ducks to put the game away. It was a scoring play Wilcox took credit for.

“Well, I set it up with my awesome ability to be unbalanced,” he said.

Few may argue that point. In Rose Bowl-mad Eugene, the Wilcox brand of personally controlled hysteria seems to be playing just fine.


It’s hard to figure how an Oregon victory would go over in Eugene because merely being in the game has been so big already.

“How could I describe it?” Wilcox said. “Well, if we ever achieve world peace, that would be close, I guess.”

In the meantime, Josh is busy being Josh. He tools around town in his 1985 Chevy Blazer and when he isn’t practicing football or driving, he watches television at home.

“You know, I’m a bum,” he said.

As for tattoos, well, he’s got the skull and he already had a snake on the other arm, so Wilcox has sort of run out of arms.

Actually, he thinks too much is being made out of his tattoos.

“I mean, I’m not going to be some tattoo artist or anything,” he said. “I just kind of like skulls.”

Wilcox packed his Harley tie and his skull earrings for team functions this week, although he said he doesn’t really feel comfortable dressing up because it makes him feel like a banker.


He also briefly considered, then rejected, dyeing his hair, a la Dennis Rodman.

“I have to look halfway decent,” Wilcox explained.

Of course. But please, Wilcox said, don’t get the wrong idea about him.

“When people get to know me, they know that I’m not like this serial killer or anything,” he said. “It’s just me. I’m just having fun.

“A guy asked me if this was a big act, my personality. An act for what? I’m living my life and enjoying what I’m doing. This team . . . I guess it’s easy to stick out like a sore thumb.”

Besides that, nobody wants to beat Penn State more than he does, said Wilcox, who rates Joe Paterno second only to Bear Bryant on college football coaching’s list of greatness.

And so it goes in the free spirit business, where occasional bursts of normality occur.

Then again. . . .

Dave Wilcox told Paul Buker of the (Portland) Oregonian he thought it was funny when he read a newspaper quote from Josh, who said he wanted to be free to “swim with sharks.”

Said the elder Wilcox: “It’s more like playing with the guppies.”

But Josh said that was just his father being playful with him.

“My dad doesn’t like to think I’m weird,” Wilcox said.

What we appear to have here is somebody heavily involved in the pursuit of happiness and asking for a Harley to help close the gap.