Kano Dillon picked Oregon knowing there were three veteran tight ends on the roster.
“I’m not scared of competition,” the senior graduate transfer from South Florida said.
Dillon moved up the depth chart this week when starting tight end Cam McCormick was lost for the season with a broken bone in his foot. Dillon and junior Ryan Bay are both listed as backups to Jacob Breeland as the 23th-ranked Ducks (1-0) host Portland State (0-1) on Saturday.
“Everybody has to step up and make plays now,” Bay said. “Jake is already a playmaker and now Kano and I have to step up and fill that role as another versatile tight end. We know that we are a unique group that makes a lot of plays for the offense. Prayers for Cam, he’s my brother, but the next guy has to step up.”
Dillon and Bay bring different specialties to the position.
“Right now I am further along as a pass catcher,” said the 6-foot-5, 256-pound Dillon, who had one catch for six yards in his debut with the Ducks. “I have a lot to work on in the run game. They do a lot of different techniques in run blocking that I have to catch ahold of. That’s what I am working on right now and it is coming along pretty good.”
Bay has two catches in two seasons at Oregon.
“Ryan Bay is a guy that cannot be overlooked,” UO coach Mario Cristobal said. “He had a tremendous camp and is maybe one of our best blockers. He’s strong and physical and does a great job catching the ball. He understands all the formations out of any personnel grouping and gives us flexibility. Ryan is going to play and be a factor.”
The 6-3, 240-pound Bay played in 10 games last season, including a start against California when Breeland was out with an injury. Bay had both of his catches in that game.
“I take a lot of pride in physical blocking, but the passing game is something I continue to work on and get better at,” Bay said. “That is something I am going to need to keep improving on to be a big factor and help this team be successful.”
With depth at tight end that also includes true freshman Spencer Webb, Oregon has some sets with two tight ends.
“We are a versatile group,” Bay said. “We can be flexed out or we can be blocking or receiving. A lot of what we do helps the offense so we are prepared in a lot of ways. We are big bodies and we are fast and physical, so we take a lot of pride in all that stuff.”
Like Breeland, Bay is in his fourth year with the program.
“I feel like I can do a good job contributing to this team,” he said. “That also means that I have to keep working harder and be ready whenever my name is called and make some plays.”
Dillon had 28 catches for 499 yards and four scores in three seasons at South Florida before seeking a new home for his senior season.
Willie Taggart offered Dillon a chance to reunite at Florida State, but instead he joined Taggart’s former assistants at Oregon.
“After weighing my options, I felt like I had the most to gain from coming here to be part of the team with coach Cristobal and the staff,” Dillon said. “I felt like they had more to offer me.”
One of the biggest selling points for Dillon was playing with quarterback Justin Herbert.
“He will put the ball where it needs to be every time, no doubt about it,” Dillon said. “He looks the same on film as it does in person. Sometimes he throws a ball and I am like ‘Wow.' The first clip I saw of him on film I wondered how consistent he was, but now being out there, I haven’t seen him throw a bad pass yet.”
With Oregon trailing Bowling Green 10-7 early in the second quarter, Herbert completed a six-yard pass to Dillon on third-and-5 that extended a touchdown drive.
“Losing Cam sucks, but we have got guys behind him that will step up and play,” Herbert said. “They know what they are doing and I trust them.”