Oregon’s starting quarterback is set.
Eighty percent of the offensive line seems settled into a starting spot.
The running backs are likely to have a rotation similar to last year led by CJ Verdell and Travis Dye. It’s a similar story at tight end with Cam McCormick and Jacob Breeland leading the group.
The top competition to watch on offense throughout fall camp comes at wide receiver where the Ducks don’t have a returning player with more than 500 receiving yards in one season, but added a grad transfer plus a couple highly-touted freshmen who may fill in the unknowns.
“That is exactly how we want them to feel,” UO offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo said following the second practice of the fall on Saturday. “They have a chance to play, make a game-winning play, contribute and not just be an ‘X’ and ‘O’ out there. They have to go in and expect to play.”
There may be up to a dozen players who feel that way including veterans Brenden Schooler, Jaylon Redd, and Johnnie Johnson. Grad transfer Juwan Johnson may be the most anticipated newcomer on the roster while redshirt freshmen Isaah Crocker and JJ Tucker will take the field for the first time along with true freshmen Mycah Pittman and Josh Delgado.
“That’s part of the recruiting process, adding depth so the older guys have a chance to have a greater group and to be able to shrink that gap,” Arroyo said. “Those guys push each other. That is the whole key to everything in our program is making sure we are bringing in guys to push us and make us better and keep the arrow pointing up.”
Dillon Mitchell led Oregon last year with 75 catches for 1,184 yards and 10 touchdowns, but the Ducks lost their clearcut No. 1 receiver when he left for the NFL following his junior year.
Redd is the top returner after catching 38 passes for 433 yards and five scores last year as a sophomore while Schooler and Johnson are the only others who had more than 200 receiving yards for the Ducks last year.
Justin Collins and Bryan Addison each had one catch, making them the only other returning wide receivers with a reception during a season when Oregon counted numerous drops on passes from Justin Herbert.
“We go back and look at that stuff and get feedback from those guys, they came off last season knowing we had a lot of things to improve at all positions and they have done a nice job responding,” Arroyo said.
The most experienced receiver on the roster is Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 231-pound senior who had 54 catches for 701 yards as a sophomore at Penn State in 2107 before transferring to Oregon following a junior year when he had 25 catches for 352 yards.
“He had the opportunity to get 15 practices and get a jump, that is huge and it is paying dividends,” Arroyo said of Johnson arriving in time for spring ball. “He was a mature kid who played football before so the lights weren’t that bright. He did an awesome job and I think he propelled himself into a position to make a big impact.”
Crocker and Tucker are in their second year in the program while Pittman and Delgado arrived for the spring. Lance Wilhoite and JR Waters are freshmen in their first week of practice.
“They are a real athletic bunch of guys and a competitive group,” Herbert said. “They get after it every day so it is fun to watch. I look forward to seeing what they are able to do this year.”
The depth chart is likely to be adjusted a few times before the Ducks open up against Auburn on Aug. 31 in Arlington, Texas.
“The receivers have done a nice job,” Arroyo said. “Day Two of camp so obviously they are real active and that is what you want to see. They did such a good job coming out of a player-led summer. I think you can see some of the benefits of that. We have asked the guys to be aggressive and they have done a nice job.”