Justin Herbert’s replacement will inherit a Biletnikoff Award candidate to throw to.
Oregon’s Johnny Johnson III, who led the defending Pac-12 champions with 57 receptions for 836 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019, enters his senior season on the preseason watch list for the award given to the nation’s outstanding receiver, regardless of position.
Johnson broke out of his sophomore slump with more receptions and receiving yards in the first three games last fall than the entire 2018 season when he finished with only 17 catches for 215 yards and four touchdowns.
For his career, Johnson has 95 receptions — 63 of which resulted in first downs — for 1,350 yards and 12 touchdowns. His 45-yard touchdown in the Pac-12 championship game gave the Ducks a 17-0 lead en route to the 37-15 win over Utah.
The other Pac-12 players on the Biletnikoff preseason watch list are Stanford’s Michael Wilson, USC’s Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns and Washington State’s Max Borghi.
The Ducks also return Jaylon Redd (465 yards, seven touchdowns), Mycah Pittman (227 yards, two touchdowns), Bryan Addison (203 yards, one touchdown), Josh Delgado (147 yards) and Daewood Davis (89 yards, one touchdown) from last year’s wide receiver rotation.
USC transfer Devon Williams, redshirt freshmen Lance Wilhoite and JR Waters and a talented group of incoming freshmen will also compete for playing time.
Redshirt sophomore Tyler Shough is the favorite to replace Herbert as the starting quarterback, but Boston College graduate transfer Anthony Brown and true freshman Jay Butterfield will make him earn it.
Starting running back CJ Verdell, who rushed for 1,220 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore, is on the Doak Walker Award watch list. Sophomore defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and junior defensive back Jevon Holland are on the Bednarik Award watch list.
The Ducks were scheduled to begin mandatory team activities on Monday, but the Pac-12 paused the workouts indefinitely and canceled all nonconference games.
The Pac-12 plans to reveal details of a conference-only scheduling plan by July 31. Commissioner Larry Scott, who has tested positive for COVID-19, has said a contingency plan for moving football to the spring also exists.
Contact reporter Ryan Thorburn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-338-2330, and follow him on Twitter @By_RyanThorburn and Instagram @rg_ducksports. Want more stories like this? Subscribe to get unlimited access and support local journalism.