Duck offense returns lots of talent

The Oregon Ducks went 9-4 last season in a season of extremes. The Ducks at times played as if they were lucky to be after thought in college football and at other times were the dominant team fans have come to expect. Gone from last year’s squad is Vernon Adams whose own dramas of eligibility and injury may have prevented Oregon from winning the conference championship.

This year, the Ducks hope to replace Adams with either transfer graduate student (fifth year senior) Dakota Prukop, 6-2, 195 or redshirt freshman Travis Jonsen, 6-3 and 194.

Both Prukop and Jonsen had a good showing in the spring game. Both are physical players that can run when necessary and have strong throwing arms. While neither may have the devastating touch on the long throw that Adams displayed, not many quarterbacks ever do.

Either Prukop or Jonsen is a better runner than Adams, though it remains to be seen if the pair can match Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

Prukop has more playing experience after having over 7,000 yards of total offense while at Montana State and being named an Associate Press All-American in the FCS Division. He had 46 touchdown passes as well as rushing for another 26 during his career at MSU.

Jonsen sat out his freshman year at Oregon due to a foot injury but was an Elite-11 quarterback coming out of Servite High School in Los Angeles two years ago. One concern that may have kept him from being a 5-star prospect was an unusual throwing motion that seems to have been corrected. To some he may be a reminder of former Duck great Akili Smith, in terms of size and stature.

The competition between Prukop and Jonsen was too close to call falling the spring and the starter likely will not be named until the Ducks begin game week before the first contest of the season against Cal-Davis following fall camp.

The No. three quarterback likely will be freshman Terry Wilson, 6-3, 195, who enrolled for spring term 2016 and had a decent showing in the spring game but is clearly behind Prukop and Jonsen as far as being ready to start. Wilson has a tremendous upside and will be a factor in the future but probably will only come out of a redshirt year if Prukop or Jonsen are injured.

Veteran redshirt senior Jeff Lockie, 6-2, 205 could be the emergency quarterback along with walk on redshirt junior Taylor Alie, 6-0 and 185. Lockie’s playing fate was sealed in the second half of the Alamo Bowl when he was put in some bad positions due to poor snaps from center.

Freshman Justin Herbert, 6-6, 215 is on campus and will have his first official practice when fall camp starts.

The problem of center has been resolved this year with redshirt freshman Jake Hanson, 6-5 and 288. Hanson has a quiet disposition when interviewed but on the field he is a competitor with a bit of mean streak. The Oregon coaches say he is a reincarnation of former Duck great Hroniss Grasu, now with the Chicago Bears.

Backing up Hanson will be redshirt freshman Zach Okun, 6-4, 310, another player that has a high upside and one who, like Hanson will not get pushed around by defenders.

Both Hanson and Okun can play several positions, which is a trademark of Steve Greatwood-coached teams, although it isn’t likely Hanson will see any other spot other than center. Okun could see action as a guard.

The rest of the offensive line will be led by junior Tyrell Crosby, 6-5, 310, senior Cam Hunt 6-4, 295, redshirt junior Evan Voeller, 6-5, 295 and redshirt junior Jake Pisarcik, 6-2, 300. Redshirt junior Doug Brenner, 6-2, 305, who, like Pisarcik could also play center in an emergency situation. 

The redshirt freshmen along with Hanson and Okun, are a talented lot and should see playing time. Calvin Throckmorton, 6-6, 290, Brady Aiello, 6-7, 275 and Shane Lemieux, 6-6, 302, will all be in the mix for playing time.

Senior transfer from Dayton, Zac Morgan, 6-7, 280, should add to the depth and it will be interesting to see how quickly he integrates into the rotation as he was not available for spring ball as he was finishing his degree requirements at Dayton in the spring before he transferred and enrolled in graduate school at Oregon for summer term.

Incoming freshmen on the line include Logan Bathke, 6-6, 260, Jacob Capra, 6-5, 300 and Samuelu Poutasi, 6-4, 330 are enrolled for summer term and will be in camp. Capra was enrolled in time for spring workouts giving him a boost in experience over the other two freshmen.

The Ducks have two invited walk-ons already on the roster, redshirt sophomore Davis Miyashiro-Saipaia, 6-2, 300 and redshirt freshman Mike Miller, 6-4, 285 with more possibly added once camp starts.

THE RUNNING BACKS

It is almost embarrassing how good the Oregon running backs are. Headlined by All-American junior Royce Freeman, 5-11, 230, who racked up 1,836 yards last season to set a new school record could end up a Heisman Trophy candidate this season.

The Ducks will shuffle in three other backs into the scheme along with Freeman and all, like Freeman can score anytime they get their hands on the ball. Redshirt junior Kani Benoit, 6-0, 210 is another bruising runner that has quick acceleration and the ability to run over tacklers is one option when Freeman is out. Redshirt sophomore Tony Brooks-James, 5-9, 185 and sophomore Taj Griffin, 5-10, 175 both possess blazing speed and can be used in the slot.

Walk-ons, redshirt senior Lane Roseberry, 6-1, 230, redshirt freshman, Langston Stuckey, 5-11, 185 and redshirt senior Jarret LaCoste, 5-11, 210 will see time in games when the Ducks have the games in hand.

WIDE RECEIVERS AND TIGHT ENDS

There is no question depth at running back is impressive, but so too is the depth at both tight end and wide receiver. Senior tight Pharaoh Brown’s return to the field will draw a standing ovation. Brown, 6-6, 250 has not played since a severe injury to his leg suffered in the Utah game on Nov. 8, 2014. He was so badly injured that doctors considered amputating his leg and his recovery and rehabilitation is an inspiring story in itself.

Brown will be joined by fellow redshirt senior Evan Baylis, 6-6, 250 and senior Johnny Mundt, 6-4, 245. All have had big game experience and have had career games that make them bigtime targets as receivers. Redshirt freshman Jacob Breeland, 6-5, 225 is a promising talent and the receiver group will be joined by true freshman Cam McCormick, 6-5 and 230.

Walk-ons redshirt freshman Ray Bay 6-4, 230 and redshirt sophomore Taylor Stinson, 6-5, 235 are also the roster headed into camp.

The talent at wide receiver could be the envy of the country with names like redshirt senior Dwayne Stanford, 6-5, 205, redshirt junior Darren Carrington, 6-2, 195 and junior Charles Nelson, 5-8, 170, who will not play on defense this season).  Redshirt junior Devon Allen, 6-0, 185 will be late joining the team as he is preoccupied with seeking a gold medal at the Rio Olympics in the 110m. Allen will rejoin the team as soon as the Olympics are over.

Add in redshirt sophomore Jalen Brown, 6-1, 200, redshirt freshman Alex Ofodile, 6-1, 6-3, 200, Dylan Kane, 6-3, 185 and Ducks have depth and future stars. True freshman, Tristen Wallace, 6-4, 235 is so versatile that he can play several positions on the field. Finally, a true freshman that was enrolled for the spring workouts has insiders in the Oregon Athletic Department calling him a “super star” in the making, Dillon Mitchell, 6-1, 190 could see significant playing time this year.

Redshirt sophomore walk-ons include Jeff Bieber, 6-2, 195, Casey Eugenio, 5-8, 180 and Chayce Maday, 5-11, 180 are list on the roster before camp starts.


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