There will be lots of fresh faces on the Oregon receiving units in 2017.
Key players are gone from last year’s team with wide receivers Devon Allen pursuing a professional track career, Dwayne Stanford graduating and Darren Carrington recently being released from team and reportedly transferring to Utah. The Ducks also lost a trio of experienced tight ends with Pharaoh Brown, Johnny Mundt and Evan Baylis all graduating, meaning there are opportunities at both positions for players to compete.
A duo that could be ready to fill the void at wide receiver are senior Charles Nelson and sophomore Dillon Mitchell. The unit’s depth chart will come out after fall camp, but one thing should be certain, look for Nelson and Mitchell to lead this group heading into the season opener.
Nelson, who has spent time on both offense and defense, will be looked at to lead a relatively inexperienced unit in 2017. Expect Nelson to be a focal point of an offense that will use him for lots of bubble screens and option plays.
Mitchell came to Oregon as a four-star recruit, according to Rivals.com, but he didn’t make his season debut until the fourth week of the season against Colorado due to an injury suffered earlier in fall camp. His season never took off after a promising 2016 spring game where he had two touchdowns.
The wide receiver group, with eight freshmen on the roster, will need young playmakers to step up and make an impact on the new coaching staff. Some names to watch are freshman Darrian McNeal, Jaylon Redd, and sophomores Alex Ofodile and Malik Lovette.
At tight end the Ducks will be starting from scratch after the loss of the three playmakers from last year’s team.
Jacob Breeland is the most experienced returner and will likely get the first look at the starting tight end spot. The sophomore played in 11 games last season and caught 6 passes for 123 yards and didn’t find the end zone. Behind Breeland, Cam McCormick is a redshirt freshman who also could make an impact this season.
Projected Depth Chart:
WR: Charles Nelson, Sr.
WR: Dillon Mitchell, So.
WR: Alex Ofodile, So.
TE: Jacob Breeland, So.
Backups to watch
WR: Redd, McNeal, Lovette, Deadwood Davis, Fr.
TE: Cam McCormick, R-Fr., Matt Mariota, So.
Outside of Nelson, there are several holes that need to be filled. However, having so much inexperience creates opportunities for players to make a name for themselves in 2017.
Follow Zak Laster on Twitter: @zlast3445