This isn’t the way Dontae Manning expected to win the starting job, but the freshman cornerback is going to take advantage of the circumstances which suddenly struck Oregon football.
After an off-field incident involving Jamal Hill and DJ James, Mario Cristobal decided to suspend both players indefinitely. They had a lapse of judgement the week of the start of fall camp which was more than disappointing and that had to have let their teammates down.
Oregon now has two big voids to fill on the defensive side of the ball as the Ducks are down a couple of projected starters in the secondary.
Hill was expected to have a breakout season at nickelback while James was already facing an intense battle for the starting cornerback job with Manning. I always kind of favored Manning getting the start and thought he’d eventually win the job, but this pretty much cements it.
The freshman was a five-star in the 2020 class, ranked the No. 30 overall recruit in the country and fourth-best cornerback. He played in just one game as a true freshman but he now has a year of experience under his belt and he has the talent to keep the starting job when James does eventually come back.
I’ve pined for the duo of Manning and Mykael Wright at cornerback and it’s finally taking shape before our eyes.
Oregon football finally has that ‘deadly duo’
There’s a reason Manning was so highly rated, and we’re about to see just why national 247Sports writer Charles Power compared him to Marshon Lattimore, and called him a future first-round prospect.
Wright is considered a potential first-team All-Pac-12 candidate heading into the 2021 season while Manning could be one of the best freshmen in the country.
Oregon will be at its best in 2021 with Manning and Wright starting at the two cornerback spots and opposing quarterbacks will have a nightmare of a time passing the ball against the Ducks. Unfortunately, the defense is also at its best when Hill is starting at nickel.
I believe that even when James and Hill return, Manning holds onto that starting job. Oh, and Hill will regain his starting spot — although he’ll have to get back on Cristobal’s good side.
Tim DeRuyter’s decision just got a heck of a lot easier at cornerback with James suspended as the right guy will now be the projected starter.
The start of the Manning era brings plenty of intrigue.