As we get further into the offseason for the Oregon Ducks football team, coaches and players are starting to focus on what comes next. With the Spring Game set for April 27, the team will turn its attention to getting ramped up for spring practice.
A few positions will be hotly contested, more so than others at least, as the weeks of spring practice unfold.
Other positions, while wildly important, may already be closer to set in stone. Due to Dillon Gabriel’s experience and level of success compared to Dante Moore, I expect the former Sooner to have the starting quarterback job almost outright within a few days.
With such solid defensive and offensive linemen returning from last year, I’m going into spring thinking that we won’t see much change in that part of the depth chart either.
However, as Jackson Powers-Johnson heads to the NFL Draft, the center position needs to be filled. But by who?
There are options from last year’s offensive line, which was a finalist for the Joe Moore Award, such as Ajani Cornelius, Marcus Harper II, and more.
Head coach Dan Lanning has big shoes to fill, both literally and figuratively, when it comes to replacing Powers-Johnson at center. He was not only the Rimington Trophy winner but he was named the Offensive Player of the Week at the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
While Lanning might not be able to nail down who his indefinite starter is during the few weeks of spring practice, Ducks should pay attention to who is rotated into the position during the Spring Game.
While returners Jahlil Florence and Dontae Manning know Lanning’s system and how Tosh Lupoi calls an Oregon defensive game, there’s new meat on the block.
Transfer cornerback Jabbar Muhammad was one of the most sought-after players in the transfer portal this offseason. Coming out of an astonishing year with the Washington Huskies, Muhammad was a major pickup for Lanning and the Ducks.
Not to mention, the position has a good amount of depth on the roster already.
With almost all of the 23 (twenty-three), defensive backs from 2023 sticking around in Eugene as well as Lanning signing five more in his 2024 class, the position is stacked.
Florence, Manning, and Muhammad will most certainly be vying for the CB1 position on the depth chart during spring practice and most likely until the first defensive snap of the 2024 season.
Wow, the Ducks have talent out of their ears at the wide receiver position. Traeshon Holden, Tez Johnson, Justius Lowe, Gary Bryant Jr.
And those are just some of the returners.
Not to mention, elite transfer Evan Stewart from Texas A&M will be joining the squad plus the four WRs from the 2024 signing class.
Lanning knocked it out of the park once again at the wide receiver position, possibly working to compensate for the loss of all-star wideout Troy Franklin. If the roster stays as is, Lanning will have 14 incredibly talented young men to pick and choose from for the starting jobs.
That highly coveted role of WR1? I would have to put my money on Stewart and Johnson being the go-to guys for Dillon Gabriel and Dante Moore.
However, if Holden, Lowe, Bryant, or one of the new players shows a lot of promise in spring practice, I wouldn’t be completely shocked to see a fresh face starting in the slot.