Oregon Football: 5 Duck Players That Must Come Up Huge in 2012

Joe PenkalaCorrespondent IJanuary 17, 2012

Oregon Football: 5 Duck Players That Must Come Up Huge in 2012

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    For the past three years Oregon has continued to find a way to retool its offense and stay on top of the Pac-12 conference. 

    Seemingly every year, the Ducks have entered the season with question marks but have found a way to overcome offseason losses and changes.

    This year, the Ducks will enter the offseason without LaMichael James, the school's all-time leading rusher, and Darron Thomas, a two-year starter that only lost three games at Oregon. 

    With a shot at a fourth straight conference title, here is a look at five Oregon players that must step up for the Ducks to defend their title. 


Bryan Bennett

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    Without a doubt, the most important person to the Ducks success in 2012 will be the play of Bryan Bennett, the new Oregon starter.

    Not many people believed that Darron Thomas would leave after his junior year, but the nice part is during the 2011 season, Bennett saw some game action, including a start at Colorado.

    Bennett has impressed since arriving at Oregon, and many believe that he has a better arm and is faster out of the backfield than Thomas was. If Bennett can get comfortable in the role of being the starter, the Ducks will be in good hands. 

Kenjon Barner

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    Much like Bryan Bennett, Kenjon Barner is stepping into some huge shoes, and while he cannot replace a talent like LaMichael James, he should be able to step in and keep the Oregon running game humming along. 

    Barner has been helping carry the load for the past two years, so it will be interesting to see how he handles an increased work load through an entire season. 

Josh Huff

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    During the 2011 season, Josh Huff had high expectations, but a leg injury during spring practice set him back through the entire season. It hampered how explosive Huff could be, and ultimately he was rarely heard from during the year.

    This year, Huff should be fully healed and ready to go, which is a good thing for a wide receiver group that lacks experience and big play ability.

    If Huff is able to be as effective and explosive as he was in his freshman season, the Ducks will have another weapon back in the fold. 

DeAnthony Thomas

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    While DeAnthony Thomas had an incredible freshman season for the Ducks, more is expected out of him in his sophomore season.

    Thomas is the key in a lot of phases at Oregon as he is a contributor in the return game, running game and passing game.

    With a full offseason to immerse himself in the Ducks playbook and give Kelly time to think up new schemes, Thomas could be a unbelievable weapon. 

John Boyett

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    While the Ducks will look for explosive plays out of the offense, John Boyett will be a key to the Oregon defense in 2012. 

    With the youth that will be at the corners and loss of Eddie Pleasant, Boyett's leadership and talent will be more important than ever before. 


    Joe Penkala is a B/R National Featured Columnist who covers college football. You can contact him @joepenkala.