While LaMichael James was the biggest name to leave Oregon and head to the pros, Darron Thomas may prove to be the most important Duck to leave school early.
With the departure of Thomas, the Ducks are left with a huge question mark at quarterback as both Bryan Bennett and Marcus Mariota will look to compete for the starting job.
During the spring and summer, both of these two guys will go back and forth trying to earn the starting job and while Mariota has the skill set to lead the Ducks, it is Bennett's job to lose.
Here are five reasons why Bennett should and will be the starter for Oregon.
One thing about Chip Kelly's offense is he recruits speed and talent. Bennett is no exception to this rule as the kid has wheels and can flat out run.
Last year with Darron Thomas under center, the Ducks did not utilize many runs by the quarterback, and when they did, Thomas did not have breakaway speed. This year, if the read is for the quarterback to keep the ball, then Bennett has the ability to explode to and through the hole.
Guts can be a good thing and a bad thing now that Bennett is making a run at being the starter. It is a good thing because Bennett showed last year that he can be relied on in tough spots. Being thrown into a tight conference game and then starting on the road in conference are not easy, and Bennett handled it flawlessly.
On the other hand, Bennett showed the ability to take a hit but still try to make the play. While this is great to see, the hope is that he will take less hits and remain healthy throughout the season.
Even as a backup, Bennett knew that if given the chance, he could lead this team. When coming in during spot duty last year, Bennett had control of the offense and wasn't afraid to be the guy.
This year, when you watch interviews and listen to other players speak, it becomes even more clear that Bennett is a leader on and off the field and has his team behind him.
While getting some time on the field last year, one thing that became obvious was that Bennett had a good grasp on the zone read portion of the Ducks offense.
This offense relies on the quarterbacks ability to make the correct read on almost every play, and Bennett has that skill. Routinely, Bennett showed the ability to make the correct read, and with having an entire offseason to work on it more, he should be even better during 2012.
Granted the Ducks have a schedule that will allow them to ease into the season, but the experience that Bryan Bennett gained last year is invaluable.
During a huge game against Arizona State, Bennett came off the bench in a tight game and looked great leading the Ducks to a win. He also started on the road in Colorado and was impressive in that game as well.
While Bennett has received some mop-up duties, he also came in during some big spots and kept the Ducks on track. This experience will help him during this quarterback battle.