Oregon Football: 5 Postions with Most Depth Heading into 2013
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The Oregon Ducks will enter the 2013 as one of the favorites to end the SEC's reign of capturing BCS titles.
One reason for such optimism is the return of several star players. Marcus Mariota, De'Anthony Thomas, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and countless others make up a talent-rich roster that few teams can match.
But few outside Eugene realize that perhaps an even bigger key to the Ducks' success is the depth they've built over the past few seasons. Nearly every position on the team has the ability to withstand an injury or two.
But some spots have even more depth than others and those positions could be the biggest reason for a return trip to the BCS.
Let's take a look at the five positions with the most depth heading into the 2013 season.
QB Marcus Mariota
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Quarterback may come as a surprising choice considering Marcus Mariota is the most indispensable player on the entire team.
But I never said the depth had to be proven.
Next season, the Ducks will have four scholarship quarterbacks on their roster, and both candidates vying for the backup spot will have been in the system for a year.
After Mariota, both Jeff Lockie and Jake Rodrigues have the talent to step in and be effective. Lockie is the more cerebral player, while Rodrigues is bursting with athleticism. But each guy has the skill set needed to run Oregon's high-octane offense.
After that, the incoming Damion Hobbs will likely get a year to watch and learn from the Autzen sidelines. Beyond him, walk-on quarterback Dustin Haines is a glue guy who knows the offense inside and out.
There's no doubt that an injury to Mariota would be devastating. But the quarterback position has a ton of talent and luckily for us, we should finally get to see it in the spring game and in the second half of blowout victories. (Not that Nicholls State won't be challenging....)
S Avery Patterson was a breakout star this past season.
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It's odd that one of the main positions the Ducks need to recruit next season is on this list as having a ton of depth.
But think back to this past season, when both John Boyett and Avery Patterson went down with season-ending injuries. Things still turned out OK, right?
Brian Jackson and Patterson headline the group, but backup Erick Dargan has too much talent not to see the field, and he showed it in the Fiesta Bowl. Isaac Dixon was another player who received plenty of time in the secondary.
Redshirt freshman Reggie Daniels could be one of this season's breakout players, and several incoming recruits, like Chris Seisay and Tyree Robinson, could have a major impact at the position in the coming years.
Fans will surely be crossing their fingers that the safety position can avoid any long-term injuries, but if they do occur, the Ducks are in solid shape to withstand the losses.
LB Boseko Lokombo
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I'm cheating a little bit with the linebacker position by including the drop-end guys. But hey, they're listed as linebackers, right?
Despite Boseko Lokombo being the only starter to return from the 2012 squad, the linebacker position is filled with more talent and depth than ever before.
After Lokombo, Derrick Malone, Tyson Coleman, Rahim Cassell and junior college transfer Joe Walker should all be competing for the remaining spots. Carlyle Garrick is another name that could see the field as well.
In the recruiting class, Danny Mattingly, Torrodney Prevot and Tyrell Robinson all have the talent to become big-time linebackers, and it'll be interesting to see if any or all get playing time next year.
Then you have retuning drop-end man Tony Washington, who may crack the first string for the Ducks.
A lot of the names listed are unproven and have major work to do if they hope to live up to the legacies left by Kiko Alonso and Michael Clay. But the talent and depth are there, and it should continue to be a strong position for years to come.
WR Keanon Lowe
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The Oregon Ducks graduated Rahsaan Vaughn and Will Murphy from the 2012 team. I think it's fair to say that with everybody else returning, the depth at wide receiver will be like never before.
Josh Huff is the headliner, followed by Keanon Lowe and Daryle Hawkins. Behind that trio, you'll find Bralon Addison, B.J. Kelley, Dwayne Stanford and Eric Dungy, all of whom contributed last season.
Let's not count out Mr. lightning De'Anthony Thomas either, who, in addition to carrying the ball, will be one of Marcus Mariota's main targets in the passing game.
Add to that group the arrival of Darren Carrington and Devon Allen, and you have more talent than most teams know what to do with.
It may sound like a broken record, but a lot of the talent is unproven. Still, with flashes of brilliance from each one of these guys, you have the right to be confident in the wide receiver position for quite some time.
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The tradition of producing NFL tight ends isn't going to stop anytime soon.
Everybody knows what the Ducks have in Colt Lyerla—a superhuman robot destined to help win football games with his freakish athleticism. OK, so he probably bleeds like everyone else, but he's darn near unstoppable in the open field.
After Lyerla, Koa Ka'ai and Pharaoh Brown both show tons of potential. There's a good chance we'll see them featured more heavily in the 2013 offense.
Then there's the super talented Evan Baylis and the wild card, sophomore T.J. Daniel. If the Ducks were put in a bind, any one of the aforementioned players could likely step in and contribute on offense.
Incoming recruit Johnny Mundt was highly regarded as well, giving Oregon perhaps the deepest group of tight ends in the entire country.