While Marcus Mariota and De'Anthony Thomas get the headlines, the Oregon Ducks have an additional element in their already high profile offense. In his final year, after a roller coaster ride of success, injuries, position tweaks and maturation, Ducks' wide receiver Josh Huff has emerged as not only a serious threat in all facets of the game, but an invaluable leader of the Oregon offense.
Huff, who has flashed NFL potential during an up and down career, has had plenty of great moments in different roles for the Ducks but injuries and inconsistency had kept him from emerging as a bona fide star, until now. With Huff's improved health, maturation and steadily increasing productivity, the Ducks finally have a wide receiver corps to match the rest of their offense.
Oregon has always had solid wide receivers that fit the system with their willingness to embrace the, "no block, no rock," mantra instilled by Chip Kelly and former receivers' coach (current offensive coordinator) Scott Frost. No disrespect to the recent crop of Oregon wide receivers because they have served a very valuable role and some have even gone on to the NFL. For the first time in years the Ducks have an elite, versatile and dynamic receiving corps that has helped take their offense to yet another level.
Coming out of Nimitz high school in Houston as an all-around star who played quarterback, running back, wide receiver and defensive back, Huff arrived in Eugene with high expectations. While he wasn't always the most consistent receiver on campus, Huff has played many valuable roles throughout his career for the Ducks.
As a freshman Huff was second on the team in total yards behind Doak Walker Award winner LaMichael James as a result of his versatility and kick return productivity. He totaled 19 catches for 303 yards and three touchdowns and carried the ball 12 times for 214 and two more scores in his first season as a Duck.
As a sophomore, Huff caught 31 passes for 430 yards and two touchdowns while battling injuries and inconsistent play, which lead to rumors of an impending transfer somewhere closer to home. Huff decided to stay put and for good reason. He is the perfect fit for the Ducks. He is a home run threat with the ball in his hand and understands the way the Ducks' offense works. His leadership and work ethic have set an example for the Ducks' young and talented receivers. In 2012 Huff compiled 32 catches for 493 yards and seven touchdowns despite missing four games due to ongoing injury issues.
As a senior, the Ducks’ leading receiver is healthy and has raised his game. In 2013, Huff leads the team with 14 catches for 298 yards and a score in limited playing time due to the Ducks' 184-27 point differential. In addition to being a team leader, big play threat and the Ducks' leading man out wide, Huff works hard to contribute any way he can, as demonstrated by a blocked punt against Virginia.
The Ducks likely have their deepest, most talented receiving corps in years. They have a healthy Huff and a breakout star in sophomore Bralon Addison. Addison, who is part Josh Huff, part De'Anthony Thomas came to the Ducks in 2012 alongside his cousin, WR Chance Allen. Addison and Allen were aided in their decisions to de-commit from Texas A&M and Oklahoma State respectively as a result of Huff's success in Eugene. The two Houston-area recruits look to be the future of the Ducks' receiving corps and along with Huff, make Houston a future destination for Oregon recruiting trips.
Here is a look at Huff's numbers throughout his career in Eugene. As you can see, he started off as a more multi-purpose threat as the Ducks tried to identify his strengths and weaknesses in order to best use his immense talent. He averaged over 17/YPC as a freshman and even lobbied to be moved to running back following his freshman year. His return duties have been mostly eliminated due an influx of speed and talent with the likes of De'Anthony Thomas, Lowe and Addison taking over the kick return duties.
His numbers won't ever come close to the likes of a Marqise Lee because of the system he plays in and the number of play makers around him. Numbers are one thing. Effort, talent and leadership are another. The NFL scouts like what they see in Huff and believe he could be a valuable addition to an NFL roster as receiver, kick returner and special teams star. Most scouting projections have Huff rated as a fourth-round pick at wide receiver in next year's draft class.
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