Following in the footsteps of wide receiver Aaron Pflugrad, backup quarterback Justin Roper has decided to transfer and was recently granted his release by Oregon.
Despite entering last season as the starter following an injury to Nate Costa, Roper was sidelined early in the season (first by a concussion suffered in the opener against Washington, and then by a knee injury at Purdue) and lost the starting job to JC transfer Jeremiah Masoli.
Despite a superb spring game, Roper was once again listed as a backup, this time to Masoli, who, after struggling throwing throughout much of the season, blossomed in the last three games of 2008.
Less mobile than the other quarterbacks on Oregon's roster, some fans considered Roper a poor fit for the spread option scheme run by Chip Kelley. However, Roper was undefeated as a starter and showed good decision-making ability on a consistent basis.
As a redshirt junior, Roper is experienced and has proven his ability to play quarterback against top-tier competition. At 6'6", he can make throws other players cannot, and though no Dennis Dixon with his legs, he is mobile in the pocket and can scramble for needed yards if a play breaks down.
I would assume almost any FCS program would be happy to offer Roper a scholarship if he wants to use both of his remaining years of eligibility (he has already used his redshirt year).
I am sure a number of FBS programs would be very interested as well.
Though it would break my heart to see him play for a conference opponent, I would think quarterback needy Washington State would take a long look at Roper if he decided he was interested in playing in Pullman.
Roper's departure makes Jeremiah Masoli's health paramount to the Ducks' success in 2009. Nate Costa has the full confidence of the offensive coaches but no starting experience and has been limited in practice due to multiple knee injuries.
Nevertheless, I suspect Costa will be the backup this season, as Kelley will want to salvage a redshirt year for Darron Thomas.
This makes for the second important (though not crucial) player to ask for a release since Kelley became head coach.
Should Ducks fans be concerned?
Are these transfers even related to the coaching change, or would they have happened if Mike Bellotti had stayed another season?
Please share your thoughts in the comments section.