Oregon Football: 5 Surprising Studs of Spring Practice
Spring practice season is a time for a program's unknown contributors to make an impact. Newcomers and reserves at Oregon are using this time to solidify spots on the 2014 depth chart.
Some notable standouts on both the offensive and defensive ends have stepped up for the Ducks through the spring practice season, which is in its home stretch this week.
Head coach Mark Helfrich told reporters that Saturday's spring game could emulate a live-action game, via Andrew Greif of The Oregonian.
For those surprising Ducks, Saturday is one last opportunity to make a lasting impression before the team breaks for summer.
*Statistics compiled via CFBStats.com.
WR Devon Allen
Devon Allen made headlines this spring for his performance in the hurdles for the Oregon track and field team. He could generate even more headlines in the fall with the Ducks on the football field.
Allen is already establishing himself in a deep wide receiving corps during spring practices.
"The way he's able to jump around from football to track says a lot about his abilities," quarterback Marcus Mariota said after Monday's scrimmage, via Gary Horowitz of the Statesman Journal. "He's doing well this spring."
In an offense built on speed, it's no wonder a track standout would translate well to the scheme.
"In football there are a few moving parts, and him being able to cut it loose and play at his track speed is starting to happen more and more," Helfrich said, per Matt Prehm of Duck Territory. "As a result of that he's starting to make more plays."
Oregon will certainly need Allen to make some plays come fall after the shakeup the wide receiving corps sustained two weeks ago, losing Bralon Addison to a knee injury on April 16.
DL Stetzon Bair
Building depth along the defensive line was a particular point of emphasis entering spring. The performance of Stetzon Bair is a positive development to that end.
Bair was a standout of last week's scrimmage, earning time with the first string defense.
"I knew I’d have some opportunities to be up there with that group,” he said, via Rob Moseley of GoDucks.com. “I knew I had to prove myself there, so I had to take advantage of it."
Bair certainly has the pedigree to contribute on the Ducks defensive line. His brother Brandon was an All-Conference selection on Oregon's 2010-11 team, which played in the BCS National Championship Game.
RB Kani Benoit
Carries can come at a premium in a backfield that features star running backs like Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner, but redshirt freshman Kani Benoit is making his case to factor into the rotation.
Kani is a very productive runner. He doesn’t look like LaMichael James or Kenjon Barner or some of the other guys we’ve grown accustomed to, but especially in 11-on-11 situations, he’s been a very productive runner.
The Ducks totaled 568 rushing attempts last season, and the departure of do-everything running back De'Anthony Thomas frees up 96 of those carries. Perhaps Benoit can be the man to take on that a portion of that workload.
LB Oshay Dunmore
Athletic and energetic seems to be the consensus of Oshay Dunmore's game. GoDucks.com editor Rob Moseley describes him as "a guy who brings it every day."
Dunmore is bringing it at outside linebacker in spring practices, making his case to replace Boseko Lokombo. The redshirt sophomore played in 11 games last season, recording nine tackles, but his limited role last year was perhaps a springboard for something much more substantial in 2014.
CB Dominique Harrison
Junior college transfer Dominique Harrison hit the ground running. The 3-star signee from Contra Costa College in San Pablo, California, is acclimating to his role in the Ducks secondary quickly.
He earned first-team repetitions at the cornerback position opposite All-American Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, per GoDucks.com, and has garnered praise from teammates.
"He’s good at shadowing, he’s good at being in the right place at the right time. He had some keys plays even in this scrimmage," quarterback Marcus Mariota told The Oregonian after the Ducks' April 21 scrimmage, in which Harrison returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown.
Harrison is competing with veterans Troy Hill and Dior Mathis for the starting cornerback spot, but his play in spring practice has laid the foundation for him to break into the rotation in 2014.