Oregon Football: Incoming Freshmen Most Likely to Start This Season

Kyle Kensing@kensing45Contributor IJune 27, 2014

Arrion Springs
Arrion SpringsCredit: 247Sports.com

True freshmen such as De'Anthony Thomas and Thomas Tyner have stormed onto the scene at Oregon in recent years, making instant impacts for the Ducks.  

Head coach Mark Helfrich was not shy about using first-year players in his debut season. Along with Tyner, true freshmen tight end Johnny Mundt, offensive lineman Cameron Hunt and kicker Matt Wogan started at some point last season.  

Most of the 2014 signing class arrived on campus earlier this week. A few will earn the opportunity to make similar splashes in their debut campaign.  


CB Arrion Springs 

Losing three starters from the secondary means a wide-open competition heading into preseason camp. Arrion Springs, a 4-star cornerback from San Antonio, should factor into that competition.

Springs is the latest high-profile addition from Oregon's recruiting pipeline into Texas and the most highly rated defensive prospect in the Ducks' 2014 class. He earned impressive marks across the board per 247Sports' analysis, particularly his instincts and speed. 

Those are two qualities that should play well in an Oregon secondary built to generate turnovers. Since 2010, the Ducks have ranked no worse than No. 23 nationally in interceptions, and they were the Football Bowl Subdivision leaders in 2012. 

The defensive backs' ability to exploit mistakes is an invaluable component of Oregon's overwhelming style, and Springs has the skill set to contribute immediately on that front. 

Springs will compete with veterans Troy Hill and Dior Mathis, as well as junior college transfer Dominique Harrison, for the starting cornerback spot opposite All-American Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. Whether or not he wins the starting job, expect Springs to see ample playing time in nickel and dime formations against multiple-receiver sets—of which Oregon will see plenty in the uptempo Pac-12.  


WR Jalen Brown

Only Springs and ballyhooed running back Royce Freeman earned higher marks from 247Sports than wide receiver Jalen Brown, a 4-star prospect out of Phoenix. 

Jalen Brown
Jalen BrownCredit: 247Sports.com

"Really physical receiver, can really go up and get the ball with high, strong hands" is how Helfrich described Brown to Andrew Greif of The Oregonian

Despite losing Josh Huff to the NFL and Bralon Addison to injury, Brown has an uphill climb to crack the top of the depth cart at receiver. The Ducks have veterans Dwayne Stanford and Keanon Lowe ready, and redshirt freshmen Darren Carrington and Devon Allen impressed in the spring. 

But Brown's early enrollment gave him an opportunity to work in other capacities, and vacancies on special teams could translate to an early starting role. Brown handled some kick return duties in the spring game, running back two kickoffs for 22 total yards.  

The Ducks also welcome an impressive trio of junior college transfers who could compete for starting spots, particularly if injury necessitates changes to the lineup. 

Defensive lineman Tui Talia's impressive spring game may be a springboard into the rotation, particularly if injuries become a problem for the unit, as they were late in 2013. 

Offensive guard Haniteli Lousi gives offensive line coach Steve Greatwood options on the interior, while Harrison is competing for a spot in the secondary at cornerback. 


Recruiting rankings and information culled from 247Sports.com composite scores. Statistics compiled via CFBStats.com. Spring game stats via GoDucks.com