After losing their top two receivers in Jeff Maehl and D.J. Davis, the Ducks need to reload at the crucial wide receiver position. With the style of play the Ducks use, a large number of receivers will need to be in the rotation. There are sixteen wide receivers on the official Ducks roster and I'll go through and rank 'em all: The four incoming freshman, three redshirt freshman, six sophomores, two juniors and the lone senior. With only the top two receivers in place, the depth chart is wide open and spots in the rotation are for the taking. Will the talented group of freshmen getting playing time, or will it be the established players that know the offense better. Read on and see what I think.
Lavasier stretches out for a catch in the natty
Lavasier should come in and provide the senior leadership the Ducks so desperately need at the wideout position. Tuinei is the lone senior and with this being his third year in Eugene should have a good hold on the offense. Tuinei showed flashes of brilliance as the slot receiver last year but is more suited to play split end (outisde). Tuinei is a great physical specimen at 6'5 but needs to be more consistent and give EVERY play his all this season for the Ducks to be successful. If Tuinei can live up to his potential, Duck fans will be 'passin the lavasier' all season.
Josh Huff had an incredible freshman and played an integral role in the Ducks run to the National Championship game. Huff showed his immense football IQ by being able to pick up Oregon's offense as a true freshman and amassing over 1000 all-purpose yards as returner, receiver and runner. Huff came out of Houston, Texas as a running back and played a lot of "Tzr" for the Ducks last year. Huff will move from the Tzr role to the more conventional (if we can even use that word in Chip Kelly's offense) flanker receiver and take on more of a leadership role. With Huff's speed, playmaking ability, and perfect fit in Oregon's offense the sky is the limit.
Hawkins has been circulating between quarterback, running back and wide receiver in his two years in Eugene. This year he will hopefully be playing receiver full time and get the chance to show his versatility and agility. Hawkins knows the playbook well and that could be the key to getting playing time.
Hoffman walked on in 2008 but earned his scholarship by gaining the reputation as one of the hardest workers on the team. Although Hoffman only had three catches last year, he played in all but two games and was instrumental as a blocker for Oregon's array of screen passes.
Cole has been in the program for a few years and is a good downfield blocker at 6'3. If he could pick up some weight Cole might be able to get some more playing time.
Vaughn should become the first recruit to crack the rotation at receiver. Vaughn is more polished than the other receivers and was rated the number one juco wideout in the nation. If Rahsaan gets familiar with the playbook I think he could rise as high as number three on the depth chart. When I watch the video of him I see shades of Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant.
Tacoi Sumler is possibly the fastest Duck recruit this year and could be the fastest Duck on the team after being clocked in the 40 at 4.24. Although he is only 5'9 he showcases elite jumping ability and there is a chance he could make an impact for the Ducks this year.
Will "Murph Dog" Murphy comes in at number eight on this list. Murphy got a lot of playing time in the spring game, showing off his lankiness and surprising burst of speed. This will be Murphy's 4th year in Eugene after playing at West Albany High School and will make an impact at receiver or in special teams.
Devon Blackmon is the one selection I couldn't really put my hands on. His supreme agility gives his a chance to be a tremendous receiver for the Ducks but he is still very raw. In High School he played the majority of time as an option quarterback and will need to transition to wideout. I think Blackmon will make a big impact for the Ducks, just not this year.
Blake Cantu has shown he has the ability to play at the college level but has been constantly hampered by injuries. If Cantu can stay healthy he may have the opportunity to be in the receiver rotation.
Lowe is somewhat of a mystery for the Ducks. He was rated a four- star recruit by some outlets but hasn't cracked the rotation yet. He showed versatility and speed in high school but this hasn't translated to the college level yet. Lowe may be able to find a niche at returner.
Eric Dungy was a 2-star receiver from Tampa that redshirted last year. The son of famous coach Tony Dungy, when he first came to campus I thought he got a scholarship because of his dad. However when I watched Dungy on the field I saw some size and speed. As Dungy matures in the Duck offense he may get a chance to get some snaps.
B.J. Kelley is a talented, long receiver from Fresno, Ca. I think the Ducks will have to redshirt at least one of their receiver recruits and I think Kelley could be the prime target for the redshirt. In the the first week of fall camp, reports are that Kelley has struggled so far. If Kelley gains some more muscle, he could be a dangerous weapon for the Ducks in the mold of Jeff Maehl.
Blake Stanton is a redshirt freshman from Crespi High School, which is a well known football factory just outside of Los Angeles. Stanton came to Eugene as a three star recruit but isn't primed to get much playing time for the Ducks due to the depth ahead of him.
After walking on, this will be Ben Butterfield's third year on campus. Butterfield started at receiver during the spring game but won't be able to see much time at receiver.
Chad Delaney is also a walk-on who will be entering his second year on campus. Last year Delaney was the scout team special teamer of the year, so he may be able to find playing time on special teams.
Kenjon Barner will be heavily used in the TZR role this season, which is a mixture of running back and receiver. Barner has great hands and most importantly is great whenever he gets the ball in his hands. With Lamichael James at RB and Kenjon at TZR, the Ducks will be electrifying and hard to stop.
De'Anthony Thomas is one of the most high profile recruits ever to come to the U of O. Right now it is likely Thomas could be used in the TZR position to be put in space for him to get the ball. While I think he should be redshirted this season and possibly moved to Cornerback, in Chip we trust.