The Oregon Ducks football team lost some wide receiver depth Monday, when Kirk Merritt elected to transfer out of the program before his sophomore season.
The pass-catcher took to Twitter to announce his decision and thank the coaching staff:
Tyson Alger of the Oregonian noted that Merritt also ran track for the school and was a speedster on the football field.
The receiver arrived on campus as part of the 2015 class as a 4-star recruit, per 247Sports' composite rankings, and the No. 7 overall player from the state of Louisiana. Merritt represented a solid recruiting pickup for head coach Mark Helfrich and the rest of the Oregon staff because he was a fast playmaker from SEC territory.
While his talent was clear, he was used primarily on special teams during his freshman campaign in 2015. He finished with five catches for 61 yards and tallied one kick return for 28 yards.
However, the Ducks lost both Bralon Addison and Byron Marshall from their 2015 team, and Merritt figured to see an increase in playing time with a couple of openings at the wide receiver spot, especially since Oregon uses an uptempo pace and often subs receivers in and out throughout a game.
Kristen Rodgers of KEZI 9 News in Eugene, Oregon, pointed out that "a lot of his teammates said he would be the guy to watch this season" when discussing Merritt.
The cupboard still isn’t bare for Oregon at the wide receiver spot. Alger called true freshman Dillon Mitchell "the standout receiver of the spring." If Mitchell lives up to that billing, he can fill the void left by Merritt’s departure.
The Ducks also have Dwayne Stanford, Darren Carrington and Charles Nelson as proven pass-catchers entering the 2016 season.
Merritt never lived up to his potential in an Oregon uniform, but the Pac-12 powerhouse still has enough wide receivers to remain competitive as it looks to build on a 9-4 season from 2015.