Welcome back for the second of my two part segment. The wait is now over as I release my top five most important players for the upcoming season. I know many of you will have differing opinions on who should be in the top five and where they should be ranked. Keep in mind that this is my opinion as I see it and I would love to hear from my readers. Do you agree? Where would you rank the players? Who do you think I left out that should be in the top 10?
5. De’Anthony Thomas
I know many people will think he should be higher on my list, but I have other players ranked higher because I feel they are more important to the success of the team as a whole. It goes without saying that The Black Mamba is one of, if not the best player on the team. Players like Thomas only come along once a decade, if ever.
In just two seasons, Thomas has put up 3,992 yards and 36 touchdowns. Having a player as lethal as Thomas opens up the field for every other offensive player. When De’Anthony Thomas goes in motion in the backfield, opposing defensive players start to sweat. Every opposing coach must game plan for where he is on the field at all times. That opens up opportunities for Oregon’s wideouts to get open, running backs to see more holes, and bruising tight ends to have their way. De’Anthony Thomas has been paramount to the Ducks’ success over the past two seasons. This could potentially be his last season as a Duck, though I pray I am wrong.
4. Joe Walker
Joe Walker comes to Oregon from Los Angeles Harbor Community College. Having watched him play in the spring game, I am convinced that he will have an immediate impact on the 2013 season. Walker is a smart, football savvy player who can pick up a defense quickly. Everybody knows that linebacker is one of the biggest question marks for Oregon this season. Linebacker is also one of if not the most important position on defense as they must pressure the quarterback, stop the run, and drop into coverage against the pass. With Boseko Lokombo and Tyson Coleman pretty much being locked in to start, the third linebacker position is open for competition. I have Walker in my number four spot because even if he doesn’t start, which I think he will. He adds desperately needed depth and will create some great competition between the other backers.
3. Matt Wogan
Coming in at number three on my list is another unknown quantity. Matt Wogan, from Porter Ridge High School in North Carolina. Wogan is widely known as one of the best kickers in the nation coming out of high school. He can consistently hit 55+ yard field goals. Add to that fact that he is a great punter, and great at kickoffs, and it is apparent why he is my number three pick. I have him listed this high whether or not he starts. Having a player with the skill set of Wogan on the team will force other players to work as hard as possible to stay above him on the depth chart. Add his skill set to the fact that he will create some excellent competition at one of the most important positions on the field, and that is why he is my number three pick.
2. Marcus Mariota
This one should be completely obvious to everyone. Not only is quarterback the most important position on the field, but having one as good as Mariota makes it even more crucial. Mariota’s stats as a first year player were great. He threw for 2,677 yards and 32 touchdowns with just six interceptions. He also connected on 68.5% of his throws and ended the season as the 6th most efficient passer in the nation. Mariota is the true leader of this team, and how he goes, so goes the season. Mariota is second on my list because without him, Oregon is nowhere near as dangerous. He is potentially the best quarterback to ever play a snap at Oregon, and he has all the pieces in place to make yet another run at the National Championship.
1. Byron Marshall
Coming in as the most important player for the 2013 season is running back Byron Marshall. Not just for the fact that he is more than likely the starting back. How he progresses as a player effects the careers of incoming running backs Thomas Tyner and Kani Benoit. If Marshall can fill in the gap left by Kenjon Barner, and stay healthy, there is just enough depth at the position to redshirt both incoming freshman. Oregon fans have been spoiled for the last four years having Barner and LaMichael James, Oregon’s top two leading rushers in school history. Those are huge shoes for Marshall to fill. Also, depending on how well Marshall does will effect the passing game and how much Mariota will be able to go to the air. Will the read option be as effective? Will opposing defenses have to worry about both Marshall and Mariota running? Will they be able to key in on Mariota because Marshall isn’t as much of a threat? All of those questions lead to Marshall being the most important component, not just for this season, but for the years to come.
That wraps up my top ten most important players for the 2013 season. I would love to have some feedback! Even post your own top ten most important players in the comments section. I look forward to seeing who you think I left off of this list, and who you think shouldn’t have made it.