It’s no secret to anyone involved with the Oregon Ducks football program that this year the team saw a particularly large amount of turnover. Seniors Erick Dargan, Derrick Malone, Tony Washington, Troy Hill, Ifo-Ekpre-Olomu, Hroniss Grasu, Keanon Lowe, Hamani Stevens, and Jake Fisher all played integral roles in the Ducks run in the 2014 season. But of course the real losses will be those of likely first round picks Arik Armstead and Marcus Mariota.
In total, that’s eleven starters that need to be replaced. Most of the talent lost is either on defense or on the offensive line, but also there’s that glaring issue of who will play QB for the Ducks next year. Although I’ll save that issue for a later article, let’s check out a list of some of the younger Duck starters for next season.
Freshmen: Canton Kaumatule, Malik Lovette, Kirk Merritt, Ugo Amadi, and Fotu Leiato could all see significant playing time next season.
Sophomores: Darren Carrington, Devon Allen, Royce Freeman, Doug Brenner, Charles Nelson, Chris Seisay, Ian Wheeler, and Aidan Schneider are all expected to start in 2015.
Now look, although it’s unlikely that all of the freshmen listed see starter-level playing time, it’s not impossible. Kaumatule is expected to start on the line immediately, and both Lovette and Merritt are listed as athletes who could both help the Ducks in their weakest areas right now: the secondary. Amadi is another promising DB who could help out, and as for Leiato — the guy is simply unblockable (see below).
As for the sophomores, we Duck fans already know the talent they possess. They proved they deserved a spot on the field last season, and will all see an increase in playing time in 2015. This isn’t to say there won’t be veteran leadership on the team – trust me, there will be plenty.
If anything though, as fans, this 2015 team should have you excited to be a Duck fan. This is a young group that could be playing together, as starters, for three or more years.
Top photo by Craig Strobeck