Best WR Corps in School History Will Ease Transition Away From Mariota


The quarterback may fill the most important role on the football field, but he is nothing without his wide receivers. That said, there is perhaps no receiving corps in the nation feeling more pressure than that of the Oregon Ducks, in the wake of Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota’s departure to the NFL.

Every fan is familiar with this quarterback storyline. However, the Ducks have not been known for elite receivers in the recent past. This blue-collar position group is known more for its toughness and run-blocking prowess than its downfield threat level.

This is not to say that the program has not produced great players. Over the past 10 or 12 seasons, Oregon has had standouts such as Josh Huff, Jeff Maehl, Demetrius Williams and Samie Parker. However, pure 1,000-yard receivers have been rare. In fact, Maehl even came to Oregon as a safety prospect.

Devon Allen will be a leader among Oregon's receivers in 2015

Kevin Cline

Devon Allen

Other programs such as Baylor, TCU, Clemson and USC have become factories for play-makers at the receiver position over the past few years. These teams stand at the top of the list in the minds of many in terms of wide receiver talent.

While the Ducks may not thrive on the outside the same way that these other powerhouses do, the case could easily be made that Oregon’s 2015 receiving corps is not only the best in school history, but also the best in the country.

Over the past 15 seasons, only four times has Oregon returned a wide receiver with 700 or more yards in one season during their career (Williams, Parker, Jaison Williams, and Keenan Howry). This year alone, the Ducks return three players who meet this criterion: Byron Marshall (1,003 yards), Darren Carrington (704 yards) and Bralon Addison. Addison, who is returning after missing last season with a torn ACL, recorded 890 yards in 2013.

Had Devon Allen (684 yards) not been injured at the beginning of the Rose Bowl against Florida State, he would have likely joined his three teammates and allowed the Ducks to match their total of the past 15 years in one season alone.

Heading into 2015, Oregon’s lone significant loss at receiver is Keanon Lowe, the only departure to record more than 50 yards in 2014. On top of that, the team returns arguably its most skilled and versatile outside threat in Addison.

Bralon Addison

Kevin Cline

Bralon Addison

Before factoring Addison’s return, the Ducks return 89 percent of their receiving yardage from a year ago. Including Addison’s yardage from 2013, that number becomes 108 percent. It should be noted that Carrington, whose suspension is ongoing, and tight end Pharaoh Brown, who is making a remarkable but careful recovery from a devastating leg injury suffered in 2014, may not be available to start the season. However, even if these two were not included, the numbers still certainly display the production of this year’s group in comparison to those in school history.

Before last year, Oregon had lost at least one 500-yard-plus receiver since Chip Kelly took over as head coach in 2009 (with the exception of 2013, when there were none). The 2015 season marks the first season in recent memory that the Ducks return all of their primary targets.

But how do the Ducks’ receivers stack up against others in the nation heading into 2015? Among all programs in Power Five conferences, Oregon is the only team to return five players (Marshall, Dwayne Stanford, Brown, Carrington, and Allen) who have recorded at least 400 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 2014. Again, this does not include Addison, who easily surpassed those marks in 2013.

To put this into perspective, Texas A&M is the only team to return four players that meet these benchmarks, and only Baylor, Cal, North Carolina and TCU even have three. Oregon has six including Addison.

Marcus Mariota

Kevin Cline

Marcus Mariota

Clearly, Oregon’s depth and production at receiver is unmatched. Still, some may argue that the production is due in large part to Mariota’s immense talent. While this is a fair point, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Mariota certainly helped these players maximize their potential to this point, but clearly they have also demonstrated their individual abilities. Allen, Carrington, Stanford, Addison, Marshall and Brown all earned four stars as recruits before arriving in Eugene, and they have all lived up to their ratings.

Among Power Five programs, only Baylor, TCU and Oregon have three players in the Top 100 in yards per catch. Carrington, Allen and Stanford all averaged at least 14.8 yards per catch in 2014. In addition, Oregon was third in the country last season in passing plays of 20 yards or more. Again, Mariota certainly contributed to this, but these big-play numbers demonstrate the ability of the returning receivers to get open and contribute after the catch.

These receivers also provide balance. Whoever wins the starting quarterback job will have some versatile targets. Allen’s speed, coupled with the Carrington’s and Stanford’s size, provide great deep threats. Marshall and Addison have the ability to consistently get open in the short passing game.

Oregon’s quarterback situation is up in the air, but with a receiving corps this good, the team can make it work. Last season, Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin got plenty of attention (and rightfully so) for helping to turn long-time backup quarterback Blake Sims into something special. This was in part due to his ability to get outstanding wide receiver Amari Cooper open in space to allow Sims to get him the ball more easily.

Scott Frost

Kevin Cline

Scott Frost

Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost did the same thing with running back-receiver hybrid Marshall, sending him on lethal quick routes that wore defenses down on early downs.

You don’t need to be a Mariota to thrive with this group of special receivers, and Frost has a track record of demonstrating the innovation necessary to get the ball to his play-makers. With depth, talent and production all in place, Oregon’s 2015 receiving corps has everything it needs to prove it is the best in school history — and in the nation.

Top Photo by Craig Strobeck

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Joey Holland

Joey Holland

Joey Holland graduated from the University of Oregon in 2013, majoring in History. He played several sports in high school, though football remains his passion. He has yet to miss a single Oregon Ducks home football game during his time in Eugene. Joey has written previously for Bleacher Report and Football Nation. Joey welcomes your feedback.

  • 94 Duck

    a 22 year old senior at the U is trying to tell everyone who the greatest WR group is in the school history? Ugh.

    • Actually Joey has been graduated for a few years now and has not updated his bio. He has also been our best writer of Oregon football history…and you will notice he did not state a fluff opinion; he backed up with research and stats.

      There are other groups of WRs that will contend, such as Hartley, Griffin and Weaver (TE) in ’98, McLemore, Patrick Johnson and Ricketts in ’94….but Joey’s point about production on primarily a running team from the current WR group is compelling.


      I know exactly what you guy’s mean because some of these writers are clearly green but, this is probably right now the BEST WR group ever at Oregon and they will be a big part of this offense like no other and the only difference between Mariota and Adams is their Percentage rating and VA gets the ball to his receivers in stride way better than Marcus did so expect a lot of TD’s this season from Oregons offense and this offense will or should break last years records with VA under center. Expect it!

  • 94 Duck

    as I appreciate your retort and to defend is really kind, the fact he doesn’t keep his bio updated and you state him as your “best writer of Oregon football history” is sad, at best. Does this not tell us all something? I was fortunate enough to share this with 221k of my closest and obviously we need not let those in the know share where it came from, it was worth a laugh and the response from many alumni and player alumni… a few of whom you/he mentioned in your response. Some were responses by just dumb alumni like myself who have paid attention for 30-60 years years and others actually played for the U and are long since alumni but still love the U; 11 game season vs 12 game season, now a conference championship which statistically is an extra game, 31% more plays than 20 years ago per game thus skewed stats? Really?.. .this is just the bold print and yet not mentioned by your “best writer”? Pretty “compelling: indeed.
    As you mentioned, it wasn’t a “fluff opinion”, that great and all but really need a bigger scope and from those who have walked and talked it and not trying to fill a line.
    Yea, I am a “get off my yard” older idiot but I do walk it and talk it and know the history most of the time before I voice my opinion and hope others do as well.

  • Oregon Flock

    This is a nice written piece. I enjoyed the research and stats. Good job!

  • nickpapageorgiotheduck

    First off, great post. Only quip is that o don’t think Brown or Allen play a snap for us this year.