College football is changing. Back in the day, the playing field was reserved for upperclassmen; freshman contributors were basically nonexistent. Today, with more players getting advanced training from a young age, freshmen are now integral parts of nearly every roster.
Look at last year’s national championship game, in which the best teams in the country played for a title with true freshman quarterbacks on either side. If Alabama, with all of its talent, features first-year players prominently, then you can expect the Ducks to do so as well with their highly regarded incoming class.
But of all the Ducks’ blue-chip recruits, which ones should we expect to see on the field first?
The Primary Candidates
Five-star edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux is a prime candidate to get some early playing time. He’s far too talented to leave on the bench, and with the void that will be left by the graduation of Jalen Jelks and Justin Hollins, he may claim a starting role by the time training camp concludes.
Beyond Thibodeaux, some of the Ducks’ high-quality receivers will get a chance to crack the rotation in the fall. Mycah Pittman, Lance Wilhoite and Josh Delgado are all four-star prospects at a significant position of need.
The Ducks struggled to find a receiver to complement Dillon Mitchell, and it has led to a good-not-great season from a passing offense that could have exploded with better players out wide. Expect the coaching staff to open up the competition this fall. With this many premium options, at least one of them should get some playing time sooner rather than later.
The same can be said for linebackers Ge’mon Eaford and Dru Mathis. The Ducks have been thin all season at inside linebacker, and with the potential loss of Troy Dye, the only mainstay at the position, Eaford and Mathis could provide some much needed stability.
Of course, in a class that is the best in school history, there are plenty of other highly rated prospects who will compete for playing time. Additionally, there are always a few under-the-radar players from each recruiting cycle who outperform their ranking and inevitably find their way onto the field.
So, which recruits have the best chance of cracking the lineup first? Comment below, and let us know which future stars you expect to see in action when the Ducks kick off the 2019 season.
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Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester Tennessee.
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