Did You Forget About Four-Star Receiver Devon Williams?

Cameron Johansson Recruiting 26 Comments

The Oregon Ducks’ 2020 receiving corps has inspired legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson to use his favorite catchphrase “Whoa, Nellie!Mario Cristobal has his work cut out putting a depth chart together for these guys.

That said, deciding which play-making wide receivers are going to start over others is a good problem to have. The lack of depth and experience in 2019 will not be a problem in 2020 or in the near future, especially with the addition of Troy Franklin. The only starting receiver to leave the Ducks was graduate wide-out Juwan Johnson.

Last season, the Ducks had a couple more blows to their wide receivers corps than they could really afford. Johnson missed the beginning stages of the season due to injury, Mycah Pittman missed significant time due to shoulder and arm injuries, Jaylon Redd missed the postseason and Brandon Schooler suffered a foot injury in the preseason and later transferred. But they adapted pretty well; they relied heavily on the tight ends, and Justin Herbert managed to forge some chemistry with inexperienced receivers Johnny Johnson III and Bryan Addison.


Devon Williams sheds Stanford defender while at USC

In the midst of all these injuries, Devon Williams transferred to Oregon from USC. The explosive receiver was the top-ranked player in his position coming out of high school, and a four-star recruit. During his recruitment, all signs were pointing to Williams landing in Eugene for the 2018 season, but at the eleventh hour he committed to USC, his hometown school. Shock and disappointment was a good way to describe how Ducks fans felt at the time.

After only playing a handful of snaps for the Trojans, Williams entered the transfer portal, and it looked like the Ducks were going to be snubbed yet again. Rumors and reports began to fly that Williams had committed to Oregon State. The Oregon State roster and Twitter page even said as much! How could the Ducks lose out to little brother? The truth later surfaced that Williams had decided to take his talents to Autzen and play for the Ducks. (What chaos!) USC was the king of the “PAC” for a good chunk of the 21st century, but momentum has swung.

Williams had to sit out 2019, so he will enter the 2020 season as a redshirt sophomore. Williams is one of Cristobal’s biggest commitments. To convince a very talented receiver to leave the bright lights of Hollywood and set up shop in Eugene speaks volumes.


Devon Williams

Listed as 6’5″ and 191 pounds, Williams will bring downfield length to Oregon’s receiving corps. Whole Flock of Ducks writer Chris Courtney also likes what Williams can bring to the Oregon roster, saying..

“There’s absolutely no debating that Williams is an alluring target in the passing game who presents myriad match-up problems given his tremendous blend of size and athletic ability. Though he was never able to quite crack USC’s deep rotation at wide receiver, the path figures to be a little clearer for Williams at Oregon.”

Williams’ path may be clearer than it was at USC, but he will still have to battle Addison and Johnson III for those outside positions. However, his combination of size and strength give him a clear advantage over these two in the red zone, as he is able to reach over most defensive backs in one-on-one battles for the ball. While Addison can match Williams in size, Williams has more strength and play-making ability.

From Twitter

Can Devon Williams reach his potential under Coach McClendon?

There has been a lot of excitement surrounding Williams, and Duck fans have been anxious to see him in action. All the hype aside, Williams has a good shot at making the roster in some capacity.

Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead has some nice new toys in the garage for his first season in Eugene. He will be able to get creative, and even potentially turn Oregon into a pass-first offense. Williams may have to find his stride again after all that time off, but he worked very closely with Moorhead and got off to a solid spring . When Williams committed to the Ducks he stated, “I should have gone there (University of Oregon) from the jump!”

Now it’s time to prove it. I am sure he will.

Cameron Johansson
Portland, Oregon
Top Photo From Twitter

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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Williams is listed at 6’5″ 209# on GoDucks so he’s filled out some. This will be his 3rd year in college so he’s not the typical lost freshman having to go down the learning curve. I expect him to be a major contributor this year. He’s arguably the most physically talented WR we’ve had in the last 20 years. Elite athleticism and size at the position.


After the past few years, catching the ball {as in any down Maehl skills} would seem every bit if not more important.

Jon Sousa

Freshmen do come in and make an impact their first year, but no freshman should expect it… especially when the cupboard isn’t bare. Last year Thibs was used only sparingly in certain situations until the starter in front of him went down for the season. He had to learn the rest of the play book in a hurry as he was thrust into the starting role. (One reason he was so much more effective at the end of the year.)

We could name many more examples. That Devon Williams didn’t get a lot of snaps two years ago with who USC already had at wide-out should be no surprise to anyone, including Devon Williams. I fully expect him to be starting this year… at least by mid season. It is his natural junior year. That means his body has matured and his mind and experience have matured. The fact that he could not play last year did not mean he wasn’t getting a ton of reps as well as a ton of attention from the strength and conditioning guys.

At this point he doesn’t need to put on “15 more pounds” as some have stated. He has already caught a ton of balls from Shough. He just needs to go out there and do what he does. I would not be surprised at all if he starts from day one.

The ONLY yellow flag by his name to me is, “Why did he leave USC?” If would have stayed at SC he would be starting this next year so transferring and sitting a year didn’t get him on the field any sooner. Generally speaking, depending on the reason, if someone is dissatisfied at one place they will more likely be dissatisfied somewhere else. DW has more than a year at Oregon which is more time than he spent at SC. As stated, he is more mature now and knows whether or not he fits in and is still here. That’s why this is just a weak yellow flag.

Jon Sousa

By the way, why is it that almost every time I post, it time stamp says that I posted it a year ago??? Are others experiencing this?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Yep…a glitch we are working on, although it does not change anything. The new system is working, but more tweaks to make!

Thanks for your patience.


This text box has a few quirks, my time stamp states “-1 hour” until I hit the post button then its ok after that. I haven’t seen the “posted it a year ago” but I can believe it happens. I sometimes lose text after I hit the return key – but I think I am tracking it down to a faulty keyboard (so far). It might be just getting use to things and finding work arounds and such.

David Marsh

I’m sure there are a lot of reasons as to why he wanted to leave USC. I would suspect many of those reasons go beyond “I didn’t get on the field much”. The culture of the programs, the coaching staff…. or he may not have liked USC the school itself. They are student-athletes and we tend to focus on the athlete part but they all have to attend classes.

For whatever reason he didn’t like USC and decided to make a move. USC has seen significant instability in coaching staff over the past few years as well. Not to say Oregon hasn’t as Oregon has seen coaching staff turnover at a far more accelerated rate than what we as Oregon fans are accustomed to. However, Oregon’s culture is one of stability where USC might have tides of chaos under the surface.

Personally… I’m not concerned about the reasons why anyone chooses to leave a program to come to Oregon. Let them come and compete and if they don’t see the field at Oregon that’s what happens. On the other hand… I find it absolutely fascinating to see lots of players leave a school in a wave…. Stanford and UCLA had lots of players enter the transfer portal at the end of last season… that raises some very interesting questions concerning why?

David Marsh

What a luxury it is to forget about a four star player…

We’re being spoiled! And I love it.

Thanks Cam, for the fun, fun FUN read!

Because of his experience playing already–I believe Devon will play a lot and become one our major targets over the next two years, especially in 2021.

When we were recruiting him in high school…I recall doing an article and including a screenshot off of YouTube with him. He curled back into the zone area of a linebacker, who had just got to the spot and the LB had his feet on the ground as he was running.

Meanwhile Devon had jumped up to bring down the football, and William’s shoes were at eye-level of the linebacker!

This receiver has serious talent….


The question continues, Lance Wilhoite, Devon Williams, JJIII, Pittman and on and on, who is going to get separation within the receiver ranks? I am not talking about on the field, who will get playing time and become the go to guy for the new Qb’s?

I do remember being disappointed when Devon didn’t sign with the Ducks coming out of high school. The position was much more wide open then. I hope he doesn’t disappoint us again.

This time he will be in a tough battle to get playing time, but he does have the measurables. The question will be, who has the unmeasurable desire, passion and skill to take over the wide receiver position at the elite D1 level?


Agree with Pittman’s brother, 2nd round draft pick, a lock and two other guys who exceeded our best receiving yardage last year it would have been tough to break through at sc. The good news is I have a feeling one of these guys is going to break 1k receiving this year, and it might be Devon.

Jon Joseph

Thanks Cameron. Hopefully, Williams will make some noise this season as a member of an improving corps of WRs.

JM’s scheme on O, the threat of the QB running the ball and the improvement in the guys catching the ball, should make it difficult for any D to stack the box.


Williams was correct when he said, “I should have gone there from the start”. Better late than never, young man! Symbolically it’s great to have a player transfer from the Trojans to the Ducks. Minyon Moore did it last season in Women’s basketball, different in that it was a graduate transfer, but a rose is still a rose, and she was an integral part of that teams great season. Hopefully, Williams can have the same effect on the football team.


Yea, woman’s basketball, what a great memory.


It will be very exciting to see Devon take the field as a Duck. He has physical attributes to become the missing link. 15-20 more pounds might help him. Hard work and work ethic are keys to his contributions. Go Ducks.


Wow, so many stars in the wide receivers corps. You were right when you said “Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead has some nice new toys in the garage for his first season in Eugene“, I can’t wait to see how this works out on the field. Our coaches have done a great job at filling the barn with highly talented players at this position.

I hope next year they will do the same “filling the barn” with running backs. An area I think has been overlooked for to long. I’m still looking for that franchise running back.

Santa Rosa Duck

You are right and I put Kenjon Barner and Royce Freeman in the same league among recent backs. Thanks Cameron, I sure hope we get to see Devon this year.


What a wealth of receivers Oregon will have on the roster! Looking forward to what Trey Benson will bring to the table for Oregon as a running back at 6ft 209 pounds.


The, RBC, that the Ducks have been using has been effective. But I suspect that it has been what had to be used more than a strategic choice; Verdell, Dye, CHL, none could handle the load as Oregon’s featured backs did in the past. Cristobal’s search for a big back, Benson, could be a glance at the future with a #1 bac, who could manage a load of carries.

David Marsh

Under Cristobal it looks like Oregon has really brought in some larger backs than what has been typical for Oregon’s recruitment. Freeman spoiled us for four years as he was a big back. LMJ put up some insane stats at Oregon but he wasn’t a “big back”. He got into space and was gone, same with DAT. Cristobal is really looking for some power backs that always fall forward…

CHL last year was the closest thing to a powerback Oregon had… he had flashes for greatness and that Washington game we all thought was a break out moment but it wasn’t.

Verdell has been effective but I feel he is a bit of a square peg in a round hole with the power scheme and the use of the pistol. He also hasn’t been able to stay healthy for that many full games.


After years of the “smaller backs” I’m ready for a “big bruising back”. Someone like a young “Refrigerator”.