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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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