What will Ducks Football Look Like in 2021?

Garrett Sharp-Craig Editorials 21 Comments

As the fall college football season begins without our mighty Ducks our attention shifts towards spring 2021 for our next dosage of Oregon football. Nevertheless whether the Ducks next play in spring or fall of next year, the roster for Oregon will look a lot different than it does today.

For starters, many of Oregon’s elite draft eligible players such as Penei Sewell and Jevon Holland will have been drafted or likely sitting out a spring season in preparation for the NFL. Other seniors that may be hoping to hear their name called in the early rounds of next year’s NFL Draft such as Thomas Graham Jr., Deommodore Lenoir, Jordon Scott and CJ Verdell may also elect to spend their spring training for the NFL.

After all, you could not possibly blame the players who elect to opt-out. The risk of injury in playing a spring season or using their extra year of eligibility in the fall is too much for some of these players who have NFL money on the table. Despite having draft eligible guys on roster, Oregon still has a very young and talented team filled with guys looking to make an impact day-one.

The ‘True Freshman’

Although the Ducks may lose a few key seniors for the 2021 season their roster will still be absolutely loaded with seasoned veterans and incoming talent. After finishing with the conference’s best recruiting class in 2020, Coach Mario Cristobal and Co. are on pace to sign the most decorated class in Oregon Football history.

via Twitter

Is Thompson destined to be the next great Oregon QB?

Ty Thompson, who recently just became Oregon’s first 5-Star Quarterback in program history, may be the prized jewel of the 2021 class. Although he’s unlikely to start for the Ducks in 2021, he is a name to key an eye on for future seasons. Other members of Oregon’s 2021 recruiting class such as the Ducks’ trio of elite receivers Troy Franklin, Isaiah Brevard and Kyron Ware-Hudson may be forced into key roles in the offense as true freshman.

Young Guys on the Block

For Oregon fans one of the most disappointing results in not having a fall CFB season was missing out on the opportunity to watch the young and exciting linebacker duo of Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell for the first time. The pair of 5-star recruits will be at the centerpiece of the Ducks’ front seven for years to come.

via Twitter

Flowe was the 2019 recipient of the HS Butkus award.

Additionally the Ducks are hoping that highly touted recruit, Dontae Manning joins an already elite secondary that already includes the likes of Mykeal Wright as well as other potential returners.

The quarterbacks of the 2020 recruiting class, Jay Butterfield and Robby Ashford, will likely be battling with Thompson for spots along the depth chart.

The 2021 ‘Captains’

With all the unknowns about the 2021 season we can only predict who will be the leaders in the locker room. Tyler Shough will be the likely starter after having spent the last three years on campus including two backing up Justin Herbert. Graduate transfer Anthony Brown as well as the young and upcoming freshman QBs may pose a threat to Shough’s job security but with how well he knows the offense and the players around him the job should be his to lose.

The Ducks should hope that draft eligible skill players Johnny Johnson III and CJ Verdell join Shough for the 2021 CFB season. However, if they both declare for the draft Oregon will have to rely on Devon Williams, Mycah Pittman and the incoming classes to provide positional depth amongst receivers. As for a replacement for Verdell, the Ducks should look no further than their in-house combo of Travis Dye and Cyrus Hibiki-Likio who both proved to be more than capable last season.

As for the defense, the heart and soul will undoubtably be wearing number 5. We are of course talking about future NFL superstar, Kayvon Thibodeaux. Thibodeaux, who won the 2019 Pac-12 Defensive Rookie of the Year, is primed to take on an even bigger role as both a leader and as a defensive end.

Tom Corno

Thibodeaux celebrates an emotional win against rival Washington.

Due to his sophomore eligibility, Thibodeaux is one of the only remaining constants in a roster and a season filled with ambiguity. Whether or not he has Scott and Austin Faoliu lining up with him, Thibodeaux will be a force to be reckoned with especially if he wants more Chase Young comparisons.

With all this being said, predicting who will be on the 2021 roster is impossible without knowing the season schedule. Although the Pac-12 is optimistic for a spring season, there are many limitations making it a logistical nightmare. For starters, will it only be the Pac-12 and Big-10 participating as other conferences have elected to play this fall? If a spring season would occur how many of Oregon’s draft eligible players would participate and would they again try to play in the fall?

As a college senior, I want nothing more than a spring 2021 season to complete my collegiate career. But with that being said, there will be plenty of hoops to jump through before the Ducks next step foot in Autzen and the roster may look entirely different than it does today.

Garrett Sharp-Craig
Eugene, OR
Top Photo by Tom Corno

Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester, Tennessee.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Comments Below are CLOSED, as we are moving to the OUR BELOVED DUCKS Forum!

Comments below articles are now closed as we have moved all conversation over to the free Our Beloved Ducks Forum. It has been a big success already with many more posts than what we could fit into the comments below articles.

The Our Beloved Ducks Forum is where we we discuss the article above and many more topics, as it is so much easier in a message board format over there.  At the free OBD forum we will be posting Oregon Sports article links, the daily Press Releases from the Athletic Department and the news coming out every day.

Be a part of the forum and stay caught up!  When you wish to post there, do know that you are protected just as you were on FishDuck. Join us on the free forum right here!

Our 33 rules at the free OBD Forum can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) keep it clean, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!

OBD Forum members….we got your back.  No Trolls Allowed!

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

You know with all the obsticles Oregon continue’s to have trying to win a NATTY, its to the point why even continue to waste my valuable time waiting. So I guess we have to ask the question why are the SEC, Big 12, ACC continuing to have a football season but the PAC 12 isn’t?

Well here’s a thought what if those 3 conferences play and nothing major gets in the way. So they have a competitive season and have their Playoff while we sit back and say WHAT IF. I also would ask can the NCAA put a stop to all the other conferences playing this fall because of safety concerns? I say they are all about the money so it has nothing to do with any of the other issues.

Rich men getting their fill while us the most important factor of any sports venue the fans get nothing. I don’t know I’m tired getting older and not still getting to say Mighty Oregon, we are the champs.


It looks like pac12 football is going to go the route that SMU took after they got caught cheating – into the toilet.
Only the pac12 didn’t cheat – instead, they burned a season because of a sickness – a sickness that isn’t going away, most likely for ever.

So this sickness will be still be here, and college football won’t be.

There are 5 or 6 times as many cases in Oregon now compared to late spring and early summer. It aint going away.
There won’t be a spring season.
There won’t be a fall 2021 season.
Count on it.
Oregon football is over.

Only way they play again is IF a cure arrives and cases go down to almost zero. But by then, all the good players will be playing east of the rockies.

I’m glad the Ducks had a good year in 2019, because it will be the last season that Oregon football means anything. They will probably go to an all-online program for acedemics and cancel all sports.

Sewell and Holland are transferring for the fall season.

I only see Holland and Sewell sitting out, as I believe all the other players have a lot yet left to prove to get a higher draft position. Frankly a few of those I see as marginal NFL talents, and yet are superb college players and I would wish would remain to enjoy the full college experience.


Some guys play for the love of the game, and the money is secondary. Others look at it as a business decision. Every player is different.

As for the ‘full college experience’ – a whole lot of players who have played 3 full seasons and shined personally and had team success feel that they have completed the journey. I’m not sure what Mariota would have gotten out of playing his sr year that he didn’t already experience.

I don’t try to get into any of their heads. I respect all of their decisions. Just one more play – and they could be crippled, paralized or even dead. Football is a dangerous game.

Jon Sousa

First thing that comes to mind is that the PAC 12 is talking about moving up the season from January to November, both for football and basketball. If that happens, I think that a whole lot of the draftable guys will play, especially guys like Breeze who needs another season to prove he was not just a flash in the pan.

If they play in November and Brown doesn’t start for the Ducks, I doubt very seriously that he comes back next fall unless he wants to finish his master’s degree. That would be a smart move for him.

If they play starting early November, they could cut the schedule to 8 games and be ready to play in a delayed playoff, assuming conference championship game by the first or second week of January. Finish the schedule by the end of January and ALL of the seniors could play and still be up for the NFL Combine.


Thanks for this, Jon. It all sounds plausible and satisfying.

Jon Joseph

Consistent with the B1g discussing playing beginning Thanksgiving weekend.

Jon Sousa

Hey! We could play the Beavers at our “normal” time slot!

David Marsh

I give Sewell a 30% of playing. I think there is a part of him that is just a fierce competitor who wants to play. Also there is a good chance he would like the opportunity to play with his brother.

Sewell also had two years of eligibility so he may preceive the risk as less… Granted having a record of injury isn’t good for draft stock either.

Jon Sousa

I agree that Sewell has a good chance of staying, even if he plays this year. Remember that draftable guys stayed last year for their senior season.

Jon Joseph

He’s already suffered an injury. $. He gone.

David Marsh

That ankle injury in 2018 cause the offense so many problems… When Sewell returns the offense suddenly started looking better that year.


Penei and his family have been aiming at him going pro. Noah may have the choice to stay 4 years at Oregon, but Penei doesn’t really have that same choice. I can’t imagine him being able to turn down the cash for his family.


No way the older Sewell plays because he will easily be a top 3 pick. You just cannot take a chance with that kind of money sitting in front of you when it takes only one play to ruin your season plus getting drafted at the top. He’d be crazy to play and I’m quite sure little brother Noah would tell him likewise.

Santa Rosa Duck

Thinking about all of this is exhausting. All the twists and turns this year, the ups and downs etc are potentially around for a fall 2021 season as well. A vaccine is not a given. Moderna, the leading candidate is a new company without a single product on the market for anything. I doubt that there will be a spring season. I just hope we can have a relatively normal fall 2021 season.

I read this morning that University of Alabama currently has over 1200 cases of Covid 19 on the Tuscaloosa campus. How long does this insanity in the SEC go on? Thanks Garrett, you bring us some hope!


I may have more to say later, but the first thing that comes to mind is the sadness to have been able to watch Penei play only 21 games as a Duck. :(


Enjoyed the heck out of watching future Duck Jackson Light play very well (both ways!) in a Utah high school football game broadcast Friday on that network whose name shall not be spoken.

Fun game to watch as Light’s very talented Corner Canyon team broke open the game in the second half after a close and well contested first half. Their opponents, Bingham Draper (also of Utah), had a couple of D-1 size and quality linemen as well, so it was a good match-up in the trenches.

Light played a good portion of the defensive snaps on the d-line getting at least a couple of TFLs with quickness and technique more than just bull rushing. He showed agility and good technique from his center position as well, sometimes digging in and standing up his opponent, other times riding him out of the play on frequent QB keeper options that went for big gains, as well as consistently getting effective blocks at the second level.

The announcers gave Light, UO, and Cristobal much love throughout the game, and even slipped in Light’s Coach Feld homage “fill the sleeves” videos. Overall a great Friday Night Lights kind of event.

Alas, I did not see Christian Burkhalter’s Spanish Fort (Alabama) team’s game that was broadcast earlier that night. Would love to hear details from anyone who might have caught that one as well.


Thanks, Garrett, looking at the glass half full through green and yellow tinted lenses, next season, whenever that is, looks great for the Ducks. After the Rose Bowl win, looking ahead to the season starting with home games against NDSU and then, the Ohio State, with that defense! It was as exciting as I can remember.

But certainly, even if all the players with NFL dreams move on, the talent left on the roster, will still make the Ducks a formidable foe for any team, on any schedule. With Cristobal in charge, I feel like the Ducks have the perfect coach to lead the way through these unsettling times.