Let’s be honest. If Mario Cristobal were returning to Eugene for a fifth season, this time of year would be pretty drab. After four years, Oregon football fans finally knew what to expect from the Miami native and they weren’t necessarily SUPER STOKED about what they were seeing. Looking back, the hopeful justifications in the run-up to a new season just didn’t fly anymore (Maybe it’s Marcus Arroyo? Maybe it’s COVID-19? Maybe it’s Joe Moorhead?)
The fact of the matter is that it was Cristobal all along. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. By any standard, Cristobal had four successful years at Oregon, including back-to-back Pac-12 titles, four bowl appearances and a Rose Bowl trophy. But many of us felt the Ducks were stuck in second gear with an idling offense that only occasionally ran the way it was intended.
Cristobal’s departure was a blessing in disguise. The university’s hiring of Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning as the next Oregon football coach has rejuvenated the Ducks’ fan base heading into a typically dull period for football. And the hiring of Lanning was much more exciting than say hiring Cal head coach Justin Wilcox (Sorry, but YAWN and WHY? I’m still skeptical of the rumors. Sorry, John).
Lanning has been absolutely COOKING since he took the job, hiring big-time coaches, convincing veteran players to return and snagging top recruits — all while helping the Bulldogs easily win their College Football Playoff semifinal game against Michigan, 34-11. Friends, this is the offseason but I’ve never been so excited to see what news is coming out of Eugene on a daily basis. Let’s take a look at what Lanning has accomplished in a just a few short weeks:
COACHES: Lanning has made some splashy and impressive coaching hires since he took the helm. Here’s who’s coming to Eugene:
Adrian Klemm: Associate head coach, offensive line coach and run-game coordinator (won 3 Super Bowls with New England Patriots as a player); Kenny Dillingham: Offensive coordinator, quarterbacks (Florida State, Memphis); Marshall Malchow: Football Chief of Staff (Recruited under Nick Saban, Kirby Smart, and Jimbo Fisher); Junior Adams: Co-offensive coordinator, wide receivers (Washington, Western Kentucky); Drew Mehringer: Tight ends (Rutgers, 2019 National Recruiter of the Year); Carlos Locklyn: Running backs (Florida State, Memphis); Joe Lorig: Special Teams coordinator (Penn State, Memphis); Tosh Lupoi: Co-defensive coordinator (Alabama, Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns); Matt Powledge: Co-defensive coordinator (Baylor); Tony Tuioti: Defensive line (Nebraska, California); Demetrice Martin: Cornerbacks (Top recruiter, formerly Colorado, USC, Washington, UCLA, and Arizona), and Don Johnson: Director of Personnel (Lanning kept Johnson on Oregon staff).
— Cole Martin (@colemartin21) January 1, 2022
RECRUITS (Signed): While Oregon lost several players to the dreaded NCAA transfer portal (Mycah Pittman, DJ James, Jayson Jones, and Henry Katleman), Lanning has salvaged some talented recruits for the Ducks’ future:
Class of 2022: Devon Jackson (LB), Harrison Taggart (LB), Anthony Jones (OLB), Sir Mells (DL) Ben Roberts (DL), Jalil Tucker (CB), Michael Wooten (OL).
Class of 2023: Cole Martin (4-star DB, son of Demetrice Martin).
RECRUITS (Possible): Jaden Rashada (No. 5 rated QB in nation, Oregon in Top 10); Peter Woods (five-star DL, Oregon in Top 6)
RETURNING PLAYERS: Thankfully, several members of the Ducks’ offensive line are returning for another year. But other skill-position players have announced their decisions to stay under Lanning as well. Here’s some notable Ducks returning:
TJ Bass (OL), Steven Jones (OL), Alex Forsyth (OL), Malaesalsa Aumavae-Laulu (OL), Ryan Walk (OL), Jackson Powers Johnson (OL, but taking reps at DL), Seven McGee (RB), Popo Aumavae (DT), Bennett Williams (S), Dont’e Thornton (WR), Troy Franklin (WR), Kris Hutson (WR), Bradyn Swinson (DT), Brandon Dorlus (DT), Kenyon Ware-Hudson (DT), Mase Funa (OLB), Noah Sewell (LB), Justin Flowe (LB), Jeffrey Bassa (LB), Steve Stephens (S), Jordan Happle (S), Trikweze Bridges (CB) and Dontae Manning (CB).
PHEW! Lanning has a ton of accomplishments since joining the Oregon family just last month. Buckle up, Ducks fans. This could be the most exciting offseason in recent memory.
San Diego, California
Top Photo By Tom Corno
Jordan is a lifelong Duck fan currently living in San Diego. Jordan graduated from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, after serving a prestigious fellowship with the Washington State House of Representatives. Upon graduation, he worked as an English language teaching assistant for the Spanish Ministry of Education’s Ambassadorial Program in Monforte de Lemos, Spain. Jordan has worked as a journalist, writer, and editor in Oregon, Washington, Montana, and California, covering a wide range of topics, including sports, local politics, and crime. He is VERY excited to be writing about his beloved Oregon Ducks.
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