Our Oregon Ducks football program has had a busy offseason to say the least. Luckily, head coach Dan Lanning’s proven to be the perfect captain to steer the Ducks through the PAC-12 pond and make new additions to the flock along the way. As we roll into spring, this squad has sured-up some important spots after losing significant contributors to the NFL Draft, particularly with some key additions that add star power on offense.
On the outside, Oregon hasn’t had the likes of a true No. 1 receiver in over a decade, and now it finally looks like Troy Franklin has earned that role. While surrounding the rest of the corps with elite-level talent in both upper and lower classmen, Lanning has been on his a-game all year, as he’s juiced up a roster primed for a big leap in the passing game this season.
Now, we look ahead to the 2023 season with a star-studded squad adding USC’s Gary Bryant Jr. at receiver, who’s looking to deal some serious damage against familiar PAC-12 foes.
Gary Bryant Jr. and the New-Look Oregon Receiving Corps
Overall, the receiving group looks as strong as it has ever been. Speed, size, elusiveness, the Ducks have it all on the outside, which could really set them apart this year in the PAC-12. Nix will have plenty of opportunities ahead to absolutely crush his 2022 passing totals, as the new pieces should complement perfectly with his returning go-to guys.
USC’s veteran wideout Gary Bryant Jr. joins the Ducks with an immediate plug-and-play impact on the roster’s makeup. In his time with Kedon Slovis and Jaxson Dart (without Heisman-winner Caleb Williams, mind you) through the 2021 season, he was able to corral 44 catches for 579 yards and seven touchdowns, which would have ranked first on the Ducks in 2021. After being phased out in an incredibly talented wide receiver pool at USC, Bryant redshirted his 2022 season to end up transferring to the Ducks this spring.
What This New Receiving Core Means for Bo Nix
Nix has a whole lot to live up to this season. Even with Kenny Dillingham out of the building, there’s no place for an asterisk next to how Nix performs in a reenvisioned Oregon offense. I don’t expect Bryant to have an immediate impact like Nix and others have in the past when transferring to Oregon, but I do expect him to be a big contributor by the end of the season.
At times down the stretch, there were some serious issues with how Oregon’s defense played to close out 2022. This put the offense in a tough spot despite having an outstanding rushing attack for most of the season. Hopefully, Nix can lead an offense this season that’ll go toe-to-toe with just about anyone, even with a handful of question marks on defense.
As Nix develops in his final season as a Duck, it’s the perfect time for him to put it all together and boost his draft stock as a passer. Bryant, Franklin, Kris Hutson, Tez Johnson, and Traeshon Holden make up the most talented receiving corps we’ve seen in years for the Ducks, and Nix has to be excited to unleash them all in the fall.
Oregon’s Projected Receiving Leaders in 2023
The stat leaders of 2023 may surprise us.
While I’d love to see Bryant step up his game and elevate Nix’s play, I think there’s going to be a different leader in the clubhouse for the Ducks’ top pass catcher in 2023. Franklin should be able to take another step after leading the Ducks with 61 catches in 2022, and maybe even eclipse 1,000 yards on the season. However, I see the new go-to No.2 wideout rising to the occasion in 2023 being Holden. He’s already flashed in practice and looked solid in the Spring Game, and while I don’t think he’ll beat out Franklin in receiving yards, I do see his role on third downs and in the red zone potentially earning him the most catches on the year.
Regardless of who leads the team, though, the competition in the receiving core is at an unprecedentedly elite level in 2023. Our Ducks should be better than ever in stretching the field and also offer opportunities for Nix to balance out his rushing attempts with more efficient passing numbers. Hopefully, this will allow Nix to avoid injury and stay upright throughout his last season at Oregon.
The Future of Ducks Recruits/Transfers at Receiver
So far, I LOVE what Lanning has done to elevate this roster, demonstrating that “never settle” mindset. It’s clear he’s all-in on every deal and is always looking to increase this team’s ability to compete at the highest level.
As far as receivers go, producing talent at the position has become massively important in the NFL. While quarterback, left tackle, and edge rusher have been the most valuable positions in pro football for the past several decades, wide receiver has made a legitimate case to catapult into that top-3 conversation. For the Ducks, this means everything when it comes to getting national attention for recruiting. LSU has virtually become WRU (wide receiver university), and it speaks volumes about how they’re able to translate NFL success into recruiting success.
After another successful NFL Draft for the Ducks, I see more of the same in Oregon’s future. Lanning’s not letting up when it comes to talent acquisition, and the grass can only get greener from here. Expect loads of talent to join Bryant in the flock, providing Our Beloved Ducks with championship-level talent across the board.
Anyway, enough from me, Oregon fans. What do you think of the receiving corps entering the 2023 season? How will Bryant fair as the newest edition of the Oregon offense? Who do you think leads the team in catches this year? Let us know in the FishDuck Forum with decorum.
Los Angeles, California
Top Photo Via: Twitter (badgordie1)
Alex Heining is an Oregon alumni from the graduate class of 2021. After studying sports business and media studies, he has moved into the field of digital marketing as a copywriter and content manager in the Los Angeles area. Still, he loves his Ducks and goes to local high school games all over the Los Angeles and Orange County area to check out new recruits of the future (and a SoFi game or two with the pros). On any given Saturday, expect to find him doing martial arts, playing the guitar, or screaming at the tv over a missed holding penalty.
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