Posted on April 8, 2021
With spring practices underway at Oregon, I’m taking the time to examine the prevailing storylines at each position group, while exploring how these questions could impact the Ducks entering the fall.
Today, our Spring Storylines series continues with a look at wide receiver.
For as potent as Oregon’s offenses have been over the last few decades, seldom have the points and production come courtesy of an all-star cast of elite pass catchers that have truly paced the offense.
Specifically, since 2017, the wide receiver position at Oregon has been in a particular state of flux, as Cristobal and the Oregon coaching staff have slowly but surely worked to overhaul that position group with more instant impact level talent over the past few recruiting cycles.
Of course, that’s not to say that the Ducks have been completely devoid of talent and production.
In 2018, Dillon Mitchell posted the most productive single-season ever for an Oregon wideout, setting a school record for receiving yards with 1,184. Meanwhile, entering the 2021 season, senior receiver Johnny Johnson III is roughly 60 receptions and 1,000 yards away from ranking as one of the most productive receivers in the history of the program.
Though it seems rather unlikely that Johnson will reach those heights, given the mystery at quarterback and the number of hungry mouths to feed on offense, it goes to show that the Ducks do indeed have reliable talent at the position, just nothing of the truly transcendent type from their veteran group.
Jaylon Redd, Mycah Pittman, and Devon Williams combine with Johnson to give the Ducks as talented a starting group as they’ve had in quite some time, however their next opportunity to take the field together at same time will be one of their first.
A steady senior leader, Redd provides supreme quickness and versatility operating out of the slot, but has never been a go-to receiver in this offense. Pittman and Williams have go-to receiver attributes, but a combination of injuries and inconsistency has prevented both players from fully assuming that mantle to this point.
Up and comers like Kris Hutson and Josh Delgado have flashed enormous potential in the limited opportunities they’ve received to this point, and appear to be two players who are primed and ready to assume more responsibility over the next couple of seasons.
But is either player truly capable of shouldering the bulk of the work in the passing game?
Fortunately for Oregon, the answers to some of these broad questions may reside with one of the most talented groups of receivers to ever sign with a Pac-12 program. In Troy Franklin and Dont’e Thornton, the Ducks signed a pair of four-star recruits in the 2021 class who rank as two of the four highest-rated wide receiver recruits in school history, according to 247Sports.
On campus since the winter, this pair has already made their presence known in the early onset of spring practices, appearing relatively unfazed for true freshmen as they angle for playing time later this fall.
Though Thornton has the distinct height advantage compared to Franklin (6-foot-5 compared to 6-2), both are similarly built while also possessing comparable athletic traits when it comes to speed, catching ability, and home run potential.
The pair will be joined by fellow four-star recruit Isaiah Brevard later this summer to give the Ducks even more of a shot in the arm as it relates to the receiver talent they’ve accumulated.
But even with all these young, potential stars in the fold, how likely is it to see these signees pay serious dividends in 2021?
In all likelihood, and despite their lofty billing, fans should expect players such as Franklin and Thornton to initially be operating on the fringes of the receiver rotation, as Johnson, Redd, Pittman, Williams, Delgado, and Hutson have at least a year of experience in the program and have proven an ability to serve as contributors, at the very least, in Oregon’s passing attack.
Still, the intrigue and attention paid to this newcomer group is justified and could easily command more of the spotlight should injury or other factors impact the depth at wide receiver.
—Previously in this Spring Storylines Series—
—Recent Chris Courtney Stories—
- Courtney: Postgame Takeaways from Oregon Spring Game
- Courtney: Are People Sleeping on the UO Secondary in 2021?
- Courtney: Is the Linebacking Corp Oregon’s Deepest Group?
- Courtney: Are the Young Duck DL Ready to Take Over?
- Courtney: How Much Will Oregon’s OL Grow in 2021?
- Courtney: Does a leader emerge at tight end for Oregon?
- Courtney: How concerning is Oregon’s health at RB?
- Courtney: Who gains inside track at starting QB for Ducks?
- Courtney: What are the Ducks getting in Stephon Johnson?
- Courtney: What are Ducks getting in Trejon Williams?
- Courtney: What are the Ducks getting in Tanner Bailey?
- Courtney: What are the Ducks getting in Percy Lewis?
- Courtney: What are the Ducks getting in Landon Hullaby?
- Courtney: Tyler Shough transfer adds QB intrigue for Ducks
- Courtney: What are the Ducks getting in Avante Dickerson?
- Courtney: What are the Ducks getting in Byron Cardwell?
- Courtney: Ducks follow Familiar Theme with DeRuyter Hire
- Courtney: Postmortem Takeaways from Oregon’s Loss to Iowa State
- Courtney: Burning questions for Oregon entering Fiesta Bowl vs. Iowa State
- Courtney: The Case for (and against) Tyler Shough as Oregon’s Starting QB
- Courtney: Post Mortem Takeaways from Oregon’s Championship Win over USC
- Courtney: Burning questions for Oregon entering Pac-12 Championship vs. USC
- Courtney: Oregon Football Early Signing Day Postmortem
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- Courtney: What Christian Burkhalter’s Flip to UCLA Means for Oregon
- Courtney: Postmortem Takeaways from Oregon’s Loss to Cal
- Courtney: How does Jadarrius Perkins’ Decommitment Impact 2021 Duck Class?
- Courtney: Burning Week 5 Questions for Oregon at Cal
- Courtney: How Kyron Ware-Hudson’s Decommitment Impacts Oregon’s 2021 Class
- Courtney: Postgame Takeaways from Oregon’s Loss to OSU
- Courtney: Burning questions for Oregon entering Week 4 at Oregon State
- Courtney: Improvement for Ducks on Defense Hinges on Health of Noah Sewell
- Courtney: Postgame Takeaways from Oregon’s Win over UCLA
- Courtney: Burning Week 3 Questions for Oregon vs. UCLA
- Courtney: Analyzing Unexpected Preseason Role Reversal of UO Offense, Defense
- Courtney: Postgame Takeaways from Oregon’s Win over Washington State
- Courtney: Burning Questions for Oregon Entering Week 2 at Washington State
- Tyler Shough’s rate of development critical to Oregon’s success in 2020
- Courtney: Postgame Post Mortem—Takeaways from Oregon’s Win over Stanford
- Courtney: Burning Questions for Oregon Entering Week 1 vs. Stanford
Courtney: Postgame Takeaways from Oregon Spring GameA trio of freshmen quarterbacks are vying to push Anthony Brown for potential starting reps - May 1, 2021
Courtney: Are People Sleeping on the UO Secondary in 2021?The eighth in a series of the prevailing storylines at each position group for the Ducks - April 17, 2021
Courtney: Is the Linebacking Corp Oregon’s Deepest Group?The seventh in a series of the prevailing storylines at each position group for the Ducks - April 15, 2021