By SPENCER McLAUGHLIN
Contributor, 750 The Game
When former UCLA quarterback and one-time 5-star recruit Dante Moore put his name into the transfer portal, I tweeted this:
“Just gonna say this now, I don’t see the upside of adding Moore for 2024. If you’re gonna go with a young guy who needs to develop, I would prefer Ty.”
That was then, and this is now. I stand by that statement because Ty Thompson’s familiarity with the staff and the system would have made him a more logical starting quarterback for the Ducks next season than Dante Moore. Now that Thompson has entered the transfer portal and Dillon Gabriel has been locked in as Oregon’s starter next season, the landscape has changed.
Moore struggled this year at UCLA with Chip Kelly. He was the backup, then he was the starter, then got benched again after throwing a pick 6 in three straight conference games. I thought he should have given it another year with the Bruins. Chip Kelly turned Dorian Thompson-Robinson from a turnover machine to an all-conference caliber QB over the course of several seasons, and I felt he could have done the same with Moore.
I guess we’ll never know.
Moore’s comments to 247Sports upon entering the portal are what make him a potentially perfect fit in Eugene, a place he was once verbally committed to playing college football.
“For these next upcoming years, I just want to go to a place where I can get developed. That’s the main thing is really development, making sure you’re bettering yourself every day and having a staff around you that’s going to help develop you.”
Bo Nix became the best version of himself over the last two years at Oregon, and got even better in 2023 under new offensive coordinator Will Stein. His completion percentage of about 77% set the Oregon single-season record, beating his mark set in 2022 when he was just under 72%. When Stein was the OC at UTSA in 2021, the QB in his offense was Frank Harris. That year, Harris completed 66% of his throws with a passer rating of 152.5 (which is good, by the way).
Bottom line is when Will Stein is your offensive coordinator/QB coach, you’re playing in an offense that has a proven track record of quarterback success. Heck, even though Ty Thompson will never start a game for the Ducks, he too looked much improved in the action he saw in 2023 compared to a season ago.
Then there’s Dillon Gabriel, who has 5 seasons of college football under his belt. If Dante Moore is serious about his development and would be willing to spend a season mostly wearing a headset instead of a helmet, Oregon could be a great spot. Gabriel has just one year of eligibility left, and should Moore choose the Ducks as his next spot he would have an excellent chance to start in 2025.
There are plenty of other spots where Moore could go if he wants to develop whilst starting in 2024, and Oregon cannot provide that barring an injury to Gabriel next year. Michigan and Miami have reportedly been in the running, and the argument for either land spot can be readily made.
Dante Moore is visiting Eugene this weekend. I don’t know what will be said or how he will think about the Ducks afterwards. What I do know is that if he wants to play the long game to reach his full potential, Oregon will have all the tools to help him work towards that goal.
Spencer McLaughlin is an Oregon Ducks football contributor to 750 The Game. He also hosts the “Locked On Oregon Ducks” and “Locked On Pac-12” podcasts and has work featured throughout the season here.