By SPENCER McLAUGHLIN
Contributor, 750 The Game
The schedule in college football is completely messed up. Right now, programs like Oregon are trying to sign a 2024 recruiting class, address portal needs, and prepare for the Fiesta Bowl against Liberty. Do you think Dan Lanning gets 8 hours of sleep per night? 7? 2? Sometimes it seems like you should take the under on any of those numbers. He has a big staff for player personnel and scouting for this very reason.
Names have not yet been confirmed, but Oregon has been looking to use the portal the way other top schools and coaches have: to fill immediate needs. For the Ducks, those priorities are primarily on the defensive side of the ball. One of those is safety, where Oregon has a tremendous need for bodies amidst transfers and pending losses due to eligibility.
Matt Zenitz of 247 Sports reported that the Ducks are likely to land former Kansas State safety Kobe Savage, a 2-time All-Conference selection over the last two years. With Steve Stephens IV and Evan Williams out of eligibility (even in today’s world of CFB), that would help fill an immediate need. Although, I would be surprised if Savage is the only safety the Ducks take out of the transfer portal. They’ve also got a pair of 4-star safety recruits from the 2023 class and another one incoming in the 2024 cycle.
That’s one need.
Aside from the Pac-12 Championship game, the Ducks’ defensive line was superb at generating pressure on opposing QBs and stifling run games this season. We are still waiting to hear from Jordan Burch regarding the NFL, and that’s a big name to watch. He finished the year with 3 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss and his absence (after an injury) was notable against Washington in Las Vegas.
Even if he returns for his senior season, Oregon’s defensive line will be very different next year. Brandon Dorlus, Popo Aumavae, Taki Taimani, Casey Rogers, and Mase Funa will all be off the roster. That’s 10.5 sacks and a LOT of snaps departing this year’s defense.
There are a bevy of blue chip prospects from the 2023 and 2024 classes that I expect to make a considerable impact next fall for Dan Lanning, Tosh Lupoi and Chris Hampton. Names like A’Mauri Washington, Johnny Bowens, My’Keil Gardner and others from the 2023 class could be ready to step up alongside incoming 5-star defensive linemen Aydin Breland and Elijah Rushing.
Can you rely entirely on those guys taking a step forward or being ready to contribute right away? Probably not, which is why the Ducks have been looking at former Texas A&M DT and #1 overall recruit Walter Nolen, along with Michigan State DT Derrick Harmon.
Oregon has also been tied to Cayden Green, an interior offensive lineman from Oklahoma. That’s not as pressing of a need as DL and safety, but it’s hard to pass up a player of Green’s caliber whilst losing a guy like Steven Jones (eligibility). Jones was a first team All-P12 selection this year alongside Rimington award winner Jackson Powers-Johnson, given to the nation’s top center.
We are still waiting to hear from former 5-star QB Dante Moore (maybe not by the time you read this?) but I believe that’s very much still in play. The wild card position group for this transfer cycle in Eugene is the wide receiving corps. 5-star WR Jurrion Dickey was a non-factor as a true freshman, as was redshirt freshman Kyler Kasper who has immense potential. Are they ready to be starting-caliber wide receivers? What happens with Tez Johnson? I also feel that Gary Bryant Jr. and Traeshon Holden could both take on larger roles than they had this year behind Franklin and Johnson.
It’s portal/bowl/recruiting season. What’s hilariously confusing about that? The idea that someone drew it all up and said “yep, that’s the best we can do!”
Maybe we should all listen to Chip Kelly instead.
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.