Looking Into The Oregon Ducks’ Transfer Portal Pickups Ahead Of Big Ten Competition

By ANNA MILLER, OREGON SPORTS NEWS

While the Oregon Ducks’ coaching staff will not change much, they will face a lot of change in their upcoming season. Without Bo Nix quarterbacking the team and facing new competition in a new conference, Oregon is in unfamiliar territory.

The Ducks have been building their culture over the past few years, and that development is evident in both the roster they have cultivated and the facilities they have built. The collaboration between Nike and the university allows the football team to utilize new Nike innovations that other football teams cannot access.

So, with the transfer portal recently closed and the roster becoming finalized, it’s important to look at how Oregon did in the portal, especially on the berth of joining the Big Ten.

Dillon Gabriel (QB)

One of the Ducks’ biggest pickups is their new quarterback, Dillon Gabriel. Similar to Nix, Gabriel has extensive experience in collegiate football. Starting his career at the University of Central Florida, Gabriel averaged a 62.63% completion rate, ultimately sustaining a season-ending injury in his junior year.

Transferring to Oklahoma, he increased his average completion rate to 66% and started all 24 games of his career as a Sooner. Leading Oklahoma to a 10-3 overall record, he is more than capable of bringing that talent to Oregon. While he doesn’t have the ‘star power’ Nix carried, Gabriel, along with the Ducks’ lethal offense, will be a force in the Big Ten.

Evan Stewart (WR)

Additionally, Oregon picked up a wide receiver in Texas A&M transfer, Evan Stewart. At 6 feet tall and 175 pounds, Stewart will begin his junior season wearing green and yellow. Totaling six touchdowns and 1163 yards over two seasons, Stewart’s accolades in the SEC conference speak for themselves.

Against stiff competition, such as Alabama and Auburn, Stewart showcased his ability to be a reliable receiver for his quarterback. Carrying Freshman All-American honors from the SEC, The Athletic, ESPN, and the FWAA, Stewart will add to the already deep Ducks offense.

Kam Alexander (CB)

When Oregon dipped into the transfer portal, it picked up two cornerbacks in rising seniors Jabbar Muhammed and Kam Alexander. Alexander hails from the University of Texas at San Antonio. While Alexander holds impressive stats with the Roadrunners, the Big Ten is a new beast compared to his previous competition, and he will need to adapt to the pace and intensity to play at the caliber of the new conference.

Jabbar Muhammed (CB)

On the other hand, Muhammed transferred within the conference from Washington to land his spot with the Ducks. Earning 2023 All-Pac-12 Second Team honors and notching 14 passes defended his junior season, Muhammed ranked seventh in the nation in passes defended and set a Husky record with 14 pass break-ups in a single season.

Muhammed knows many teams in the new Big Ten conference and has excelled in that environment, so he will likely excel in Oregon.

Ja’Maree Caldwell (DL)

Ending the season fourth in the Big-12 in sacks per game, Ja’Maree Caldwell comes to Oregon from Houston, bringing talent to the defensive line. In the 2023-24 season, Caldwell tallied 6.5 sacks, the majority coming from the final six games of the season, as well as completed 22 solo tackles. Weighing in at six-foot-one and 325 pounds, Caldwell will be a mighty presence on the defensive line.

Peyton Woodyard (S)

Safety Peyton Woodyard holds a more complicated background. Woodyard will begin his collegiate career with the Ducks despite being a transfer from Alabama. He committed and signed to be a Crimson Tide at the end of 2023 and enrolled at Alabama following its loss to Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

However, on April 29th, Woodyard entered the transfer portal, and six days later, he was committed to Oregon. His high school career was strong, making him the No. 107 recruit overall. Although he originally planned to wear Crimson and White, he ultimately decided to stay on the West Coast and don green and yellow.

Derrick Harmon (DL)

The Ducks’ ultimate defensive pickup is in Michigan State transfer Derrick Harmon. Clocking in at 320 pounds and six-foot-five, Harmon recorded 40 tackles last season, the most among the Spartan defensemen. Many schools were interested in Harmon, from the University of Southern California to Florida State and Ohio State. Ultimately, he decided Oregon was the place for him and get to remain at the conference he had called home for the last three years.

As far as where the Ducks stand against their Big Ten opposition, they’re in a really good place. Within the conference, Oregon ranks at the top of success in the transfer portal, especially with players like Harmon and Gabriel donning the iconic Ducks jersey in the fall. Every year, with Dan Lanning at the helm, Oregon becomes a stronger team, and this roster is no exception.

As the culture builds and wins are added to the win column, the Ducks are becoming a national force. And with their success in the transfer portal and new competition to face, the positive trajectory is likely to continue.

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