As the Oregon Ducks prepare for the 2014 season, they have a lot to like about their offense. They return a Heisman Trophy candidate under center in Marcus Mariota, have All-Pac-12 center Hroniss Grasu back for another year, and have a dynamic tandem at running back with Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner. But the team has a glaring need at wide receiver heading into the fall. Can redshirt freshman Devon Allen help fill it?
Heading into the offseason, Oregon faced the prospect of replacing three of their top four pass catchers from 2013. Josh Huff and Daryle Hawkins graduated while De’Anthony Thomas declared early for the NFL Draft. As if that wasn’t enough production to replace, the team lost Bralon Addison to a knee injury (the one returning receiver in the top four from last season) leaving the receiving corps almost entirely depleted of known entities.
Together, Huff, Addison, Hawkins, and Thomas combined for 168 catches, 2,623 yards receiving, and 23 touchdowns. Nobody on the roster that will be ready for the start of the 2014 season caught more than 20 passes last season which opened the doors for former unknowns to step up during spring practice. That’s where Allen came into the picture.
The dual-sport Allen (he also runs track) had a phenomenal spring session as he seized the opportunity of added reps. He came into the spring as a relative unknown among a sea of unknowns at receiver but emerged as a leading contender for a starting job next fall. Allen’s blazing speed provides a game-breaking ability in the passing attack and his year as a redshirt allowed him to learn the playbook while watching veterans like Huff and Hawkins work.
With the door wide open this spring to make a name for himself, Allen ran to the top of the depth chart for next fall. With all the other pieces in place for the Ducks’ offense heading into 2014, the young speedster could be in for a breakout season and a bright career on the football field.