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Season In Review: WR/TE

Jan 14, 2022

Reviewing Oregon's 2021 season and looking ahead to spring drills.

WR: Devon Williams, So.; Troy Franklin, Fr.; Isaah Crocker, Sr.; Tevin Jeannis, So.; Korbin Williams, So.
WR: Jaylon Redd, Sr.; Mycah Pittman, So.; Kris Hutson, Fr.; Seven McGee, Fr. Jack Vecchi, Jr.; Spencer Curtis, RFr.; Von Reames, Fr.
WR: Johnny Johnson III, Sr.; Dont'e Thornton, Fr.; Isaiah Brevard, Fr.; Josh Delgado, So.
TE: Terrance Ferguson, Fr.; Moliki Matavao, Fr.; Spencer Webb, So.; Cam McCormick, Jr.; DJ Johnson, Jr.; Cooper Shults, Fr.; Tyler Nanney, RFr.; Patrick Herbert, RFr. (inj.)

Starters: After a year of rock-solid stability at receiver and tight end in 2020, the Oregon football team enjoyed no such thing in 2021. Seven different players started multiple games at receiver, and four different tight ends started at least once. Receiver Kris Hutson and tight end Spencer Webb each started the season-opening win over Fresno State and also the Alamo Bowl, but even they weren't immune to all the lineup shuffling that took place over the course of the season. Whether due to injured veterans (Jaylon Redd, Johnny Johnson III, Cam McCormick) or the emergence of young talent (Devon Williams, Terrance Ferguson), Oregon's pass-catching unit was consistently in flux.

Williams enjoyed a breakout season that earned him a starting job at midyear, on the way to 35 receptions for a team-high 557 yards and four touchdowns. Hutson caught 31 balls for 419 yards and two scores, and Johnny Johnson had 25 receptions for 331 yards and a touchdown before being injured late in the season. The trio of Johnson, Redd and Mycah Pittman actually started together twice in early October, but by November all three were out — Johnson was hurt in a win over Washington State, Redd was injured the next week in practice and Pittman opted to transfer that same week. That week culminated in the loss at Utah that knocked Oregon out of the College Football Playoff race, and though in hindsight the injuries at receiver were hardly the only factor in the Ducks' late-season losses, it certainly didn't help.

Those absences did allow for freshmen Troy Franklin and Dont'e Thornton to get more reps than they might have otherwise, and each caught a touchdown pass in the Alamo Bowl. The Ducks also got impact from true freshmen at tight end, where Terrance Ferguson led the unit with 17 receptions for 141 yards and two scores. Moliki Matavao started twice and caught nine balls, including a touchdown in the win at Ohio State. That game also saw the return to the starting lineup of tight end Cam McCormick, who had his first reception since 2018, a play that ended in cruel fashion, with another season-ending injury. He was reunited in the training room with Patrick Herbert, who suffered a season-ending injury in preseason camp.

Reserves: Among the Ducks' most talented pass receivers, tight end DJ Johnson, did double duty in 2021. He practiced both ways early in the year, as a pass-rush specialist on defense as well as on offense. Around midseason he focused solely on offense, but then for the Alamo Bowl he played primarily defense due to opt-outs and injuries there. The shuffling on offense also created an opportunity for running back Seven McGee to expand his role and move to slot receiver late in the year. And it provided chances for depth players including Isaah Crocker, Spencer Curtis and Tevin Jeannis to play their way into more game reps. Crocker in particular was a bright spot late in the year, catching six passes for 91 yards in the Ducks' two postseason games.

Developmental squad: Before making his first career reception in the Alamo Bowl, freshman Isaiah Brevard was a highlight machine for the developmental squad in 2021. If there's a 50-50 ball to be had, he's going to catch it. Josh Delgado, Korbin Williams and Von Reames also were regulars with the scout-team offense. Veteran Jack Vecchi swung between the travel squad and scout team before being sidelined by an injury late in the year. At tight end, Cooper Shults and Tyler Nanney held it down with the scout team; Shults was also a regular on special teams with the travel squad, before announing he will transfer to Nevada for next season.


WR: Troy Franklin, So.; Isaah Crocker, Sr.
WR: Kris Hutson, RFr.; Josh Delgado, Jr.; Von Reames, RFr.
WR: Dont'e Thornton, So.; Isaiah Brevard, RFr.
TE: Terrance Ferguson, So.; Moliki Matavao, So.; Spencer Webb, Jr.; DJ Johnson, Sr.; Patrick Herbert, So.; Tyler Nanney, So.; Cam McCormick, Sr. (inj.)

What To Watch: The silver lining of losing several receivers over the course of 2021 — Williams declared for the draft and opted out of the bowl game — is all the experience the younger wideouts got. Entering 2022, the Ducks have a cohort of young pass catchers who won't be getting their first significant taste of collegiate football in the fall. And what the Ducks will lack in experience given the graduation of Johnny Johnson and Redd, they'll have an uptick in height and length from the likes of Franklin, Thornton and Brevard. At tight end there's a lot to sort out come spring, based on the roster as it currently stands. An X factor is DJ Johnson, now a proven two-way player whose role on the 2022 team could be determined in part by where he can fill the biggest need.