Preseason Camp Preview: DB
Who's back: With Verone McKinley III and Mykael Wright no longer in Eugene, the Ducks will look for some new faces to step up in the secondary in 2022 – but can count on some familiar faces to fill those voids, too. At safety, Jamal Hill proved his playmaking ability in 2020 and Bennett Williams did so in the first month of 2021 before being injured. Steve Stephens IV was a starter on the back end before suffering a midseason injury last fall, and both Bryan Addison and Trikweze Bridges bring incredible length to the secondary, along with a bunch of experience contributing to UO special teams the last couple years.
Two younger guys with the talent to break through this fall are Daymon David and JJ Greenfield. David was a special teams contributor before being hampered by injuries last season, while Greenfield is back with the program after a season away. Greenfield has ballhawking ability that conjures former UO safety Erick Dargan. There's more veteran depth from Marko Vidackovic, Max Wysocki and Dane Sipos.
At corner, Dontae Manning is a former five-star prospect with the opportunity to back up that projection this fall. Avante Dickerson and Darren Barkins were pressed into bigger roles late last season and now look to build on that experience. The developmental squad last year included Timon Davis and Devin Morrow at corner, and both return for 2022.
Who's new: There's a bunch of new talent on hand for this camp, including cornerback Christian Gonzalez, a 12-game starter in the Pac-12 last season who transferred to Oregon and participated in spring drills. Donovan Dalton also joined the Ducks as a transfer in the spring, and Jahlil Florence was on hand after signing with the recruiting class of 2022. Spring also saw former linebacker Jonathan Flowe move to safety.
Among the new Ducks for this preseason camp are 2022 recruits Khamari Terrell, Jalil Tucker and Trejon Williams. Also, UO baseball player Bryce Boettcher is joining the football team for practices as a safety. Other newcomers for August include Dominic Stephens, DJ Beckum, Rayquan Williams and Zach Grisham.
What to watch: There's a lot of talent on hand, and a lot for coaches to sort through during preseason camp. The experience that guys like Gonzalez, Williams and Hill have at the Pac-12 level is no doubt valuable, but the competition for reps will be fierce as Dan Lanning and his defensive staff sort through all the possible lineups and rotations they could field in 2022. The versatility of guys like Stephens, Bridges and Addison only adds to the possible permutations available.