New Faces, Same Results
Have you heard of the name De’Anthony Thomas before? Does it strike a bell or two?
While there are many new faces on college football teams every season, few are able to start and make an impact the way Thomas did for the Oregon Ducks in 2011-2012.
With a reloaded roster and plenty of existing and incoming talent, expect there to be a bevy of newcomers to the Ducks that will start for them in their week one matchup against Gus Malzahn and the Arkansas State Red Wolves.
Though there may be some debate as to what is considered a “rookie” in college football, for arguments sake we will assume that both freshmen and redshirt freshmen are eligible for the rookie title in this article, as neither of them have seen playing time during a Saturday night classic yet.
Before proceeding further, changes have been made to this article in relation to other articles similar to this one that are done for Washington, Washington State, and Oregon State. Since the Oregon Ducks run a completely different system that is based on the interchanging of players throughout the game, an article that states what rookies will play during the day would be more appropriate.
Though there are some positions that will be more stable than others (such as the quarterback and running-back positions), many positions on both sides of the ball for the Ducks are played on a rotating basis. While the players who start are surely the ones with more skill, each and every player that rotates into the game for the Ducks are just as crucial to the team.
With 6 returning starters on offense and 8 on defense, there is sure to be many new faces on both sides of the ball.
So, without further ado, here are five rookies that I expect to *play* for the Ducks against the Red Wolves:
Arik Armstead – DL – 6’8″, 297 lbs. – Freshman
One of the top players in the class of 2012,Arik Armsteadhas already been making headlines around Eugene for the way he plays and the talent he brings onto the field.
Armstead, who will play on the defensive side of the ball for the Ducks, was a two sport star (football and basketball) at Pleasant Grove High School in California. He is a tenacious, explosive, and big player that is too good to not be placed on the Oregon line early on in the season.
With players such as Dion Jordan and Ricky Heimuli accompanying him on the defensive line, expect Armstead to grow into this Oregon defensive scheme quickly and make it one of the best in the history of the program. While he will need to take some time to grasp the system Oregon runs, Armstead has already shown that he is more than equipped to start and play for the Ducks.
In Oregon’s spring game, Armstead recorded one tackle and a forced fumble on his way to an impressive debut in front of the Autzen faithful.
Expect to see Armstead either starting or seeing significant playing times against the Red Wolves.
Marcus Mariota – QB – 6’4″, 196 lbs. – RS Freshman
Though Bennett should be held in the highest regard and is quite the talented athlete, Mariota presents a more viable and long-term solution for the Ducks, with the same (if not better) skills as Bennett.
Being blanketed behind a curtain for most of the spring, the much-hyped was formally introduced to Oregon supporters in the spring game, where he impressively led his squad to a resounding victory.
In the game, Mariota showcased an accurate, strong arm while also showing his impressive mobility and speed.
While Bennett has a more veteran presence about him, Mariota provides the Ducks with the same package as Bennett plus a little more accuracy, speed, and longevity. Unlike Bennett who has three years left at Oregon (should he choose to remain for all of them), Mariota has all four years left to develop into one of the greater quarterbacks in Oregon history.
Starting him against Arkansas State will be the first step en route to a brilliant career.
B.J. Kelley – WR – 6’2″, 179 lbs. – RS Freshman
Despite being overshadowed by Tacoi Sumler and Devon Blackmon as a wide receiver recruit at the University of Oregon, so far it has been B.J. Kelley showing flashes of greatness and poise as the season approaches.
While returners Josh Huff and Rahsaan Vaughnwill see most of the attention at wide receiver this year, expect Kelley to emerge as a viable option for the Ducks against the Red Wolves.
Though he has some muscle to gain, Kelley is one of the fastest players on the team, giving the Ducks a potential deep threat on just about any play. Besides his speed, Kelley has proven to have some of the most reliable hands on the team, collecting a lot of praise from the coaching staff and his fellow teammates.
Expect to see B.J. Kelley garner significant playing time and attention against Arkansas State.
Tyson Coleman – LB – 6’1″, 217 lbs. – RS Freshman
Despite an already talented linebacking corps, Tyson Coleman should see valuable playing time against Arkansas State as he has shown the coaching staff and fans that he is ready to play at the college level.
Coleman brings a fast and solid presence to the defense that is engineered for his style of play. He has consistently shown flashes of greatness, even during his redshirt season.
In back-to-back weeks, Coleman earned the scout team’s player of the week award for his performance before games against both Stanford and Washington. Coleman also made his presence known to fans as he intercepted a pass and returned it for six in the 2012 Oregon Spring Game.
Expect to see Coleman out on the field against the Red Wolves as Oregon looks to have one of its best defensive units in history.
Andre Yruretagoyena – OL – 6’5″, 264 lbs. – RS Freshman
With the way Oregon operates it’s offensive line, Andre Yruretagoyena should see plenty of action this season as well as against the Red Wolves come the opener.
Yruretagoyena is a beast of a man who will be a valuable asset as the Ducks will be looking for younger players to step up as a group of seniors will soon rotate out. He excels in run and space blocking, assets that are key to the fluidity of the Oregon offense.
Expect Andre to be one of the many new faces on the field for the Ducks against Arkansas State.