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The Webfoot Awards: Nominees for Newcomer of the Year

Who was the best freshman for Oregon athletics last season?

NCAA Football: Oregon Spring Game Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Maggie Balint:

En route to the Ducks trip to Oklahoma City for the College Softball World Series, Balint played a large role. Maggie, a pitcher hailing from Pennsylvania was ranked the number four recruit in the nation. The freshman pitcher was named as one of the three finalists for the NFCA national freshman of the year award.

Balint was a first team all-Pac 12 performer as well as a second team NFCA All-Region team. She finished second in the Pac-12 and tenth overall in the NCAA with a 1.16 ERA and led the PAC-12 with a .166 opponent batting average. This year she totaled a 21-3 record, 150 strikeouts, and three saves, leading the Ducks in all categories. Balint will look to build on her stellar freshman season to bring the Ducks back to Oklahoma City next season.

Troy Dye:

One of the only bright spots in the abysmal Oregon defense last year was the freshman, Troy Dye. Dye led all Pac-12 freshman in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks. His totals placed him second in total conference for tackles. Of the honors received last season, Dye was placed on the Football Writers Association of America freshman All-American team, the USA Today freshman All-American team as well as the ESPN freshman All-American team.

Dye’s best game might have come against UC Davis where he posted his season best solo tackles (7), tackles for loss (4.5) in addition to a QB sack and a blocked PAT. The Ducks defense certainly missed his presence in week three as they traveled to Nebraska in the loss, although I don’t think he could have been counted on to convert a two point conversion. This season, Dye will be moving inside to play the middle linebacker role in new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt’s defense.

Justin Herbert:

Heading into the season, the Ducks were looking at yet another graduate transfer in Dakota Prukop to lead the way for the Oregon offense. After the first few games, it became clear that Prukop was not going to be the guy, and Herbert was inserted to the starting lineup becoming the first true freshman to start since 1983. In just his second game at the helm, Herbert set the school single game record with six touchdown passes. He followed that up with a record setting offensive day setting school records with his 512 total offensive yards and 489 passing yards.

The freshman finished the year for the Ducks with 1,936 passing yards, 19 touchdown passes, 2 rushing touchdowns and four interceptions in seven starts. Herbert will look to take the Ducks back to a bowl game this year under the direction of new head coach Willie Taggart. If the spring game is any indication he will be in for a good season as he posted three touchdowns on 16 of 26 passing.

Sabrina Ionescu:

One of the main reasons that the Oregon women’s basketball program rode March all the way to the Elite Eight was thanks to star freshman Sabrina Ionescu. Rated the number four recruit in the country, Ionescu made an immediate impact for the Ducks. In her first season she had four triple-doubles which was the most of any NCAA freshman in school history, in addition to breaking the Oregon team record.

Ionescu was not short of accolades at the end of the season. She was named the US Basketball Writers Association freshman of the year, ESPNW Freshman of the year, Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and All-Pac 12 team. Ionescu has already won gold medals at the national level with the U16 and U17 teams. She will look to take the Ducks to an even higher level next year as Coach Kelly Graves brings in yet another phenomenal freshman class.

Payton Pritchard:

Coming into the season it appeared that Casey Benson had the starting point guard spot locked down after his successful sophomore campaign. Fast forward one year, and Casey Benson has transferred to the Grand Canyon ‘Lopes for his final collegiate year after losing his starting spot on the Final Four team. Of course, Benson lost his starting spot to the freshman Pritchard after just a few games.

After Pritchard was inserted into the lineup after the team’s fourth game, the Ducks racked up a 31-4 record. Last year, Pritchard averaged 7.4 points per game, 3.4 rebounds per game, and 3.6 assists per game. Of course, after the mass exit of Oregon players, Pritchard will be returning as the top returning statistical player in every category except for blocks. Pritchard had a knack for big shots (setting up Brooks’ game winner against UCLA thanks to his prior three). I truly think that had early fouls not hampered him in the North Carolina game he would have been a major contributor. His best statistical game arguably came at home against UCLA when the freshman compiled 15 points and nine assists. Pritchard will look to take on the go-to man role next year for the Ducks.


Best Newcomer

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  • 8%
    (12 votes)
  • 14%
    (20 votes)
  • 26%
    (35 votes)
  • 41%
    (55 votes)
  • 8%
    (12 votes)
134 votes total Vote Now