Sophomore athlete Brenden Schooler will start at wide receiver for Oregon this season. He was previously listed on my projection series for the starting safety position.
As a true freshman, the safety was a bright-spot for an inconsistent defense. Head coach Willie Taggart is now asking Schooler to bring his consistency to the other side of the ball.
“He has great ball skills, really strong hands and he can run,” Taggart stated. “All the things you’re looking for and he has some size. I’m really excited to see him continue to grow at that position and see how the Herbert-Schooler combination helps us.”
We are just 15 days away from Oregon’s first game against Southern Utah on Saturday, September 2 at Autzen Stadium.
This is the final piece from a 22-part series predicting the starters. Now, it’s time for the final offensive starter projection of Taggart’s 2017-18 team:
WILLIE TAGGART’S 11
QUARTERBACK - Justin Herbert (Tuesday)
RUNNING BACK - Royce Freeman (Wednesday)
WIDE RECEIVER - Charles Nelson (Thursday)
WIDE RECEIVER - Dillon Mitchell (Friday)
TIGHT END - Jacob Breeland (Saturday)
LEFT TACKLE - Tyrell Crosby (Sunday)
LEFT GUARD - Shane Lemieux (Monday)
CENTER - Jake Hanson (Tuesday)
RIGHT GUARD - Jake Pisarcik (Wednesday)
RIGHT TACKLE - Calvin Throckmorton (Thursday)
STARTING WIDE RECEIVER, BRENDEN SCHOOLER
The Mission Viejo High School product is a football player at the end of the day. Some may want to define him as the position he plays, but that is simply not the entire story.
“For a guy that hasn’t played the position for us, he’s picked up some things really well,” said Taggart after the first week of fall camp. “The kid has really strong hands and great ball skills. And he can run. He’s done a good job. I think he can do this.”
Schooler had moments of brilliance as a true freshman starter on the defense. He finished third on the team in tackles (74). He appeared in all 12 Duck games last season, including starting 10 of them. He led the team in interceptions with four. Schooler finished inside the national Top 10 for tackles by true freshmen.
But with the depth stacking up in the defensive backfield, Taggart and his staff addressed a need at wide receiver.
“We have some depth there (safety), only so many can play,” said Taggart. “Overall, we just got to see what’s best for our football team. We felt like putting Schooler over there (at wide receiver) could help our football team.”
Schooler will start at receiver on the outside, opposite the other outside receiver Dillon Mitchell. The true No. 1 pass-catching threat in the offense is slot man Charles Nelson, who should occupy a great deal of attention from the defense.
Additionally, look for Schooler more on special teams this season. He is in the mix with Mitchell, Nelson and some others for kick and/or punt return responsibilities. Schooler has strong, reliable hands that can be trusted in a punt return situation.
THE FINAL VERDICT
This should be interesting. Schooler will start to scratch the surface of his potential near the end of the season, as he finds his offensive rhythm. I can see him making some big plays this season, but his stats won’t jump off the page. School will grab 29 passes for 337 yards and five touchdowns. I see him being used heavily as a red zone target in the early going, before transitioning to a possession receiver with some agility down the road. Nevertheless, he will snag a game-winner from Herbert this season. His best performance will come vs Washington on Nov. 4 in Seattle. Schooler will register six grabs for 77 yards and two scores. He will house one punt in 2017-18.
If you missed any of our 22-part series, you can catch up at ATQ anytime!