The Oregon Ducks have been gradually adding pieces in their offense from the transfer portal. Today we take a look at the offensive positions that the Ducks have added.
Running back Noah Whittington (5-9, 175 lbs.) transferred in April from Western Kentucky. He was a 3* recruit for the Hilltoppers in 2020 and led WKU in rushing last season with 617 yards. As with many of the other transfers this year to the Ducks, Whittington followed a coach that he had worked with previously, as running backs coach Carlos Locklyn coached last year for the Hilltoppers.
Whittington brings college game experience to a room that saw two very experienced runners move on in C.J. Verdell and Travis Dye. Whittington showed some of that experience in the 2022 spring game, leading all rushers with 84 yards on 11 carries with a long run of 45 yards, while also taking three receptions for 13 yards. That doesn’t mean he’s a lock for being a top contender in the room - we saw a very limited running game in the spring - but his performance in the spring game would indicate that he’s ready to compete at the next level.
Another addition to the running back room is Mar’keise Irving (5-10, 190 lbs.). Irving was a 4* recruit from Chicago that played his freshman year in 2021 with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. He led Minnesota last year with 966 all-purpose yards, including rushing for 699 yards with 4 touchdowns, placing him second in rushing yards. Irving also returned eight kickoffs for 194 yards.
Irving, along with Whittington, brings not just depth to a depleted running back corps, but real value to the room. This is a talented Big 10 running back that sports respectable numbers in a Power 5 conference. He did not play in the spring game but will be a player to keep an eye on this fall.
Wide receiver Caleb Chapman (6-5, 200 lbs.) is a senior that transferred from Texas A&M, where he was on their roster for four seasons, redshirting in his freshman year. He was a 4* recruit out of Texas that the Ducks had originally offered when he came out of high school in 2018. He has two years of eligibility remaining.
Chapman does not have impressive numbers while at Texas A&M, largely due to a pair of season-ending injuries. The first occurred two games into his freshman season (and he redshirted as a result), and the other was three games into his 2020 season. The 2020 injury was especially heartbreaking for him, because Chapman was off to a blistering start in those three games. In 2021, Chapman played in six games, starting two. He pulled in 13 receptions for 210 yards for a 16.2 yard average per catch.
Oregon had notable departures in its wide receivers after the 2021 season. The Ducks are taking something of a gamble on Chapman, but if he can stay healthy he’s capable of using his height to be a real threat to any secondary.
Offensive tackle Brayden Zolkoske (6-7, 340 lbs.) is a JUCO transfer from Merced College as a preferred walk-on. He’s local talent, having played high school ball in Tigard, OR. He played in a Ducks camp while in high school in the summer of 2017 before making an official visit to Oregon in 2018, then played 2020 and 2021 at Merced.
There’s very little information on Zolkoske; but given his obvious size, he fits the metric that Oregon is looking for in acquiring big bodies on their offensive and defensive lines.
Jake Van Dyne
Quarterback Jake Van Dyne (6-3, 192 lbs) is a transfer from FCS school Missouri State and played high school ball in Liberty, MO. He was a backup for the Bears that saw limited playing time. Van Dyne is not really a threat at all to the existing QBs at Oregon and is likely going to fill a scout team role with the Ducks as well as adding some depth to the room.
Running back Brison Cobbins (5-8, 180 lbs.) is a walk-on transfer from Missouri Western State. He comes from Kansas City, KS, and goes into 2022 as a sophomore. Last season for the Griffons, Cobbins had 120 yards on 27 carries.
Running back Kilohana Haasenritter (6-0, 190 lbs.) is a walk-on transfer from the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. A Hawaiian native, Haasenritter redshirted last year and played for the scout team.
Malachi Russell (6-0, 170 lbs.) is a wide receiver JUCO walk-on transfer from Palomar College in San Diego County. He played for the Comets in 2018-19 and 2021-22. Last season he played seven games, with 427 yards on 27 receptions. Russell is from Oceanside, CA, and will be wearing #85 for the Ducks. He is rated as a 3* JUCO WR prospect by 247Sports.
UCLA wide receiver Chase Cota (6-3, 209 lbs.) committed to Oregon back in February. He was a 4* recruit and the #2 recruit out of Oregon in 2018, having played high school football at South Medford HS. Cota played in all of the games of the 2019, 2020, and 2021 seasons. Last season he was a starter in 10 of UCLA’s 12 games, and pulled in 18 receptions for 286 yards and one touchdown.
Cota certainly made his presence known in the spring game, where he caught 6 passes for 100 yards. The addition of Chapman and Cota to a wide receiver room that also has Seven McGee and Dont’e Thornton puts Oregon in a good place ahead of the 2022 season.
Quarterback Bo Nix (6-3, 214 lbs.) looks to be finishing his college career at Oregon. Ducks fans will remember Nix from when he led the Auburn Tigers to an opening game victory in the 2019 season. He earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors in that season and struggled in the following seasons, never quite capturing the magic of 2019.
Nix may find that magic again. He is following his offensive coordinator and QB coach, Kenny Dillingham, from that 2019 season as Dillingham held the same position at Auburn that year.
Nix was electrifying in the spring game this year, passing 8 for 15 for 230 yards with three TDs and one interception. His opening pass to Seven McGee for 70 yards and a touchdown caused the Autzen stadium crowd to go full volume and served as an opening statement on how Lanning and Dillingham were going to operate differently from Cristobal and Moorhead.
At this point, the starting job appears to be Nix’s to lose, but he’ll feel real competition from Ty Thompson and Jay Butterfield, because they also had a very good spring game.
Kicker Andrew Boyle (6-2, 193 lbs.) is a transfer from the Washington State Cougars who is potentially a great addition to Oregon’s kicking game. He comes from Camas, WA, and is a redshirt sophomore.
Boyle has a “big leg” reputation. Witness this 72 (!) yard field goal:
As with the defense, Oregon has made excellent use of the transfer portal to add depth in positions of concern. At least at this point, Dan Lanning and his staff seem to have no misses in their use of the transfer portal going into the 2022 season.