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Football: 2023 Prep Signing Class

A review of prep signees and prospects for early playing time

The 102nd CIF State Track and Field Championships in Clovis, California.
Rodrick Pleasant of Serra wins the 100 meter dash during the 102nd CIF State Track and Field Championships
Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

National Signing Day - February 1st, 2023

.9575 - ATH Rodrick Pleasant, 5-11, Gardena, CA

Pleasant’s commitment today was a remarkable recruiting coup that capped a top-10 signing class for Oregon in the 2023 cycle. He’s potentially a two-way player with experience at wide receiver and is a California champion track athlete with incredible footspeed – 10.14 seconds in the 100m and 20.40 seconds in the 200m. Most of his tape is at cornerback, and while Oregon has plenty of returners at that position there’s certainly an opportunity for an unmistakably talented athlete to break in as true freshman.

Early Signing Day - December 21st, 2022

The official roster has been updated with all of the incoming freshmen from early signing day, and I’ve taken their projected position, height, and hometown from that list. Also included are links to their pages with prep highlight tape, and their 24/7 composite talent rating (.89 is the 4-star threshold, .98 for 5-star).

Offensive Skill Players

NCAA Football: Eastern Washington at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon returns enough experience, plus two incoming wideout transfers, that none of the six freshmen skill players should need to play a significant amount of meaningful time and I expect the staff to try and keep all of their redshirts intact.

However, this is such a talented group that I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of them on the field within their four-game-plus-bowl allotment that would allow them to retain their redshirt, or even burn it if need be. The Ducks’ backup QB situation last year turned out to be dire and I think there’s a strong chance that Novosad competes for the second spot. RB coach Locklyn seems to prefer a four-back rotation and isn’t shy about playing a true freshman. I think OC Stein will mostly play out of 11-personnel but there will only be two scholarship TEs on the roster other than Sadiq so he’s got a good chance to play as a backup.

Both Cozart and Dickey are listed at 6-3 and should be outside receivers. Oregon only has two returners and one incoming transfer at that height or taller, so I think these two are the most likely of this group of prep recruits to play right away in regular rotation.

Offensive Line

NCAA Football: Oregon at California John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon rotated nine offensive linemen during meaningful play last season. Four of those return as well as four more who didn’t see the field outside of garbage time, plus the Ducks have taken two experienced and highly regarded transfers. I expect the returners and transfers to make up the starting line and primary rotational players in 2023, with all of the prep recruits redshirting.

Silva is Oregon’s only Juco in the 2023 class, and if anyone in this group makes it to the rotation during meaningful play I would guess it’d be him. The Ducks are very deep with experienced guards but could use some depth at tackle, and Silva’s size and two years of college development fit the bill, as he was the top rated Juco lineman this cycle.

Defensive Front

NCAA Football: Fresno State at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The defensive front is the most difficult group to make specific positional predictions for because it’s so dependent on how individual bodies develop as they add muscle and/or shed bad weight. There’s a lot of uncertainty about that before they’re on campus, and there’s still usually some movement during and beyond their freshman year in college. Oregon hasn’t posted their official weights on the roster and tends to lag behind most other Pac-12 schools in doing so, and as such we’re left to make guesses right up until the season begins in Fall.

The Ducks return six defensive tackles — four with plenty of career playing time plus two who redshirted last year — and don’t appear to have taken any transfers for the interior defensive line. Four of the six returners are officially listed as over 300 lbs so they certainly have the nose tackle position covered. I think there could be some meaningful playing time in the rotation for a true freshman here at the other DT spot, and all five prep recruits currently listed as “DL” are talented enough with the right frames that I could see them get it, but we’ll have to wait and see how they take to the training table.

The outside spots on the line of scrimmage – DE, Edge, and OLB – are even more fluid, and they’ve added one coveted transfer already. At this point Oregon is set to return four players I consider defensive ends, but there’s a huge falloff in ability and experience between the top guy and the other three. I believe there’s substantial opportunity here for one or more new players to get meaningful playing time as a fist-down end in 2023. I was very interested to see the highest rated recruit, Uiagalelei, as the only signee listed as “DE” on the official roster, since Oregon tends to be pretty sparing with that label.

Outside linebacker saw most of the unit depart after the 2022 season, with only one experienced returner plus two redshirt freshmen coming back in 2023. I’m curious about the “Edge” designation for Moore and Porter since the Ducks didn’t use that label last year, and in the structure of head coach Lanning’s defense the edge rush comes from OLBs, though those need to be separated into weak- and strongside backers schematically. These should be the most interesting Spring and Fall battles on the entire team, again with substantial opportunity for a new player to get meaningful playing time or even become a starter given Oregon’s severe problems with the pass rush in 2022.

Oregon returns two experienced inside backers plus two bluechip redshirt freshmen, and has taken two veteran transfers. That likely means Mixon will redshirt.

Defensive Secondary

San Diego Credit Union Holiday Bowl - Oregon v North Carolina Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

There’s some guesswork here with who’ll become outside corners, boundary and field safeties, and the STAR nickelback. Oregon has six returning corners and took an experienced bluechip transfer, which I expect means that any freshmen the Ducks have tabbed as future CBs will likely redshirt. I think that’ll include Davis, Gill, and Martin based on their high school tape.

I’m not sure if any of the prep recruits will line up for the STAR position. The Ducks return a veteran at the position and took a coveted transfer, plus they return a bluechip redshirt freshman. That’s enough depth that they might not have any of the true freshman working out here except as some cross-training, and I doubt there’s any available meaningful playing time.

Oregon has five returners for the safety positions — two with substantial experience, two backups, and a redshirt freshman – and they took a veteran transfer. That’s enough that they shouldn’t need any true freshmen to play, but between some questionable play in the past and getting a new safeties coach in co-DC Hampton, this unit might be due for a shake-up.


COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 12 Washington at Oregon Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Oregon returns both of its primary placekickers from 2022, but loses its starting longsnapper and the most used of the three dedicated punters in rotation. Kicker looks to be well ordered and Meadors is considered the top recruit at his position in the country (as well as the 53rd ranked punter, interestingly). The backup longsnapper returns but didn’t see the field often, and Duzansky is ranked the 7th best recruit at his position, so that might be a battle.

Punting was something of a mess last season with five different guys giving it the boot (including a few by a placekicker and the QB on a couple pooches). I don’t think either of the returners was reliable enough to have the job locked down, but we don’t know much about Dunne as a candidate either – he participated in ProKick Australia which has produced some real gridiron talents over the years, but doesn’t do rankings or show tape, and there’s no hudl film for him. But he’s the only specialist to whom Oregon gave a scholarship this cycle, which is an intriguing vote of confidence.