Monday, March 26, 2012
Biggest shoes to fill: Oregon
By ESPN.com staff
Starters in, starters out. That's college football. Players' eligibility expires and they leave for the rest of their lives, whether that includes the NFL or not.
And they leave behind shoes of various sizes that need to be filled.
Our concern with this series? The biggest shoes -- in some cases Shaq-like size 23s.
Big shoes: WR Lavasier Tuinei
While De'Anthony Thomas was the Ducks' most dynamic receiver in 2011, Tuinei was the team leader in receptions with 48 and touchdowns with 10. And we all saw what he did in the Rose Bowl: eight receptions for 158 yards with two touchdowns. Oregon has plenty of holes to fill: quarterback, tailback, rover, defensive end and two spots on the offensive line. But in most cases you can say who will step in, or at least you can talk about how good the folks are competing at that position. You can't say that about who will replace Tuinei.
Stepping in: Josh Huff, Rahsaan Vaughn,Devon Blackmon, B.J. Kelley or Tacoi Sumler
If ability meets performance, the Ducks will be fine at receiver. But there are no guarantees that will happen based on the actual past performances of these five thus far in their careers. Huff? Forget for a moment his off-field issues. He's yet to prove he's a natural receiver, a guy ready to catch six or so passes per game. Vaughn is the same thing. He's a talented JC transfer but he, nonetheless, only caught 14 passes last season. And then there are the three redshirt freshman, whom we've previously noted. They each were touted recruits and have plenty of talent. But none were impressive enough to Chip Kelly or Mark Helfrich to drop their redshirt in 2011. The bottom line: There is no sure-thing here.