Oregon Ducks: Devon Allen

Pac-12's lunch links

July, 8, 2014
Jul 8
2:30
PM ET
Cinnamon. It should be on tables in restaurants along with salt and pepper. Anytime someone says, "Ooh, this is so good -- what's in this?" the answer invariably comes back, "cinnamon." Cinnamon. Again and again.

It's hard not to look up and down the Pac-12 rosters and marvel at some of the offensive talent at just about every school. With 10 starting quarterbacks coming back, the fall promises to bring many sleepless nights for defensive coordinators in the conference.

And while the embarrassment of riches under center is one obvious storyline, there are plenty more dynamic position groups to keep an eye on.

We've been highlighting where each position group stands with camp rapidly approaching, and today we discuss which of those groups deserves to be considered the best of the best.

[+] EnlargeNelson Agholor
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesUSC's Nelson Agholor had 56 catches for 918 yards last season.
Chantel Jennings: This was hard, and for me it came down to running backs and wide receivers. But, considering how great the quarterback situation is in the Pac-12, I think the receivers, conference-wide, are going to have huge seasons. Go down the line and pick out guys who are going to be major, major names to know this year: Arizona State -- Jaelen Strong, Stanford -- Ty Montgomery, Oregon -- Devon Allen, USC -- Nelson Agholor, Utah -- Dres Anderson, Washington State -- everyone and their mother. Quarterbacks are only good when there are receivers on the other ends of their passes and this group of receivers will make this group of quarterbacks look very good (and vice versa).

What makes this even more impressive is to look at the wide receivers that are gone after the 2013 season. Oregon State lost Brandin Cooks. Colorado lost Paul Richardson. Oregon lost Josh Huff. USC lost Marqise Lee. That's some serious yardage and production to lose in one season. But even with that loss, this position group -- in my opinion -- is going to be incredibly impressive this upcoming season. In 2013, the Pac-12 played stage for the eventual Biletnikoff Award winner. I think the same could be true in 2014.

Kyle Bonagura: With so many talented receiving groups out there (don't sleep on Cal), it's hard to go with one over the other, but I'm not convinced that's the case at running back. Kevin Gemmell took a look at each team's group of backs, and while he classified three (Oregon, USC and Arizona State) as being in great shape, it's pretty clear what group stands out: Oregon.

There's only a select few places in the country where Byron Marshall or Thomas Tyner wouldn't be the unquestioned feature back. At Oregon, they might be the second and third best options on their own team. Behind quarterback Marcus Mariota, of course. That's scary. And after the trio combined for 2,464 yards and 32 touchdowns a year ago, there is every reason to expect more in 2014 -- starting with the fact that they'll be running behind one of the best lines in the conference.

Taking everything into account -- especially the element Mariota adds -- finding a better offensive backfield in the country would be a tough task. There are schools that have more impressive workhorse-type backs, but Oregon's unique combination between its style of play and talent, for my money, is unmatched.
Over the past few weeks we examined the Ducks, position-by-position, evaluating the talent. But since I was in Eugene last week for the NCAA Track & Field Championships, I figured I'd stop by the football offices to check in with one of the guys who knows that information best, offensive coordinator Scott Frost. Wednesday, we went through quarterback and running back highlights. Today, we're on to wide receiver, tight end and the offensive line.

WIDE RECEIVER
  • On Devon Allen: He was actually a late offer for the Ducks who was offered after Chip Kelly left for the NFL. There were a few spots open (initially there had only been one spot for a receiver). "It all kind of worked out that we offered him, and this is where he wanted to be. I knew he could be fast. I had no idea he could go 13.1 in the high hurdles."
  • Frost actually was at Allen's race last Saturday when Allen won the 110-meter hurdle national title. Frost said that he doesn't think Allen "looks like he'd be a track guy, he's built more like a football guy, he's thick."
  • On his mindset on the receivers: "We felt good about receiver even losing the guys we did, with Bralon [Addison] back and some young guys we think are really talented. We're just going to have to have some of those young guys step up quicker than they would've had to otherwise."
  • The first receiver that Frost brought up after Allen was redshirt freshman Darren Carrington. "He has to grow up quick, but he has it in him to be that guy." The next three receivers he mentioned were redshirt sophomore Dwayne Stanford, redshirt sophomore Chance Allen and early enrollee Jalen Brown. Frost said that he thought Brown was "in over his head a bit" from a conditioning standpoint this spring, which limited his reps, but he's up to speed now, and Frost could see him being a contributor in the fall. So it sounds like after Keanon Lowe and D. Allen, there's certainly a pecking order of things, but the competition is still very much open.
  • It's the youngest crop of receivers Frost has ever had, so I was curious if there were any way he could speed up the learning curve or provide a catalyst (other than just more and more live reps). "Sometimes there's just no replacing experience. But all those guys are competitors. … They're going to get their shots early. You see it all the time in sports, when people get their opportunities some of them reach out and take it with both hands and others struggle a little bit. We're just hoping we have a bunch of guys where the former happens."
  • Frost said something interesting about indicators regarding whether a young guy can play early -- it's typically more based on mental and emotional maturity than talent.
TIGHT ENDS
  • Look for these guys, like the running backs, to be more involved in the pass game. "We have three, which is more than we've had going into a year that I can remember. … We have three guys that we trust to go out there and do it, and there's probably going to be times that a couple of them -- if they're playing well -- deserve to be on the field, and we can play with two tight ends."
  • Pharaoh Brown's injury isn't going to limit him through the fall. Frost said it's just a matter of keeping him healthy through the season. "He's really talented."
  • Frost called John Mundt’s freshman year a "roller coaster" but said that when he was on, "he did some exceptional things."
  • Frost thought Mundt and Evan Baylis' biggest areas of growth over the past year has just been confidence. No surprise there.
OFFENSIVE LINE
  • I asked Frost about senior Hroniss Grasu taking the blame (for the line as a whole) for the losses last season. Grasu had said in the spring that he thought the group lacked toughness and got outmuscled in those games, and that's why the Ducks lost. "I wouldn't necessarily agree with that. I think we had two losses against teams that played really good games against us." Frost though the turnovers were a bigger problem in the Stanford and Arizona games. "If you play a team that does things right and you give them the ball that many times, that's a recipe for losing."
  • He wasn't surprised that Grasu said that, because he's that kind of a guy. He said it speaks to Grasu's leadership that he's willing to shoulder that kind of blame.
  • The line returns all five starters and considering the weight gain, the general consensus with everyone is that the Ducks should be just fine. But, I wanted to make sure to ask about a few backups who were getting significant reps during the spring season. Frost's thoughts: Redshirt junior Andre Yruretagoyena had his best spring season yet. He said the staff has high hopes for redshirt freshman Jake Pisarcik. He was impressed with redshirt junior walk-on Matt Pierson at right tackle.
EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon football can now claim a 2014 national title. Sort of.

On Saturday, redshirt freshman wide receiver Devon Allen won the 110-meter hurdles at the NCAA Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore.

[+] EnlargeDevon Allen
Steve Dykes/Getty ImagesDevon Allen says football is still first, but he plans to continue running track at Oregon.
Allen’s time of 13.16 seconds was the second-fastest ever recorded in college track and field and helped the Oregon men’s track team win its first team title since 1984.

“Off the last hurdle, it was pretty even,” Allen said. “And I know I’m a good sprinter and I could sprint off the last 15 meters, so I was just hoping that I had got it. … I felt like I had it when I leaned across the finish line.”

Allen said he has dropped 20 pounds from the end of the fall season until now, which has helped in football and track. He said that after this full year of participating in both sports, he has confidence that he’ll be able to continue during his time in Eugene.

Even with his recent and phenomenal successes on the track, football will continue to be his No. 1 sport, he said.

“I had a big day today,” Allen said. “But it’s still football first for now. We’ll see how my season goes.”

Summer lifting and conditioning begins in two weeks for the Ducks football team, but Allen isn’t completely leaving the track quite yet. He’ll compete at USA Track & Field Senior Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, California, from June 26-29.
During the next few weeks, we’re going to go through Oregon’s roster, position by position, examining what talent was lost to graduation or the NFL and what that leaves the Ducks with in 2014.

The wide receivers are up on Thursday.

Who was lost after the 2013 season: Josh Huff, Daryle Hawkins, Chad Delaney, Blake Stanton

Lost production: 89 catches, 1,510 yards, 15 touchdowns

Who’s back in 2014: Junior Bralon Addison*, redshirt senior Keanon Lowe, redshirt sophomore Chance Allen, redshirt junior B.J. Kelley, redshirt freshman Devon Allen, redshirt sophomore Dwayne Stanford, redshirt freshman Darren Carrington, senior Johnathan Loyd, redshirt sophomore Chris Tewhill, redshirt sophomore Austin Daich, redshirt senior Jeff Stolzenburg, incoming freshman Jalen Brown

* Questionable whether Addison will return for the 2014 season due to injury

Statistics of returning players: 85 catches, 1,234 yards, 11 touchdowns

Outlook: The Addison injury certainly doesn’t help anything (typically no injury does), because without his production the returning stats really are 24 catches, 344 yards and four touchdowns. Pretty meh.

Luckily, the wide receivers looked like they had quite a bit of potential during the spring game. Nine wide receivers caught passes, and Devon Allen was certainly the headliner of the day with his two touchdown receptions. Some of the younger players -- Carrington and Chance Allen -- showed potential too, though quarterback Marcus Mariota likely has the most established chemistry (in this group) with Lowe.

This will continue to be one of the biggest question marks heading in to the 2014 season because, as I’ve said before, Mariota’s Heisman campaign is only going to be as good as those on the receiving end of his passes. Look for Devon Allen to have a big season, for Lowe to be the most consistent player and for the receiving corps as a whole to be one of the youngest contributing position groups in recent history for the Ducks.

Other spring position reviews:
This week on the Oregon blog we took a look at five players (or rather, four players and one position group) who stood out through spring practices for the Ducks.

The group contained two defensive nods and three offensive nods. There was one no-brainer (quarterback Marcus Mariota) and a few backups from 2013 who could make huge impacts in 2014. And the most important standout this spring was the defensive line -- which got the nod as an entire position group after looking much improved in the Ducks' spring scrimmage.

Check out all five Oregon spring standouts here:

No. 5: WR Devon Allen
No. 4: S Erick Dargan
No. 3: QB Marcus Mariota
No. 2: RB Thomas Tyner
No. 1: The defensive line
Over the last two weeks we’ve been taking a look at some players who had big springs for their respective teams. Some are upperclassmen finally coming into their own, some are younger guys taking advantage of open spots on the depth chart, while others are leap frogging some older players and making a name for themselves. Regardless, there were plenty of impressive performances in the Pac-12 this spring. All of these players are going to play a big part for their teams this fall, but which player do you think will be the most crucial to his team’s success in 2014? Rank them 1-12 here.

Here’s a breakdown of the players we’ve profiled over the past two weeks:

Arizona: WR Cayleb Jones -- The Wildcats might have the deepest wide receiver group in the entire conference, but could a Texas transfer become the most important one of the bunch? With a year spent studying the offense and learning from the sideline, Jones could be a major factor.

Arizona State: LB D.J. Calhoun -- The early enrollee ended the spring listed as a starter with Antonio Longino at the weakside linebacker position. With the Sun Devils trying to replace three starting linebackers, could Calhoun become a significant contributor as a true freshman? Seems likely.

Cal: RB Daniel Lasco -- Lasco found himself taking some extra reps this spring as Khalfani Muhammad (last season’s leading rusher) split time between the Cal track and football teams this spring. During his career he has been slowed by injury, but now that he’s finally healthy and taking more reps, could he battle Muhammad for the lead spot this fall?

Colorado: WR Bryce Bobo -- Colorado fans should feel encouraged by Bobo’s spring game performance (five catches, 132 yards) as they head into the summer wondering who can replace Paul Richardson's yardage. It’s highly unlikely that it’ll be one single player, but could Bobo carry a large part of it?

Oregon: WR Devon Allen -- When he wasn’t running for the Oregon track team this spring he was running circles around some Ducks defensive backs. The redshirt freshman could prove to be a huge player for Oregon as they look to replace last season’s top-three receivers as well as injured Bralon Addison’s production.

Oregon State: WR Victor Bolden -- Could Bolden be a possible replacement for some of the yardage lost by Biletnikoff Award winner Brandin Cooks? He has seen most of his time on special teams, but could step up as a big contributor in the fall as QB Sean Mannion looks to have another very big season for the Beavers.

Stanford: DL Aziz Shittu -- The sophomore, who can play every spot on the defensive line for the Cardinal, has received high praise this spring. Coach David Shaw said Shittu was, “probably the player of spring for us.” If it’s good enough for Shaw, is that good enough for you?

[+] EnlargeNelson Agholor
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY SportsHow will USC wideout Nelson Agholor follow up his stellar 2013 season and excellent spring?
UCLA: CB Fabian Moreau -- He was a big contributor to the Bruins last season but during this spring season Moreau became a better leader for UCLA. Coach Jim Mora has given Moreau high praise and if the Bruins are able to take the South Division title next season, a bit part could be because of the breakout year Moreau could have.

USC: WR Nelson Agholor -- Chances are if you’re a USC fan, you know who Agholor is. If you’re not -- then he was the guy who played opposite Marqise Lee. But this spring Agholor took the steps to go from good WR to great WR, and next fall, the fruits of his labor could be on display for the entire conference to see.

Utah: RB Devontae Booker -- Booker is right on the heels of RB Bubba Poole, as displayed by his spring game performance (2 touchdowns, 19 carries, 103 yards). But between Booker, Poole and Troy McCormick, the Utes could have a three-headed monster at running back that Pac-12 teams would not enjoy having to face.

Washington: LB/RB Shaq Thompson -- He was the second-leading tackler for the Huskies last season so it wasn’t a defensive breakout spring for him. But considering he started getting offensive reps, it was a breakout spring for him as a running back. UW needs to replace Bishop Sankey’s yardage, could Thompson’s spring give him a jump start to do so?

Washington State: WR Vince Mayle -- The converted running back had a big spring for the Cougars. This spring Mayle got close to becoming quarterback Connor Halliday’s safety net. Considering Halliday threw for more than 4,500 yards last season, being his safety net would mean major, major yardage next fall.
The spring season for Oregon was relatively un-newsworthy (with the exception of the Bralon Addison injury). And when it comes to spring football, un-newsworthy is typically a good thing. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t standouts.

This week we’re going to take a look at five standouts from spring practices.

No. 5: wide receiver Devon Allen

[+] EnlargeDevon Allen
Steve Dykes/Getty ImagesRedshirt freshman receiver Devon Allen caught two touchdown passes in Oregon's spring game.
I’m not saying that Allen was the fifth-most important player to break out this spring, but because he has received a lot of love from us already (here, here and here), I figured we’d get him out of the way early.

Even so, Allen showing up this spring game was huge … possibly even more so than him showing up the 15 spring practices. Hear me out.

Through spring practice, coaches lauded the redshirt freshman's play. But without the public being able to really see anyone play, it’s tougher to just take their word. But when he caught that first touchdown pass in the spring scrimmage, then the second, he eased many minds.

The general feeling would have been quite somber if all the receivers looked average or only slightly better than average in the spring game. There would have been a lot more worry from Oregon fans. Who will be Marcus Mariota’s go-to receiver? Who can help Keanon Lowe in catching all those passes? Does such a small receiver corps ruin Mariota’s chances of a Heisman campaign? Does this knock Oregon out of the discussion of the top teams nationwide?

Allen could have dropped every pass in the spring game or let the pressure get to him and still had a great spring. But nobody is asking those questions because Allen looked so good and showed so much potential in the spring game. With two nearly-sure-thing wide receiver threats in the passing game in Lowe and Allen, fans can rest easy knowing that the season isn’t over before it starts, Mariota has a chance at the Heisman, etc.

Allen's big spring season was huge for the Ducks and huge for the general perception of the team. Allen is going to be a very, very important player for Oregon next fall. And the best part is, he’s young. His learning curve could be exponential. Will he be Superman in the first game or two of the season? Maybe. Maybe not. But the Allen that steps on the field for the season opener is going to be very different from the Allen that steps on the field in Game 12. And the Allen that steps on the field for Game 1 is already pretty darn good.
Over the next two weeks, the Pac-12 blog will be be looking around the conference at several players who really stood out during spring ball. It’s only 15 practices, but it’s enough time to catch the eyes of coaches and gain momentum going into the season.

Today we make our stop at Oregon.

Breakout player: WR Devon Allen

2013 statistics: Redshirted

The case for Allen: After the 2013 season, quarterback Marcus Mariota lost three of his top four receivers -- Josh Huff, Daryle Hawkins and De'Anthony Thomas. Then in spring ball the Ducks lost Bralon Addison to injury, leaving the wide receiving corps depleted and in need of a playmaker.

Enter: Allen. The redshirt freshman had a phenomenal spring for the Ducks and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The dual-sport Duck (he also runs track) emerged as one of the leading candidates for a starting spot in the fall after entering the spring as a relative unknown.

Allen provides top-end burner speed and, having redshirted last season, he has spent a lot of time in the playbook while learning from more experienced players. Those attributes could be enough to propel him to a very big season for the Ducks. Between Huff, Hawkins, Thomas and Addison, the Ducks will be looking to replace more than 2,500 receiving yards. Look for Allen to be a guy who could have a 600- or 700-yard season.

Other breakout players:
Spring football practice is right around the corner, but several Pac-12 players don't just have football on their minds.

For some, it's baseball season. For others, it's time for track and field.

Interestingly, Oregon State has the most football players participating in track despite not fielding an official men's team.

And a fun fact: Stanford coach David Shaw, who played football at Stanford, also played in one basketball game in the 1993-94 season and participated in a 400-meter race at one track meet.

Here's a list of Pac-12 football players who have or will participate in another sport this year:

[+] EnlargeWark
John Rivera/Icon SMICal outfielder Jacob Wark is also a wide receiver for the Bears.
Jacob Wark, Cal, baseball: After catching two passes for eight yards and a touchdown for the football team, Wark has transitioned to baseball, where he plays outfield. He's 3-for-4 on the season with an RBI.

Robbie McInerney, Cal, baseball: True freshman kicker redshirted during the football season and is a middle infielder on the baseball team. He has not appeared in four games.

Khalfani Muhammad, Cal, track and field: The Bears' leading rusher is currently participating on the indoor track team in sprints. He's recorded the team's third-fastest time in both the 60- and 200-meter dashes.

Dior Mathis, Oregon, track and field: Fifth-year senior cornerback appeared in all 13 games for the football team and has participated in both football and track (sprints) since his freshman year.

Devon Allen, Oregon, track and field: True freshman receiver redshirted during the football season. A sprinter and hurdler in track, Allen set personal bests in both the 60-meter hurdles and 60-meter dash at the Don Kirby Elite meet in Albuquerque, N.M., on Saturday. His time of 7.83 in the hurdles ranks fourth in school history.

Arik Armstead, Oregon, basketball: Armstead, a defensive lineman in football, began the year on the basketball team, but only appeared in one game before leaving the team to focus on football.

Victor Bolden, Oregon State, track and field: Freshman receiver had six catches for 62 yards and ran for 95 yards on 12 carries in football. He's running sprints in track.

Stevie Coury, Oregon State, track and field: Freshman receiver did not appear in a game during the football season, but is showing well in track. He finished sixth in the 60-meter dash at the Husky Classic on Saturday.

Walter Jones, Oregon State, track and field: Freshman receiver finished third in the long jump at the Husky Classic. He did not appear in a game during the football season.

Malcolm Marable, Oregon State, track and field: Cornerback set a personal record in the 60-meter dash (7.07) at the Husky Classic.

Obum Gwacham, Oregon State, track and field: Participated in the high jump at the first indoor meet of the season but has since stop competing in order to focus on his transition to defensive end from receiver.

Ryan Cope, Oregon State, track and field: Cope is expected to run hurdles during the outdoor track season.

Hunter Jarmon, Oregon State, baseball: True freshman receiver redshirted during the football season. He's listed as an outfielder for the baseball team and has made two appearances without a hit.

Zach Hoffpauir, Stanford, baseball: A safety in football, Hoffpauir has started all four games for the Stanford baseball team in right field. He's 4-for-18 with a pair of homers.

John Fullington, Washington State, track and field: Fullington started 43 consecutive games on the offensive line for the WSU football team. He will throw the shot put during the spring.

The list has a chance to grow as several football players have yet to decide whether they will run track during the outdoor season.
Michiah QuickTom Hauck for ESPN.comMichiah Quick is the latest top prospect from Fresno (Calif.) Central East, a school that has a connection to Oregon.

The Class of 2014 has a loaded group of wide receivers in the West, and the Oregon Ducks find themselves among the leaders for several of them.

The Ducks have issued few official offers in the region, and it will likely remain that way until the coaching staff hits the road for spring evaluations in May.
With the 19 players signed last week, Oregon landed some players who might remind their fans of former Ducks.


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Devon AllenMiller Safrit/ESPN.comDoes securing a pledge from Devon Allen mean Oregon expects to lose Darren Carrington?
The last DuckNation recruiting mailbag before national signing day has received a record number of submissions. With so much action recently surrounding the Oregon football program, there are a lot of topics to cover.

Warren S. (Henderson, Nev.): With the Ducks landing Devon Allen (Phoenix/Brophy Prep), do you think that has more to do with their feelings on what [Darren] Carrington (San Diego/Horizon) will do or how they feel about Allen?


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Recruiting battles loom for Helfrich, Ducks 

January, 31, 2013
1/31/13
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Mark Helfrich is off to a solid start in his first two weeks as head coach of the Oregon Ducks. Helfrich was able to retain the majority of his staff and to date has been able to gain three new commitments from 2013 recruits.

Under Helfrich, Oregon has added WR Devon Allen (Phoenix/Brophy Prep), OL Elijah George (Las Vegas/Arbor View), ATH Juwaan Williams (Tucker, Ga./Tucker) and QB Damion Hobbs (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill), who flipped from Utah State to Oregon on Wednesday.

The Ducks are likely to take up to five more commits, depending on the decisions of ATH Dontre Wilson (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto), Darren Carrington (San Diego/Horizon), WR Tyree Robinson (San Diego/Lincoln) and his twin brother, ATH Tyrell Robinson (San Diego/Lincoln).

There has been a lot of action over the past few days. New offers have been issued and last minute in-home visits are taking place daily.


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Thomas TynerCourtesy of Tiffany FiekenThomas Tyner is set to sign with Oregon despite late pushes from other schools.


Recruits, their families, coaches and football programs from around the country are holding their breath in hopes the right decision is made on national signing day. The truth is, no one knows what will happen between now and the time the pen hits the paper at high schools nationwide next Wednesday. What we do know is that both publicly and privately, the biggest decisions of recruits' lives are about to be made official.

For the Oregon Ducks, it appears as if their current commits are locked into the decisions they already have made. Now, the Ducks hope that their latest recruiting efforts provide a boost to an already strong class.

Here is where things stand for the Ducks and what their class might look like by the end of the day on Feb. 6.


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