Every fall camp prior to the college football season, Ducks players take special notice of a freshman or two and gush about them to the local media.
In 2018 it was Jevon Holland. In 2019 it was Mycah Pittman. In 2021, it was Daymon David.
But back in 2020, it was a 5-foot-11, 171-pound true freshman receiver from St. John Bosco: Kris Hutson.
"He's a beast," Jaylon Redd said in 2020. Mario Cristobal called him "a special guy." Joe Moorhead was impressed by his speed and explosiveness.
But as a true freshman during the COVID-19 shortened season, Hutson appeared in all seven games but hardly made an impact on the field catching four passes for 37 yards all season.
There were signs of that fall camp production though, with Tyler Shough throwing it up for a jump ball to Hutson deep downfield on numerous occasions. Clearly Hutson had balled out in practice and earned the trust of Shough to get those targets in the first place.
But entering the 2021 season, Hutson still had plenty of promise with four seasons of eligibility remaining, albeit within a crowded wide receiver room.
The vast depth of receivers led to lots of rotation across the X, Y, and Z receiver spots. The Ducks limited passing game additionally compounded minimal stats for Hutson.
However, following the win over Washington State, Hutson's path to clear playing time opened up with Redd suffering a season-ending injury and Pittman transferring out of the program.
Entering the team's largest conference game of the season, Hutson was the sole starter at Z on the team, and he made the most of the opportunity.
Hutson led the Ducks in receiving yards against Utah, catching four passes for 96 yards in the loss.
One week later, Hutson caught a team-high seven passes for 82 yards and his first career college touchdown, including numerous third-down conversions.
"Some big plays by Kris, on critical third downs, particularly that last one that put us up by three scores," Cristobal said after Saturday's win.
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The team has known that Hutson's been this good all along though.
"Kris is a guy who is super, super, super competitive and I like to talk noise to him in practice because when he gets on edge, Kris is one of the best receivers on this team," Verone McKinley III said Saturday.
Hutson, along with Devon Williams who has caught 34 passes for 540 yards and four touchdowns, has given Oregon a dynamic one-two receiving punch after the losses of Redd, Pittman and Johnny Johnson III, and it's been needed.
“Losing those three (Pittman, Redd and Johnson) is a big loss but we've got to have people step up," Hutson said.
Even better news for Oregon, Williams has two seasons of eligibility left with Hutson having three seasons remaining. The two players are producing for Oregon and they're expected to only up their production next season as presumed full-time starters.
But before looking ahead to the 2022 season, Oregon still has the Pac-12 Championship to play in this Friday in a rematch over Utah who ruined the Ducks playoff chances last weekend.
"We beat Oregon State and now we're seeing those boys again (Utah)," said Hutson.
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