Heading into fall camp, a lot of eyes were on the quarterback, and that's only natural. However, another position that has generated a lot of buzz is wide receiver, as Bryan McClendon has a room flooded with talent.
But he's keeping his head down and working, and not letting high outside expectations and praise distract him from reality.
"I say this all the time, I say this in our room--talent doesn't mean production," McClendon told reporters Thursday. "I would much rather you say hey man you got a really, really productive room over hey man you got a really really talented room."
After signing three high school All-Americans in Troy Franklin, Dont'e Thornton and Isaiah Brevard, the wide receivers are working to earn their keep at Oregon. One might say we're seeing the "stars don't matter" approach being taken with their transition to the college level.
"All the recruiting accolades and everything else, they kind of fall by the wayside on the way in," McClendon said of handling the combination of veterans and a heralded group of freshmen. "Those guys have to come out here and they gotta put together plays and put together downs that show they can go out there and produce and help us win out there on Saturdays. "
Franklin has been running with the ones for much of camp, and his capacity to learn, coupled with adjusting to the heightened level of competition, may prove to be just as valuable as his playmaking.
"Troy does a good job of knowing what to do. He's extremely, extremely smart," McClendon said of the freshmen wideout. "Guy that's come in and picked it up really really well and does a good job of applying all the techniques and making them apply in game application. Obviously he's still got some room to go."
With game one just over a week away, a lot of the focus is on developing a depth chart. In order for a player to see their name climb that list, they first have to put it together on McClendon's production chart, which includes a variety of trackable items like critical errors, drops, catches and technique grade.
That's just one tool he's using to determine who's going to see the field.
"The most productive guys are gonna be the ones that are getting in there and play the most."
All throughout fall camp McClendon has reaffirmed the importance of competition, whether it be from the young players or the established veterans: you have to prove you have what it takes and show it in practice.
"It's really up to them on what they get--you get what you earn," he said. "And I tell them at the end of the day this isn't the YMCA, everybody doesn't play. The guys that give us the best chance to win are the guys that are gonna get in the game."
From a numbers standpoint, he's hoping to have seven to nine players that can rotate in throughout any given game.
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"You would like to at least have a two and a half deep," McClendon said of his approach. "So where guys you can constantly rotate guys at all three, maybe even four of those receiver positions, and not have to kind of pull from one position to give you depth at another position."
McClendon also highlighted Mycah Pittman as someone who perhaps has additional value. Pittman returns for his third season with lots of experience and the ability to move around and play multiple positions, which will help him stay on the field.
Based on what we're hearing from fall camp, the depth chart is beginning to take shape in Eugene.
"We want to establish a depth chart and be able to go out there and be able to put guys in where there's no drop off and we feel comfortable doing that right now."
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