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Oregon Spring Preview: Bo Nix Returns With Heisman Hype

Oregon returns a starting quarterback for the first time since Justin Herbert in 2019.
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When quarterback Bo Nix committed to the Oregon Ducks on December 21, 2021, it was a bit of a mixed reaction from Duck fans. 

The team was in need of a quarterback after losing prep quarterback Tanner Bailey in the 2022 recruiting class, and Dan Lanning and Kenny Dillingham had tabbed Nix as their guy. 

There were plenty of reasons to believe it was a good move: reuniting with Dillingham in Eugene, playing behind a veteran offensive line, and plenty of talent at the skill positions. But many chose instead to focus on the negative, particularly his inability to take care of the football despite three years as the starting quarterback. 

Nix went on to put all his doubters to rest with a stellar 2022 season, and he's back in Eugene, headlining the quarterback room as Oregon chases its first national championship in 2023.

Nix revitalized his college career in 2022 under Kenny Dillingham. He threw for 3,593 yards and 29 touchdowns against just seven interceptions, completing an Oregon single-season record 71.9% of his passes.

No. 10 was also deadly with his legs, rushing for 510 yards and 14 touchdowns to pace all quarterbacks nationally. He took a big step forward by not trying to do too much when going off script and not taking unnecessary hits when he tucked the ball to run.

The big question surrounding Nix is whether he can have the same success in 2023 with new offensive coordinator Will Stein. 

The offensive line added some big pieces from the transfer portal to minimize the departure of numerous veterans and there's no shortage of superstars for him to sling the ball to. Nix enters his final season with a legitimate shot at the Heisman Trophy if he can replicate the level of play we saw from him in 2022.

READ MORE: Oregon asst. QBs coach joining Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ty Thompson enters spring as the primary backup to Nix. After signing with the Ducks in 2021, he's seen limited game snaps, often being deployed in blowouts or near the end of games.

He's probably the most physically gifted quarterback Oregon has seen, and maybe he hasn't lived up to his five-star billing. But he hasn't exactly had the best circumstances, whether it's working with his third offensive coordinator or primarily playing with reserves.

In the transfer portal era of college football it's admirable that he's shown loyalty and bided his time, and 2023 will show if Thompson can take the next step and develop into a truly reliable backup. 

READ MORE: Oregon running backs still an embarrassment of riches

Austin Novosad is the newcomer of the scholarship arms on the roster. He put up impressive numbers playing against some of the best talent in the country in the Lone Star State.

While he isn't expected to see the field much as a true freshman, he'll at least be able to push Thompson for the backup spot and develop under Nix during his final season of college football. If all goes well the Ducks will enter spring football in 2024 confident that he can compete for the starting job with Nix having wrapped up his college football. 

Jay Butterfield returned home to the Bay Area by transferring to San Jose State, a loss that could sting if Nix is unavailable for any amount of time in 2023.

The team will also roster a trio of walk-on quarterbacks heading into the 2023 season in former Missouri State passer Jake van Dyne, 2022 prep quarterback Marcus Sanders and local Sheldon Standout Brock Thomas

Thomas could be an interesting name to watch after he put together an impressive high school career. 

There's not much depth behind Nix, but it feels like there's no limit to what this offense can do if he's healthy and effective both running and passing the ball. 

READ MORE: 2024 Florida OL Jason Zandamela on A'lique Terry, Oregon interest

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