The Ducks wrapped up spring football with their annual spring game, a contest the offense won 35-34 over the defense.
Here are the players that stood out the most to me from Saturday's action at Autzen Stadium.
1. Troy Franklin
We saw a bit of Franklin in the first spring scrimmage, but he really announced his arrival on Saturday. He had a couple of explosive plays, capped off by his near-touchdown on a pass from Anthony Brown.
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He caught the pass and turned to run upfield and was pushed out of bounds just before he could find the end zone.
Franklin also had a really nice catch where he took a pretty big hit, always a good sign from a wide receiver. He recorded a catch with both Brown and Ty Thompson, displaying that he has good chemistry with multiple quarterbacks.
If you were to ask me who has the better chance to see early playing time, him or Dont'e Thornton, I'd have to go with Franklin.
2. Justin Flowe
Flowe finally got some extended reps after being limited for much of spring, including the first spring scrimmage.
He was all over the field Saturday, running with wide receivers like Devon Williams in coverage, stepping up to stop the run in a tackle of Aaron Smith, and also sacking Anthony Brown on third down to force a three and out.
Flowe looked a lot like the player that college programs were drooling over as a recruit, playing with intensity and slamming the turf after big plays to energize the defense. He played a significant number of snaps with the first-team defense, lining up alongside fellow 2020 5-star linebacker Noah Sewell.
Following the spring game Head Coach Mario Cristobal said that the coaches had been increasing Flowe's reps in the past six practices leading up to the spring game.
After having surgery to recover the biggest injury he's had to date, Flowe could very well be named a starter for Oregon's first game against Fresno State.
3. Dontae Manning
Another 5-star? You bet.
No particulars were provided, but Mykael Wright and DJ James were both unavailable for the spring game. As a result, the Ducks turned to their youth in Manning and early-enrollee freshman Jaylin Davies, who both saw significant reps with the one's and did not disappoint.
Manning showcased his top end speed flying all over the field. He had a big tackle from behind of Devon Williams, punching the ball out at the end.
He also snagged an interception when Mycah Pittman took a shot at the end zone on a reverse pass. The Ducks are looking for dependable depth at cornerback after Deommodore Lenoir was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers and Manning could easily develop into a go-to player.
4. Kris Hutson
This freshman wide receiver was someone we saw flash here and there last season but it appears he's taken a big step forward.
Hutson had multiple catches on the day and showed something Oregon has desperately needed from its pass catchers--the ability the make something happen after the catch.
The St. John Bosco product made multiple defenders miss throughout the course of the game and proved to be an electric option for whichever quarterback is taking snaps. He connected with Jay Butterfield for a touchdown, adjusting his route in the end zone as the quarterback evaded pressure in the pocket.
The potential for this year's wide receiver group is set to be the highest we've seen at Oregon in quite some time.
5. Aaron Smith
That's right. One of the newest faces on this Duck team had a great performance on Saturday.
With just two healthy scholarship running backs available in the spring in CJ Verdell and Travis Dye, it's going to be crucial for this team to develop some sort of depth behind them. Running back is a position that always gets banged up, and Smith could be called upon this year.
Smith ran hard all day and had a touchdown in the first half. The walk-on from San Jose, California, ran for multiple first downs and was utilized as a pass catcher out of the backfield, something we know Joe Moorhead loves to do in his offense.
Trey Benson is expected to be back in time for the season, but Aaron Smith can help this team right now by providing quality snaps at running back.
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