Sophomore wide receier Kirk Merritt is transferring from Oregon, a source has confirmed.
Merritt's departure, first reported by 247sports, comes as a shock given the great expectations that surrounded the former four-star recruit out of Louisiana. But sources with knowledge of the situation say that Merritt was concerned with finding enough playing time in Oregon's deep group of receivers.
Merritt in a Tweet, however, referred to "family situations" as his reasons for leaving the Ducks. No word yet on where Merritt will land.
Merritt appeard to be a big part of Oregon's future after he played in 12 games last season as a true freshman, catching five passes for 61 yards while displaying elite level elusiveness. It was rather shocking that Merritt did not redshirt last fall given the team's depth at receiver. But his talent forced the coaching staff to use him on special teams and in spot duty at receiver.
With the departure of receivers Byron Marshall and Bralon Addison to the NFL, Merritt figured to see an expanded role in 2016 behind projected starters, redshirt junior Darren Carrington Jr., senior Dwayne Stanford and junior Charles Nelson. Oregon also returns redshirt junior Devon Allen, a former starter who could once again force his way into the starting lineup, and redshirt sophomore Jalen Brown.
Carrington is believed to be set to enter next year's NFL Draft. Stanford also will be gone. Logic then would dictate that Merritt likely could have been in line to start by 2017.
Clearly he didn't see it that way, or didn't want to wait that long.
It must be pointed out that Merritt last year expressed to CSNNW his desire to play running back, which he played in high school. That could have played into his decision to leave. There also is the emergence of freshman wide receiver recruit Dillon Mitchell, who had two touchdown receptions in the spring game.
Mitchell, along with redshirt freshman Alex Ofodile, also add to the crowded depth chart at wide receiver moving forward.
Merritt certainly would have played more this season than he will at any other FBS program given that transfer rules will force him to sit out a year. Or, he could transfer down a level and play right away. He does have the luxury of still possessing a redshirt year, which he could use at an FBS program this fall and then contend for a starting job in 2017.
It is also possible that a serious enough "family situation" could result in an appeal to the NCAA for Merritt to play in 2016 at an FBS program near his home. The NCAA can allow transfers to not have to sit out if they are transferring for hardship reasons in order to be close to home.
Merritt tweeted that he had to do what's best for his family. Oregon certainly could have used his talents, but clearly the Ducks have recruited well enough at the wide receiver position to not only cause his departure, but be able to absorb it as well.