Oregon Ducks

Oregon Ducks

Oregon's quest to improve greatly over last season's 4-8 record will depend on the rapid development of several young and/or previously little-used players. Here is a look at ten most likely to rise to the occasion in 2017.

No. 4: Freshman quarterback Braxton Burmeister.

Burmeister hadn't been scheduled to make this list before redshirt sophomore quarterback Travis Jonsen elected to transfer last week. In the blink of an eye, Brumeister went from a likely redshirt to No. 2 on the depth chart behind sophomore starter Justin Herbert. 

The backup quarterback typically receives zero attention during the season from fans and the media unless the starting quarterback goes down (or is benched). So, there is a strong chance that Burmeister will be largely out of sight and out of mind all season long. 

On the other hand, strange things happen within the sport of football making it a strong possibility that at some point Burmeister's services could be needed. 

Oregon had to rely on a backup quarterback because of injury in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2015. Marcus Mariota made every start from 2012 through 2014 but did experience a knee injury in 2013. 

Jonsen, according to coach Willie Taggart, had earned his confidence as a starting-caliber quarterback who at the very least could push Herbert for the starting job. With Jonsen competing with Herbert, the feeling at Oregon was that the top of the depth chart was loaded. Now, there will be some uncertainty about the backup spot entering fall camp.


Burmeister, a four-star recruit, looked like an inexperienced true freshman during the spring game, but he did display a strong arm to go along with excellent quickness and speed as a runner. How he develops over the summer and during fall camp will shape the level of confidence the coaching staff has in him as someone who could run the offense if needed. 

The Ducks certainly have many areas in need of new faces to deliver, and Burmeister could go the entire season without taking a meaningful snap. But because of the importance of the quarterback position, and that there is probably a 50/50 chance Herbert goes down for at least a series, a quarter, maybe a game, or two, Burmeister just became one of the most important young players on the team. 

The working list

No. 1: Cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. 

No. 2: Wide receiver Dillon Mitchell.

No. 3: Nose tackle Jordon Scott

No. 4: Freshman quarterback Braxton Burmeister

No. 5: Sophomore tight end Jacob Breeland

No. 6: Sophomore linebacker La'Mar Winston.

No. 7: Redshirt sophomore nose tackle Gary Baker. 

No. 8: Wide receivers Ofodile, Lovette and McNeal.

No. 9: Safeties Brady Breeze and Billy Gibson

No. 10: Several freshman must deliver