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Oregon Football: 5 Newcomers to Watch for the Ducks

Oregon Football: 5 Newcomers to Watch for the Ducks

Oregon Football: 5 Newcomers to Watch for the Ducks

The Oregon Ducks' return to the top of the Pac-12 and a run through the Rose Bowl is meant to only be a beginning, according to young Ducks like Kayvon Thibodeaux and CJ Verdell.

With an outstanding group of seniors on their way out of Eugene, however, some new contributors will have to step up in 2020 to keep the positive momentum rolling. Fortunately for the Ducks, head coach Mario Cristobal and his staff have recruited particularly well.

What's more, freshmen have had opportunities to make immediate impacts for Oregon's return to prominence. Thibodeaux in 2019 and Verdell in '18 are two such examples, with others like Penei Sewell who are now veteran leaders having started their careers as first-year contributors.

An excellent 2020 signing class, ranked No. 1 in the Pac-12, features the next generation of potential instant impact Ducks on both sides of the ball.

Noah Sewell, LB

Sewell, a five-star linebacker prospect, joins his older brother and All-America offensive tackle Penei in 2020. Sewell is an early enrollee, so he will have the opportunity to jump right into the mix and impress for a linebacker corps in need of some new playmakers.

Sewell could compete right away to fill the void left by outgoing Troy Dye, who himself won the job at inside linebacker as a freshman in 2016.

Justin Flowe, LB

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Another five-star prospect at linebacker, Flowe spurned both USC and Clemson to sign at Oregon. 247Sports ranked Flowe near the top of all 2020 recruits. This talented playmaker should be able to play his way into the lineup as soon as he arrives in Eugene.

Kris Hutson, WR

Hutson represents the prominent Southern California pipeline Mario Cristobal and his staff have established. This high-four-star prospect signed with the Ducks out of CIF Southern Section power St. John Bosco.

Hutson joins a wide receiving corps that was productive in 2019. Leaders Johnny Johnson III and Jaylon Redd return, and Hutson has the potential to mesh nicely with the veteran duo.

Dontae Manning, CB

Manning boasts one of the highest individual ratings of any Ducks signee, and there's a compelling case that he is the top prospect to watch. Oregon is loaded with returners in the secondary, however, including Thomas Graham Jr. and late-season hero Brady Breeze.

Manning will not be needed to step into an immediately pressing need — but having the option to integrate a five-star talent with good size at corner is a welcome addition for Andy Avalos' defense.

Jaden Navarrette, ATH

From Marcus Mariota to Justin Herbert, Oregon quarterbacks have long loved to target big, physical pass-catchers. Last season, tight end Jacob Breeland manned that role until a midseason injury. There to pick up the slack was Penn State transfer wide receiver Juwan Johnson, who came through with huge plays against Washington State, USC, and Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl Game.

With Johnson on his way out, Navarrette could be the next big Duck up. Navarrette is yet another SoCal signee, coming from Norco in the CIF Southern Section. A standout at both wide receiver and as a pass-rusher, Navarrette switched his commitment from LSU to Oregon, scoring a major coup for the Ducks.

— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.