As Dan Lanning and his staff continue to reshape the Oregon program ahead of their second season in Eugene, the Ducks’ spring game is just around the corner.
The April 29 scrimmage at Autzen Stadium in Eugene is set for a 1 p.m. PT kickoff and will feature plenty of new impactful additions. This spring, 31 newcomers have joined the program via the transfer portal and the 2023 signing class.
Throughout the week, the ScoopDuck staff will be identifying three spring game storylines to keep tabs on for each Oregon position group.
Next up, the offensive line.
Who will be Oregon’s next starting center?
With longtime starter Alex Forsyth headed for the NFL, Oregon has a pair of juniors competing to become its next starting center.
Marcus Harper and Jackson Powers-Johnson are each in the mix to start at either center or guard in 2023. Harper excelled as the Ducks’ starting left guard after Steven Jones went down with an injury early last season, and Powers-Johnson thrived as a reserve guard.
Both players have been splitting reps at multiple spots this spring, and both are going to be integral figures along the offensive front in 2023 — regardless of where they line up.
But Harper is currently dealing with an injury, and it’s unclear if he’ll be suited up for the spring game.
The Ducks’ offensive line is a bit of an unsolved puzzle at this point.
That is partially due to the sheer amount of impact newcomers who joined the program during the offseason, and partially due to the versatility of several players.
In all likelihood, Josh Conerly will start at left tackle and Ajani Cornelius will start at right tackle in 2023. But the hierarchy at the interior spots is much less clear.
As previously mentioned, Harper and Powers-Johnson could each potentially start at center or one of the guard spots. Texas transfer Junior Angilau, who has been a limited participant this spring due to injury, split time at left guard and right guard during his last fully-healthy season.
Steven Jones has started at left tackle, right tackle, and right guard throughout his Oregon career.
On Saturday, we should gain a bit more clarity as to where each of the Ducks’ rotation linemen fits into A’lique Terry’s plans.
The ’22 and ’23 signees
The Ducks currently feature eight scholarship offensive linemen from the 2022 and 2023 signing classes.
Conerly is the clear-cut favorite to start at left tackle and might be one of Oregon’s more impactful players next season. But the Ducks’ other seven freshmen and sophomore offensive linemen — Bryce Boulton, Dave Iuli, Iapani Laloulu, Lipe Moala, Kawika Rogers, Gernorris Wilson, and Michael Wooten — will have a more difficult path to consistent playing time.
Iuli and Rogers repped at left and right guard, respectively, with Oregon’s second-unit offense during the lone 11-on-11 period that reporters have been able to watch this spring. During that same period, Wooten repped at left tackle and Laloulu repped at left guard.
Wilson has been a limited participant all spring, and Boulton and Moala will not join the Ducks until the summer.
The handful of remaining spring practices will be pivotal for the Ducks’ underclassmen as they push for playing time in 2023.
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