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2024 Quarterback Outlook: Ducks with several options going into Big Ten debut

The 2023 season is now behind us, and while there is still a bowl game to be played — The Fiesta Bowl vs. The Liberty Flames — Dan Lanning and the Oregon Ducks are working hard on the construction of their roster and hitting the transfer portal in attempts to formulate what this team will look like going into the 2024 season, the team’s first year in the Big Ten Conference. While they work on bringing new players in via the transfer portal, we want to look at the future breakdown of each position, detailing current players on the roster, incoming recruits, and potential targets on the market right now. We’re going to start at quarterback.


The past offseason was relatively calm for in Eugene, as Oregon Duck fans entered the 2023 season without a quarterback competition to worry about, knowing that incumbent starter Bo Nix was not only going to be the QB1 on the roster but was rightfully being touted as a Heisman Trophy candidate heading into the final year of Pac-12 play.

The same can’t be said about the upcoming 2024 offseason.

Bo Nix is headed off to the NFL where he is likely to be a first-round draft pick in April. Meanwhile, the Ducks will be looking to name a new starting quarterback as they get ready to enter Big Ten play for the first time. Fortunately for Dan Lanning and Will Stein, they have several options to choose from. Whether it be a current player on the roster like Ty Thompson or Austin Novosad, or a potential incoming portal addition like Dillon Gabriel or Dante Moore, fans should have confidence that no matter who starts for the Ducks in 2024, he won’t be a last-resort option; he will have earned the job.

Let’s look at the various candidates for the starting job, and provide an overview of the projected QB room in 2024 for the Oregon Ducks.

Already Rostered: Ty Thompson

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Update: Since this article was written, Ty Thompson has entered his name in the transfer portal.

Career Stats: 17 Games | 42-for-66, 456 yards, 6 TD, 4 INT

Years of Eligibility: 2 Years

2024 QB1 Likelihood: Medium

Analysis

Ty Thompson has been the QB in waiting at Oregon for three years now, sitting behind both Anthony Brown and Bo Nix since coming in as a true freshman in 2021 who was the highest-rated QB to ever sign with the Ducks. He will have an opportunity to win the starting job this offseason, but it won’t be easy. It’s been made clear that the Ducks are looking hard in the transfer portal to bring in an established QB with proven performance on the field to compete for the starting job, so Thompson will likely once again have an intense battle on his hands this spring.

Already Rostered: Austin Novosad

Career Stats: None

Years of Eligibility: 4 Years

2024 QB1 Likelihood: Low

Analysis

I say that Novosad’s likelihood of becoming the QB1 in 2024 is low not as a commentary on his abilities, but more because of the competition that is ahead of him. Ty Thompson has far more experience in the system, and any QB who the team brings in via the transfer portal will have more experience on the field. Novosad is a talented player with a bright future at this level, but I don’t expect to see much of the field in Eugene in 2024.

2024 Recruit: Luke Moga

Photo Courtesy of Luke Moga

Recruiting Ranking:  3-star (No. 495 in Nation // No. 33 QB)

Years of Eligibility: 4 Years

2024 QB1 Likelihood: Very Low

Analysis

It’s rare that you ever see a true freshman come in and start right away at a high-level D1 program with national championship aspirations. I don’t think that Luke Moga will be an exception. While the young QB certainly has a lot of talent and has shown a high upside, he feels more like a prospect that needs a year or two to grown under Will Stein and potentially be in the mix going into the 2025 or 2026 season.

Transfer Portal Target: Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel

Note: Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel officially committed to the Oregon Ducks on Saturday morning, so he likely comes to Eugene ready to take over the QB1 spot. 

Career Stats: 50 Games | 1050-for-1644, 14,865 yards, 125 TD, 26 INT

Years of Eligibility: 1 Year

2024 QB1 Likelihood: High

Analysis

All signs point towards Dillon Gabriel being the quarterback who lands at Oregon as the transfer portal continues to churn. He is as proven of a veteran as they come with almost 15,000 yards and 125 passing TDs in his career, and he’s looking for a spot to spend his final year of eligibility and compete for a championship. There’s a good chance that he enters the year as a strong Heisman candidate as well, should he end up in Eugene. A lot still needs to happen before Gabriel finds himself on the Oregon roster — the former Oklahoma QB is expected to visit the Ducks later this week with a decision coming shortly after — but if Gabriel is on the roster by the time spring ball begins, I think he is the heavy favorite to get the starting job.

Transfer Portal Target: UCLA QB Dante Moore

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Career Stats: 9 Games | 114-for-213, 1,610 yards, 11 TD, 9 INT

Years of Eligibility: 3 Years

2024 QB1 Likelihood: Medium

Analysis

Even if Dillon Gabriel ends up in Eugene this offseason, there’s a decent chance that Dante Moore tags along as well. The former UCLA QB — and former Oregon commit — has said that he values a place where he can be developed more than a place where he can instantly start, and the Ducks are on his short list of teams being considered. Moore will reportedly visit Oregon later this week as he narrows down his decision. If both Moore and Gabriel end up in Eugene together, I think that we can expect the sophomore to wait in the wings for a year. However, if Gabriel goes elsewhere and Moore comes alone, then his QB1 odds rise, with an incredibly entertaining position battle with Ty Thompson forthcoming.

Transfer Portal Target: Washington State QB Cameron Ward

Career Stats: (FBS) 25 Games | 642-for-982, 6,968 yards, 48 TD, 16 INT

Years of Eligibility: 1 Year

2024 QB1 Likelihood: (Potentially) High

Analysis

There was a lot of buzz about a week ago about the chances of Washington State quarterback Cam Ward coming to Eugene to be the starter in 2024. While those rumors have died down a bit with the Ducks reportedly looking elsewhere, I’m told that Ward is still on the table should Oregon want him. If Ward ends up being the transfer portal QB that the Ducks land, then his chances of being the starter in 2024 are very high. He is a dynamic passer with elite elusiveness and a high ceiling. At this point, I lean more toward Ward going elsewhere with the Ducks prioritizing Dillon Gabriel, but the WSU QB is still on the table for Lanning and Stein.

Transfer Portal Target: Oregon State QB D.J. Uiagalelei

Career Stats: 47 Games | 695-for-1176, 8,319 yards, 57 TD, 24 INT

Years of Eligibility: 1 Year

2024 QB1 Likelihood: (Potentially) Medium

Analysis

I know that former Oregon State QB D.J. Uiagalelei is not at the top of the board for the Ducks when it comes to transfer portal quarterbacks, but he has at least been considered. There are just other players that the team likes more at this point. Should the Ducks not be able to land someone like Dillon Gabriel or Cam Ward, though, I do think there is a world where DJU comes south from Oregon State and joins his younger brother, Matayo, in Eugene. Should that happen, DJU would have a really solid QB competition with Ty Thompson, where I think it’s anyone’s ballgame.

QB Room Overview

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Confidence in Future Success: High

There are a ton of options on the board for the Ducks going into 2024 when it comes to the QB position, and at this point, I don’t think fans have any reason to be skeptical about the future. Dan Lanning has proven to be a master of the transfer portal, and Will Stein has shown some real promise as both an offensive coordinator and a QB coach.

There are enough high-end options on the market right now for the Ducks to choose from, and Oregon also has a promising player already on the roster in Ty Thompson to push whoever comes in. Whether the QB1 in 2024 is Gabriel, Ward, Moore, or Thompson, I believe that Oregon fans should be feeling really good about where they stand going into their first season of Big Ten play.

Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire