Since coming to Eugene, Oregon Ducks head coach Dan Lanning has said that the goal when using the transfer portal was always to improve the roster in any way that they can. That means that if a player becomes available that they think can make them better, they will try to get him, regardless of whether or not it is a position of need for not.
On Wednesday morning, that opportunity arose with freshman Alabama safety Caleb Downs announcing that he would be entering the transfer portal. As a true freshman in 2023, Downs was an All-American safety, regarded as one of the best overall players in the nation at his position, regardless of age.
Downs finished his true freshman season with a team-leading 107 tackles to go along with 3.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions. Unsurprisingly, he is now the No. 1 rated player in the transfer portal.
So do the Oregon Ducks have a shot to get him?
That’s an interesting question. There is no doubt that Lanning and his staff will reach out, and I’m told that they already have made contact. The other two teams who are favored to land him, per a person with knowledge of the situation, are Georgia and Ohio State.
While the Ducks don’t currently have a massive need at the safety position after adding Kobe Savage earlier this offseason and getting a return commitment from Tysheem Johnson, Downs is a player who you don’t pass on if he is interested. The former 5-star recruit — Downs was ranked the No. 6 overall player in 2023 — didn’t have much connection with Oregon during his recruitment other than being offered by the Ducks, but based on what we’ve seen from Oregon when it comes to other transfer portal prospects, that isn’t a barrier for entry.
The Ducks currently have the No. 6 transfer portal team in the nation after landing top-ranked guys like Evan Stewart, Dante Moore, Ja’Maree Caldwell, and Dillon Gabriel. We will see how this recruitment develops for Downs, but it’s clear that Oregon is going to do what they can to land the elite defensive back.