Ducks Wire 2023 Awards: Which players impressed us the most?

While we are past the major awards season in the world of college football, with trophies such as the Heisman, the Biletnikoff, and the Joe Moore Award being given out, the end of the season has officially brought forth a time for us to take stock of the year as a whole and properly examine everything in totality.

As we’ve done for the past several years, it’s time to give out the Ducks Wire awards for the year.

We went through this earlier in the year and handed out some mid-season awards, highlighting the offensive and defensive MVPs, the most improved players on the team, and a handful of other things that deserved some precious hardware. Now that the season is over, though, it’s time to immortalize some players with the honors officially.

To help me do so, Ducks Wire’s Don Smalley and Miles Dwyer join to cast their votes on some of the biggest awards. Here are our official decisions for the end-of-year trophies:

Offensive MVP

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


Zachary Neel (@ZacharyCNeel): WR Troy Franklin

I’m giving my vote to Troy Franklin because I felt safe knowing that Bo Nix would get the other two votes and still win the award. Franklin had the best season we’ve ever seen from an Oregon WR, and will likely go down in history as the best WR to ever play for the Ducks. That needs recognition here.

Don Smalley (@Donald_Smalley): QB Bo Nix

Bo Nix is the obvious choice. Heisman finalist and the best Oregon QB since Mariota.

Miles Dwyer (@Dwyer_Miles15): QB Bo Nix

It couldn’t be anyone else. Bo Nix’s 2023 season is probably the second-best individual season ever by an Oregon Duck, and he solidified his legacy as one of the great Oregon quarterbacks.

Award Winner: Bo Nix

Obviously, Nix is the right answer here. As a Heisman finalist, I think you are pretty much locked up as your team’s MVP.

Mid-Season Award Winner: Bo Nix

Defensive MVP

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


Zachary Neel (@ZacharyCNeel): DL Brandon Dorlus

His stats won’t give him the recognition that he deserves, but Dorlus was an All-Conference defensive lineman and one of the best players on this defense. He will sorely be missed.

Don Smalley (@Donald_Smalley): LB Jeffrey Bassa

Jeffrey Bassa quietly had a great season. The defense is going to be great next season with him back for 2024.

Miles Dwyer (@Dwyer_Miles15): S Evan Williams

Evan Williams certainly had his low points this season, but looking at the big picture Williams had a spectacular season. Williams led the defense in total tackles and total turnovers, and was a leader in the secondary.

Award Winner: LB Jeffrey Bassa

My second-place vote would have been for Bassa, so with a split decision, I think that it’s right the MVP award goes to him. He had a great season for the Ducks, and will be back for one more ride in 2024.

Mid-Season Award Winner: CB Khyree Jackson

Offensive Most Improved

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Zachary Neel (@ZacharyCNeel): C Jackson Powers-Johnson

To come in as a first-year starter and win the first ever Rimington Trophy, not only in Oregon history, but in Pac-12 history? I’d say that is deserving of my vote. It’s weird to say that JPJ is most-improved because it’s not like he was bad before this year, but we truly didn’t know how good he was.

Don Smalley (@Donald_Smalley): RB Jordan James

Jordan James. He really stepped up when Noah Whittington went down and he should be one of the better tailbacks in the Big Te next season.

Miles Dwyer (@Dwyer_Miles15): WR Tez Johnson

Although he wasn’t a Duck before this season, the most improved award has to go to Tez Johnson. A season after transferring from Troy, Johnson posted one of the best seasons by an Oregon receiver ever, and he wasn’t even the best receiver on the team.

Award Winner: Jackson Powers-Johnson

It’s a split decision, so I will go ahead and take the liberty as the site editor to make my vote the deciding vote and give JPJ the ultimate award. In the end, I don’t think anyone has a problem with that.

Mid-Season Award Winner: RB Jordan James

Defensive Most Improved

(AP Photo/Andy Nelson)


Zachary Neel (@ZacharyCNeel): CB Jahlil Florence

Florence went from being a rotational contributor a year ago to being one of the best players on the defense, and a starter whose absence was severely felt when he wasn’t on the field.

Don Smalley (@Donald_Smalley): CB Dontae Manning

His development into a shutdown corner has been nice to see. I’m glad he didn’t go in the portal. He should be CB1 next season.

Miles Dwyer (@Dwyer_Miles15): LB Jeffrey Bassa

Jeffrey Bassa struggled initially after switching positions from safety to inside linebacker, but in 2023 he thrived. Bassa was a sure-tackler and good in coverage, but he was also the most vocal leader of the Ducks’ defense, and they wouldn’t have been as successful without him.

Award Winner: Jahlil Florence

Had Jeffrey Bassa not won the Defensive MVP, I think he would deserve this award, but Florence’s rise to starting-caliber seals it, in my opinion.

Mid-Season Award Winner: Bryce Boettcher

Best Position Group

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)


Zachary Neel (@ZacharyCNeel): Wide Receiver

This was arguably the best WR group that we’ve ever seen at Oregon, with both Troy Franklin and Tez Johnson setting multiple records throughout the year. What’s scary is to think that they might be even better next year…

Don Smalley (@Donald_Smalley): Wide Receiver

The receivers/tight ends with Troy Franklin, Tez Johnson, Terrance Ferguson and others. Nix couldn’t have done what he did without those guys.

Miles Dwyer (@Dwyer_Miles15): Offensive Line

Offensive Line play was Oregon’s biggest question mark headed into the season, but the O-line ended up being the Ducks biggest strength. Led by center Jackson Powers-Johnson, the Oregon O-line was at fault for just one sack this season according to PFF, and they became a finalist for the Joe Moore Award.

Award Winner: Wide Receivers

While the offensive line deserves a lot of recognition, I don’t know that there has ever been a better group of WRs to play in Eugene.

Mid-Season Award Winner: Defensive Secondary

Best Win

Christopher Creveling-USA TODAY Sports


Zachary Neel (@ZacharyCNeel): 35-6 vs. Utah

Utah hadn’t lost at home in some crazy amount of time, and Oregon had yet to beat anyone who was anyone yet in the season. The Ducks went in there and dismantled them on their home turf, completely taking the crowd out of the game.

Don Smalley (@Donald_Smalley): 31-7 vs. Oregon State

The Beavers were really good before the defections and the Ducks dominated them.

Miles Dwyer (@Dwyer_Miles15): 35-6 vs. Utah

Two weeks after the heartbreaking loss to Washington, Oregon found themselves in a must-win situation on the road, in a stadium where the road team never wins. After a week of hype about how the Utah Utes don’t lose at home, the Ducks crushed the Utes in a game that was close for about five minutes.

Award Winner: 35-6 vs. Utah

Worst Loss

(Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images)


Zachary Neel (@ZacharyCNeel): 34-31 vs. Washington (Las Vegas)

For me, it’s got to be the Pac-12 Championship Game against Washington. The entire season was on the line for the Ducks — a spot in the College Football Playoff, a Heisman Trophy for Bo Nix, and a win in the last-ever Pac-12 game. They couldn’t get it done, in a frustrating fashion. That one is going to hurt fora while.

Don Smalley (@Donald_Smalley): 34-31 vs. Washington (Las Vegas)

The Ducks didn’t play up to their abilities for some reason and still lost by just a field goal. I guess you could say the game in Seattle with all of the mistakes, but that was a true road game.

Miles Dwyer (@Dwyer_Miles15): 36-33 vs. Washington (Seattle)

While the Ducks rematch against Washington had much more at stake, the regular season matchup in October hurt more. Perhaps it was because the Ducks had so many chances to win. Evan Williams’ almost interception, Camden Lewis’ field goal attempt, or any of the three 4th down plays.

Award Winner: 34-31 vs. Washington

Most Pleasant Surprise

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


Zachary Neel (@ZacharyCNeel): QB Dante Moore

This feels like cheating since it happened after the season, technically, but I think the fact that QB Dante Moore was willing to transfer from UCLA and says he will sit for a year behind Dillon Gabriel is about as perfect of a situation as you can ask for, and it still seems too good to be true.

Don Smalley (@Donald_Smalley): WR Tez Johnson

He was almost a non-factor in the first few games, but he came to play in the second half of the season.

Miles Dwyer (@Dwyer_Miles15): RB Jordan James

Last year, all we really saw from Jordan James was his greatness on the goalline, but after Noah Whittington went down early this season, we saw James become a premier back. I’m very excited for him to lead the Ducks rushing attack in 2024.

Award Winner: WR Tez Johnson

In another split decision, I am going to go ahead and throw my second-place vote to Tez Johnson and give it to him. In a year where we saw arguably the best WR in Oregon history with Troy Franklin, Johnson came behind him and actually broke his single-season catch record, and delivered on the very high upside that he brought to Eugene.

Mid-Season Award Winner: The New Guys

Most Frustrating Player

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports


Zachary Neel (@ZacharyCNeel): K Camden Lewis

If you know me, then you know how much I like Camden Lewis. He was still supremely frustrating this year because he was so good at times, but couldn’t get it done in the biggest moments.

Don Smalley (@Donald_Smalley): K Camden Lewis

He’s too good to be that inconsistent.

Miles Dwyer (@Dwyer_Miles15): K Camden Lewis

Oh Camden. Camden Lewis’ legacy at Oregon should be a positive one, but it will be hard not to earmark it with his struggles in 2023.

Award Winner: K Camden Lewis

Best Uniform Combination

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Zachary Neel (@ZacharyCNeel): Throwbacks vs. WSU/Liberty

Come on. They’re the best uniforms that Oregon has ever worn. Next question.

Don Smalley (@Donald_Smalley): Throwbacks vs. WSU/Liberty

I was actually around when they wore those every week. I think they should break out the road version next season.

Miles Dwyer (@Dwyer_Miles15): Nightmare Green vs. California

It’s hard to not say the Mighty Oregon throwback uniforms, but there was something about the greenish-black uniforms the Ducks wore against Cal which made the gameday atmosphere so memorable.

Award Winner: Throwbacks

Mid-Season Award Winner: Silver Wings vs. Texas Tech

Favorite Cinematic Recap

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Zachary Neel (@ZacharyCNeel): Week 9 vs. Utah

While the Colorado cinematic recap was great, I thought the introduction of the coaches’ audio from sideline headsets in the Utah recap was absolutely incredible, and offered a new depth to the videos that we hadn’t yet had.

Don Smalley (@Donald_Smalley): Week 4 vs. Colorado

They trolled the Buffaloes for eight straight minutes.

Miles Dwyer (@Dwyer_Miles15): Week 4 vs. Colorado

The Colorado cinematic recap has everything that made the cinematic recaps so great. Field-level shots of the game, and impassioned Dan Lanning in the pre-game speech, and of course, Shilo Sanders talking way too much trash.

Award Winner: Week 4 vs. Colorado


Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire