ESPN names Dillon Gabriel Oregon’s most important newcomer

The Oregon Ducks are in the middle of one of the most successful offseasons in program history. They signed a top-three recruiting class — the highest in school history, added some key players in the transfer portal, and retained a sizable portion of their roster. Everything is shaping up for 2024 to be an electric season for the Ducks.

On Wednesday, Blake Baumgartner and Tom VanHaaren of ESPN listed the most important newcomers for each team in ESPN’s preseason Top 25. For Oregon, they chose the Ducks’ presumable starting quarterback in 2024, Dillon Gabriel.

After two years of being spoiled by the QB play of Bo Nix, Oregon fans will have to get used to a new face running the offense, but there isn’t a more suitable replacement for Nix than Gabriel. In five seasons of college football, Gabriel has racked up 15935 total yards and 152 total touchdowns, and he is an early candidate to win the Heisman Trophy in 2024.

Baumgartner pointed out that expectations for Gabriel will be high this season, but he also had high praise for the Oklahoma transfer.

“Gabriel takes over for Bo Nix as Oregon is making the transition from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten. Expectations for Gabriel, who threw for 3,660 yards (sixth in the FBS) and 30 touchdowns (eighth nationally), will be sky-high. Last season, the Ducks had the nation’s second-best offense in total yards (531.4 YPG) and the best passing offense (346.9 YPG). Gabriel is a very experienced quarterback, having spent time at both UCF and Oklahoma, and has thrown for 14,865 yards and 125 touchdowns in his five-year career. With one more season left to use, can Gabriel help the Ducks get some of the final inches that eluded them in two losses to Washington amid a 12-win campaign in 2023?”

Gabriel approaches the game in a much different way than Nix, so fans shouldn’t expect the Ducks offense to look the same as it did in 2022 and 2023. Gabriel doesn’t have the same arm strength as Bo, but he’s still willing to throw the deep ball. He is also a much more willing runner, and he has plenty of ability to extend plays and pick up first downs with his legs.

It’s not a surprise that Gabriel was picked as Oregon’s most important offseason addition. QB is the most important position for any football team, and Gabriel is one of the most talented QBs in college football. But there are several other new Ducks who could make an instant impact, such as Jabbar Muhammad and Evan Stewart. Muhammad will likely be the Ducks’ No. 1 cornerback and Stewart could be one of the Ducks’ top two receivers. Two impactful positions and two impactful players.

Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire