Oregon’s 2020 recruiting class will start having an impact on the field right away.

Mario Cristobal said five-star prospects Justin Flowe (linebacker), Noah Sewell (linebacker) and Dontae Manning (cornerback) have a chance to live up to their billing like defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux did last season, albeit without the benefit of a full spring practice and offseason due to the pandemic.

With so many key players from last year's Pac-12 championship team graduating or opting out, the Ducks will also lean on transfers to help reload.

“If you’re going to try to bring a guy that’s a grad transfer or a junior college player into your program, you’re doing it because they already are physically mature and you certainly want to target guys that are mentally mature,” Cristobal said Wednesday after Oregon’s fifth fall camp practice. “(Players) that, from a cultural standpoint, they understand that they are joining a new family. They have to adapt, they have to come full throttle to make it work.”

T.J. Bass, who transferred from Butte College, reminds the coaching staff of a more versatile Shane Lemieux.

The 6-foot-5, 318-pound junior has been competing at both tackle positions and was the top-ranked junior college guard prospect. Cristobal said Bass could also play center, if needed.

“T.J. Bass is going to be an outstanding football player,” Cristobal said. “He is powerful, he’s massive, he’s smart, tough, diligent, all those things. I’ve been extremely impressed with him.”

Boise State graduate transfer Jordan Happle and former Illinois safety Bennett Williams give Oregon’s secondary some experience to help replace some of the leadership lost with Jevon Holland, Brady Breeze and Thomas Graham leaving early for the NFL draft.

Happle played for defensive coordinator Andy Avalos with the Broncos, which has been evident during their reunion with the Ducks.

“My man Happle, he kind of knows the defense a little bit, very comfortable with the calls,” Cristobal said. “I think that besides experience and knowledge of the scheme, he’s another guy that’s made of the right stuff.”

Bennett, who is only a junior, was named a freshman all-American by ESPN in 2017 after finishing with 64 tackles for Illinois. He spent the last two years enrolled at the College of San Mateo and was a consensus top-30 junior college prospect.

“I guess he had a lot of accolades when he was a freshman when he was out playing in the Big Ten a little while back,” Cristobal noted. “He flashes what we think is going to be one heck of a football player.”

Boston College graduate transfer Anthony Brown is competing with Tyler Shough for the starting quarterback position. He had 1,250 yards passing with nine touchdowns and two interceptions for the Eagles before suffering a knee injury midway through last season.

“To be where he’s at from a schematic, knowledge standpoint and function the way he does, it’s a testament to his upbringing and his DNA,” Cristobal said of Brown’s early grasp of offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead’s system. “He’s been excellent.”

Randazzo opts out

Chris Randazzo, a sophomore offensive lineman from Chino, California, has decided not to play for the Ducks this season due to coronavirus concerns.

The NCAA has ruled that any player can opt out of the 2020 season without losing their scholarship or the year of eligibility.

Cristobal said the 6-7, 359-pound Randazzo is still taking classes at UO and will rejoin the team in the spring.

Scrimmage on Saturday

The Ducks will intensify the physicality with a full-pad, full-contact practice Friday ahead of their first scrimmage of camp Saturday.

Shough and Brown, the two quarterbacks Cristobal said have separated from the rest of the young pack, are vying to replace Justin Herbert.

The young offensive linemen will have a chance to make a statement against the veteran defensive line.

Moorhead and Avalos will be calling plays from the press box level at Autzen Stadium as if it were a real game.

“The defense is ahead but there is enough back and forth that lends you to believe that we have a good football team,” Cristobal said of the competition so far. “If it was an absolute just butt whoopin’ every single day, that’s when you’re staying up at night because you’re either phenomenal on one side or really poor on the other. The defense is definitely ahead, there’s more maturity there, but there’s some really good play on the offensive side as it’s gelling.

“You have a couple quarterbacks that have command of it in the short time they’ve been here. That makes a huge difference.”

Copyright 2020 Tribune Content Agency.

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