Ducks football 2022 spring preview: Tight end game may change under Kenny Dillingham

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Last week, The Register-Guard began its Oregon Ducks football spring previews leading up to the beginning of practices March 10.

We have already looked at the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers on the Ducks roster. Now it's time to examine the tight ends.

Oregon tight ends didn't have a lot of production last season.

Terrance Ferguson led all tight ends in catches as he only caught 17 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. But those numbers could change under new offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham.

Oregon's offense is expected to be much more uptempo than under previous coach Mario Cristobal. Dillingham said he hopes to run close to 80 plays per game.

"We want to get people touches," Dillingham said earlier this month. "We want to be explosive. "It’s a system built around our players to create the best matchups and we want to do that at a rapid pace. We want to snap the ball as many times as we can because we want to get those guys as many touches as possible."

Not only could Ferguson be a beneficiary of a new offense but so could a few others.

Here are the returning Duck tight ends who could significantly impact their offense.

Sophomore Terrance Ferguson

Oregon's Terrance Ferguson, left, celebrates his third quarter touchdown with Johnny Johnson III against Stony Brook.
Oregon's Terrance Ferguson, left, celebrates his third quarter touchdown with Johnny Johnson III against Stony Brook.

Ferguson and Moliki Matavao combined to start 10 of the team's 14 games last year. Because of the lack of production by the two in the previous offense, Ferguson could have a breakout 2022 season.

Dillingham's offense with either Bo Nix or Ty Thompson at quarterback will likely feature much more of a passing aspect.

Ferguson certainly has the potential to be a factor in the Ducks offense. He was a consensus four-star recruit and a top-two player from Colorado by Rivals (No. 1), the 247Sports composite (No. 1), ESPN (No. 2) and 247Sports (No. 2) in the 2021 recruiting class.

At 6-foot-6, Ferguson has put on around 15 to 20 pounds since coming to Oregon, which should help him in the long run.

Sophomore Moliki Matavao

Matavao recorded nine catches for 75 yards and a touchdown during his freshman season. Those numbers could go up in 2022.

At times, coach Mike Norvell and Dillingham ran two-tight end formations at Florida State. This is certainly something he could decide to bring with him to Oregon.

Matavao was a 2021 consensus four-star recruit and top-6 tight end nationally by ESPN (No. 4 TE), the 247 composite (No. 5), Rivals (No. 6) and 247Sports (No. 6). He was also a consensus top-300 player nationally by Rivals (No. 95), the 247Sports Composite (No. 149), 247Sports (No. 165) and ESPN (No. 293) as Matavao was rated as the top player from Nevada by 247Sports and Rivals.

Oregon tight end Moliki Matavao runs a drill with the Ducks during Fall Camp.
Oregon tight end Moliki Matavao runs a drill with the Ducks during Fall Camp.

Senior Cam McCormick

McCormick has had an injury-ridden career at Oregon. He has suffered season-ending injuries in three consecutive seasons. Last year against Ohio State in Week 2, McCormick suffered a season-ending leg injury on a 16-yard reception on third down.

After playing in all 13 games in 2017, McCormick entered 2018 as the starting tight end before suffering a season-ending broken leg against Bowling Green. He also missed the entire 2019 and 2020 seasons due to injury, as the NCAA later granted him a sixth and seventh year of eligibility.

This spring, having McCormick back into the fold will provide the Ducks with more tight end depth.

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Redshirt sophomore Patrick Herbert

Leading up to the 2021 season, Herbert suffered a knee injury during practice. He didn't record a catch last season as Herbert didn't play during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season due to injury.

Herbert did play during in 2019 briefly as he received playing time in a game against Nevada. Coming out of Sheldon High in Eugene, Herbert was a consensus four-star prospect by ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports.

He was also the 2019 No. 1 overall recruit in Oregon by 247Sports and the consensus top-ranked tight end in Oregon.

Junior Spencer Webb

The 6-foot-6, 234 pound Webb didn't play a lot during his time at Oregon until the 2021 season. He did appear in 11 games last season as he caught 13 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.

Webb appeared in just one game during the 2020 season, seeing action against USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

Webb was a consensus four-star, top 10 tight end and a top 300 prospect by ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports in the 2018 recruiting class. He was also ranked as the No. 1 tight end in California by ESPN and 247Sports.

Contact Register-Guard sportswriter Antwan Staley at astaley@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.

This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Football spring preview: Oregon tight end may have bigger role in 2022