Oregon linemen Tyler Johnstone and DeForest Buckner added to their college football accolades by recently being named first-team All-Pac-12 players by Athlon Sports, honors that were part of the magazine’s larger set of preseason predictions that don’t like the Ducks to repeat their conference title and ranked their head coach middle-of-the-pack among his Pac-12 peers.

Johnstone, a senior left tackle returning after sitting out the 2014 season with knee injuries, and Buckner, a senior defensive lineman who turned down the NFL draft before undergoing offseason knee surgery, joined Charles Nelson on the first team. Previously this month, Johnstone and Buckner were named first-team preseason All-Americans by analyst Phil Steele.

Nelson was listed as a special teams contributor by Athlon.

Oregon’s honors extended to Athlon’s second-, third- and fourth-teams.

Running back Royce Freeman, receiver Byron Marshall and safety Reggie Daniels earned second-team honors; Nelson — as an offensive player, though he spent spring largely at defensive back — linebacker Tyson Coleman and tackle Tyrell Crosby made the third team; and running back Thomas Tyner, linebacker Christian French and incoming transfer quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. were fourth-team selections.

Adams Jr., who is expected to graduate this week from Eastern Washington and arrive in Eugene on Sunday, hasn’t played a down in his career for a Football Bowl Subdivision team, yet he has torched three such squads as a three-year starter for the Eagles. Against Washington, Oregon State and Toledo, he accounted for a total of 16 touchdowns. That led Athlon to rank Adams Jr. the Pac-12’s fourth-best QB already. Time will tell whether Jeff Lockie, who left spring practices being called by UO coaches the obvious best option already in Eugene, will have something to say about that. 

Athlon didn’t predict an Oregon title, however. The magazine wrote that USC will beat Oregon in the conference title game. It also ranked UO’s Mark Helfrich (24-4 career record) as the country’s 34th-best coach, behind six other Pac-12 peers, including new Oregon State coach Gary Andersen.

— Andrew Greif

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