When the dust settles from Oregon’s staff makeover and roster attrition this offseason, it’s still projected to still be among the country’s top 25 teams when the 2016 college football season begins.

Oregon is ranked No. 18 in ESPN’s “way too early” Top 25, which was released after Alabama defeated Clemson, 45-40, Monday night for its fourth national championship in the past seven seasons under coach Nick Saban.

Pac-12 North division and Rose Bowl champion Stanford is No. 8, while South Division champion USC is No. 15. Washington State is No. 20, UCLA No. 21 and Washington No. 25.

Way Too Early polls that looked forward to 2016 followed the release of the final poll of the 2015 season Monday evening by the Associated Press, in which UO finished No. 19.

Though replacing one-year transfer quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. is Oregon’s top priority — another graduate transfer, Dakota Prukop, is in line to win the job — there are other holes to fill on the roster, and that’s not including the vacancies on the coaching staff. Five offensive starters from the Alamo Bowl, including the entire left side of the offensive line, and five defensive starters must be replaced. UO finished the season 9-4, the first time since 2007 it didn’t finish with 10 victories.

Oregon is currently beginning winter conditioning, with spring practices beginning the first week of the spring academic quarter in late March. UO reportedly made a key addition to its coaching staff Monday with the hiring of David Yost as quarterbacks coach. Yost has spent the past two seasons mentoring Washington State’s inside receivers but was a quarterbacks coach the previous 17 at Toledo and Missouri.

In USA Today’s 2016 look-ahead, Oregon is No. 15, second-highest among Pac-12 schools behind Stanford, while FOX Sports placed UO at No. 22, behind Stanford and Washington.

In CBS’s own version of a Way Too Early Top 25, Oregon also is 18th, with Stanford the only Pac-12 team ahead of it, at No. 14.

Wrote CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd: “You don’t know FCS grad transfer Dakota Prukop, but you will. The Ducks’ new quarterback will have some of the nation’s best skill players around him. They just have to prove they can hold a 31-point halftime lead.”

— Andrew Greif
agreif@oregonian.com
@andrewgreif

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