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Is Vernon Adams already making an impact?

What is Vernon Adams? A savior or a distraction? Is he offseason hype that fades as the season opener against, fascinatingly enough, Eastern Washington draws near? Or is he the stop-gap to replace the departed Marcus Mariota the Ducks need to get back to the College Football Playoffs?

That was the question posed over the weekend by Register-Guard columnist Austin Meek, who asked exactly what the yet-to-enroll Adams means to the Ducks.

The talented FCS quarterback (see Oregon State in 2013 and Washington in 2014) put up dazzling numbers with Eastern Washington. But since announcing he’d head south as a graduate transfer, the belief was that he’d challenge incumbent backup Jeff Lockie for the spot vacated by Mariota.

Writes Meek: Right now, the Ducks are walking a dangerous line when it comes to Adams, the quarterback they plucked from the FCS ranks to compete for their starting job.

And when I say compete for their starting job, I really mean to be their starting quarterback. Because you don’t recruit Vernon Adams, don’t pull him away from a place where he’s comfortable and beloved, to make him a backup. You don’t take that risk unless you’re convinced he can do the job.

Oregon’s gamble on Adams might pay off in time. Right now, all the Ducks have is a graduate transfer who hasn’t graduated and distraction simmering in the background.

Meek’s points are well-taken. And he’s not wrong.

But here’s the flip side. A quarterback competition -- whether it’s replacing Marcus Mariota or Sean Mannion or Brett Hundley -- is going to be a distraction. Granted, more people nationally are interested to see who is going to replace the Heisman winner than the Pac-12’s all-time leading passer or the winner of three straight over USC. But the internal distractions are the same.

Players still will be asked about the quarterback spot. We know this because it’s exactly what happened when Mariota was battling Bryan Bennett to replace Darron Thomas. And when Josh Nunes and Brett Nottingham were trying to replace Andrew Luck.

The fact that Adams isn’t on campus yet -- and may not be -- is what makes this situation more peculiar than the others listed. But even if he were on campus, would the questions stop? Of course not. Quarterback would still be the leadoff, middle and closing question of every fall news conference Mark Helfrich and his players have with the media.

As if Jeff Lockie doesn’t have enough on his mind ... trying to be, you know, the guy who replaces Marcus Mariota. Whether Adams is in camp doesn’t change the amount of pressure and scrutiny he’s already under. When he and I spoke earlier this year, he made it clear he’s in no way the next coming of Mariota. Adams being on campus doesn't change his tune. He's still who he is. And whether that's a quarterback good enough to lead Oregon remains to be seen.

I think Meek makes a great point on the coaching staff wanting Adams to be in the mix. But they also know his last game was a loss to Illinois State, and his second game as a Duck could be at Michigan State. With Lockie, there is a familiarity and a sense that he’s not going to be overwhelmed by the competition.

Give Meek’s column a read. It makes for good debate as fall camp draws near.