“Building a Juggernaut” Part Two: The Oregon Brand and Skill Position Recruiting

Part 1 of this series by Chris Charbonnier is available here:
http://fishduck.com/2012/05/building-a-juggarnaut-part-one-the-dontre-wilson-commitment/

 

Dontre Wilson declaring himself a Duck during an all-star game Friday

For those who’ve been following Oregon recruiting lately, it’s no surprise that the Ducks have already landed commitments from running backs Thomas Tyner and Dontre Wilson. Over the past two years, Oregon’s recruiting classes have been filled with blue-chip players across the offensive skill positions.  The Ducks are garnering more attention from elite high-school players than ever before, and the Oregon brand is the reason why. The uniforms, the winning, the fast-paced offense and the high-point totals all support the notion that Oregon has differentiated itself with speed. Raw, untouchable speed.

SEC players are fast? Well Oregon players are crazy-fast. Your team put up 50? Oregon averages 50. Your team has a running back who runs a legit 4.4? DeAnthony Thomas runs a 4.4 doing the grapevine. That’s the Oregon brand.

Thomas Tyner is a premier blue-chip talent joining the Ducks next year

While the ducks have certainly fielded fast, explosive playmakers over the last few years, they’ve been far from the fastest or most explosive. The fact is, Oregon has had a roster full of offensive skill players with measurables and abilities not unlike any Top-25 team. The difference is the Oregon brand. The majority of the public began to believe that Oregon had this unique quality about them, an unmatched ability to play and actually BE faster than everyone else. Any thought that this wasn’t true died with three consecutive conference championships and BCS bowl games, including a national championship game appearance and a Rose Bowl win; not to mention the elite ability of LaMichael James, who became the face of the program.

For Duck fans, the great thing about the Oregon brand is that it’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. When the majority begins to believe something, whether true or not, it’s almost impossible to reverse that belief. This can be seen in politics, in social issues and most relevantly, in sports (see: James, Lebron). So maybe it isn’t a coincidence that all of a sudden, many more elite high school football players are showing interest in Oregon than ever before.

The result extraordinarily fast, explosive, agile athletes saying, “that Oregon offense is bananas; my skills were made to be shown off in those flashy uniforms.” And voila. Some will argue that Oregon’s recruiting has improved simply because they’re winning and scoring points, and while I agree that those things helped build the brand, it’s the brand itself that sells the program to blue-chip recruits.

During the last two recruiting cycles, the Oregon brand has proven invaluable. Below is a look at the offensive skill position players who signed a letter of intent in 2011 or 2012, accompanied by their Rivals star-rating.


Oregon

QB

RB

WR

TE

4* Jake Rodrigues5* DeAnthony Thomas4* Devon Blackmon5* Colt Lyerla
3* Marcus Mariota3* Tra Carson4* Tacoi Sumler4* Christian French
3* Jeff Lockie4* Byron Marshall4* Bralon Addison4* Pharaoh Brown
  4* Dwayne Stanford4* Evan Baylis
  3* BJ Kelley 
  3* Chance Allen 

 

Notice that I chose not to include JUCO transfers, since their set of criteria for picking a school is often vastly different than a prep player’s might be. I also wanted to use this as more of a look towards the future, whereas JUCO players are usually gone within a couple of years.

The impressive table above is even more eye opening when comparing it to those of the nation’s recruiting elite. Take a look at the offensive skill players signed by college football’s ten powerhouse programs during the past two years.


Alabama

QB

RB

WR

TE

3* Phillip Ely5* Demetrius Hart4* Marvin Shinn4* Malcolm Faciane
3* Alec Morris5* TJ Yeldon4* Bradley Sylve3* Kurt Freitag
 4* Kenyan Drake4* Danny Woodson 
 4* Cyrus Jones4* Amari Cooper 
  4* Chris Black 

 


Texas

QB

RB

WR

TE

4* Connor Brewer5* Johnathan Gray3* Marcus Johnson4* MJ McFarland
3* David Ash5* Malcolm Brown4* Cayleb Jones 
  3* Miles Onyegbule 
  4* Jaxon Shipley 
  4* Mykkele Thompson 

 


Florida

QB

RB

WR

TE

4* Jacoby Brissett4* Mike Blakely4* Javares McRoy4* AC Leonard
4* Jeff Driskel3* Hunter Joyer4* Ja’Juan Story4* Kent Taylor
3* Skyler Mornhinweg4* Matt Jones3* Raphael Andrades4* Colin Thompson
  4* Latroy Pittman 

 


Ohio State

QB

RB

WR

TE

3* Cardale Jones4* Warren Ball3* Frank Epitropoulos3* Blake Thomas
4* Braxton Miller4* Bri’onte Dunn3* Ricquan Southward3* Jeff Heuerman
  4* Michael Thomas4* Nick Vannett
  3* Devin Smith 
  3* Evan Spencer 

 


Florida State

QB

RB

WR

TE

3* Jacob Coker3* Eric Beverly4* Kelvin Benjamin4* Nick O’Leary
3* Sean Maguire4* Devonta Freeman4* Rashad Greene4* Christo Kourtzidis
5* Jameis Winston5* James Wilder Jr.4* Marvin Bracy 
 4* Mario Pender  

 


Michigan

QB

RB

WR

TE

3* Russell Bellomy3* Sione Houma3* Jehu Chesson3* Devin Funchess
 3* Drake Johnson4* Amara Darboh3* AJ Williams
 4* Dennis Norfleet 4* Chris Barnett
 4* Justice Hayes  
 3* Thomas Rawls  

 


USC

QB

RB

WR

TE

4* Cody Kessler 4* Amir Carlisle4* Marqise Lee4* Junior Pomee
4* Max Wittek3* Jahleel Pinner4* Victor Blackwell4* Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick
  5* George Farmer 
  5* Nelson Agholor 
  4* Darreus Rogers 

 


Oklahoma

QB

RB

WR

TE

3* Kendal Thompson5* Brandon Williams4* Kameel Jackson4* Max Stevenson
4* Trevor Knight4* Alex Ross5* Trey Metoyer4* Taylor McNamara
 3* David Smith4* Derrick Woods3* Sam Grant
  4* Durron Neal3* Laith Harlow
  4* Sterling Shepard 

 


LSU

QB

RB

WR

TE

3* Jeremy Liggins4* Kenny Hilliard4* Travin Dural3* Dillon Gordon
4* Jerrard Randall  3* Kavahra Holmes 
3* Stephen Rivers 4* Avery Johnson 
  4* Odell Beckham Jr. 
  5* Jarvis Landry 
  3* Alonzo Lewis 

 


Notre Dame

QB

RB

WR

TE

5* Gunner Kiel4* KeiVarae Russell3* Chris Brown4* Ben Koyack
3* Everett Golson4* William Mahone3* Justin Ferguson 
 3* Cam McDaniel4* Davonte Neal 
 4* George Atkinson III4* Davaris Daniels 

 


*Note that I did my best to make sure these tables were comprehensive and accurate, though there could be errors/omissions due to confusion over a player’s true position.

**Whether or not a player is still on the current roster is irrelevant since the purpose of this data is to look at recruiting achievements.

 

Summary

3 Stars4 Stars5 StarsTotal
Oregon49215
Alabama38213
Texas35210
Florida310013
Ohio State75012
Florida State37212
Michigan74011
USC18211
Oklahoma48214
LSU55111
Notre Dame46111

 

According to the Rivals star-ratings, Oregon appears to have collected the most offensive skill position talent over the last two recruiting cycles, at least on paper. Now, in reality, the talent difference shown between Oregon and Alabama, USC or Oklahoma is virtually non-existent. The point is, Oregon is right there with the nation’s elite, which has never been the case at any point in UO history.

Opposing fans might claim that defense wins championships, thus watering down Oregon’s recent recruiting success, but the Ducks have proven that to be false (at least in conference) and it’s not as if the coaches haven’t been picking up great defenders. In the future, we’ll take a look at how the Ducks measure up against the big boys on the defensive side of the ball.

Given the additions of Tyner and Wilson to the 2013 class, and the serious interest of numerous highly rated preps, I don’t expect Oregon to fall from these ranks anytime soon. It’ll be interesting to add 2013 signees to this list next year and see where everything stands.

Regardless of how things shake out, it’s apparent that for the foreseeable future, Oregon coaches will be working with more offensive talent than they’ve ever had, and that cannot be a comforting thought for the PAC12 ‘s defensive coordinators.

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