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

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

Chris Charbonnier
Reported by Chris Charbonnier on May 28, 2012
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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.

About Author
Chris Charbonnier

Chris CharbonnierChris was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, but made his way to Oregon by the age of five, when he attended his first game at Autzen Stadium. A huge sports fan at a young age, Chris grew up playing football, basketball and golf. Although realizing he isn‚Äôt likely to play in the NFL or NBA, Chris still holds on to hopes of being a professional golfer should his unfortunate putting woes take a turn for the better. A bit of a platypus, he attended both Oregon State and Oregon during his collegiate days where he earned a business degree in Finance and Business Administration. Chris works for Daimler Trucks North America in Portland, and plans to get his MBA from the University of Oregon.Chris has been an active member in the recruiting community since 2005. He studies the intricacies of recruiting and is particularly intrigued by talent evaluation techniques. He is currently working on developing his own scouting reports for every scholarship player on the UO roster. Chris lives with his wife, Katrina, and his two-year-old son Lucas (a future dual-threat QB).View all posts by Chris Charbonnier →


 

 

This article is published and edited by:

Editor

FishDuck Staff

Editor In Chief

Dano Dunn

Dano Dunn

 

  • Cdxdano

    Good read, Chris – chart work was off the . . ., eh, well, you know.¬

    Looking forward to your defensive chartmeisterly analysis :) ¬†You might, however, want to correct the “viola” (= instrument) to “voila” (= there ya go, slick). ;)

    • Chris Charbonnier

      Good catch C. Thanks

  • Coastal Duck

    The previous comment should be attributed to “Coastal Duck,” rather than “Cdxdano.”¬

    Thank ya, thank ya ver much.

  • schack

    Great read.

  • FishDuck

    Chris…your perspective and analysis of recruiting is unique and teaches us all important points to consider when considering the big picture of how Oregon is doing. ¬† We love your work..

  • Luscious

    Great article my man.¬† Very comprehensive and yet easy to understand for the common fan such as myself.¬† I liked the¬†top ten¬†comparison, but a little bummed that Michigan’s brand can’t buy a 5 star athlete, maybe some day…

  • Chris Charbonnier

    Something I wanted to address but couldn’t find a place for in the article is the 2010 class. I know some fans will say, “well, my team killed it in 2010 so they didn’t need to look at all these great skill position players in ’11 and ’12″. Oregon’s 2010 class wasn’t bad either, and the majority of that class committed before the conference championship or Rose Bowl appearance. The brand was already being established, and like I said in the article, all of the winning just supported the supposed reality of the brand.¬

    2010 Class:

    5* RB Lache Seastrunk
    4* RB Dontae Williams
    4* QB Brian Bennett
    4* WR Josh Huff
    4* WR Keanon Lowe
    4* TE Curtis White

    Again, looking at only the recruiting process, that was a really good haul.¬

  • SRS15

    This doesn’t take into account the quality of four stars and just puts sheer volume of players together so it doesn’t hold much weight as far as who has put together the most skill position talent. That’s not how rivals’ rankings are done.

    Also, Buck Allen is left off of USC’s RB list.

    Finally skill position is good and fun, but in the trenches and on defense is where football games are won. In the last two years, Oregon has recruited two Rivals100 linemen or defensive players. USC has recruited 11 in that span. I’m sure that the other elite programs listed would have similar numbers.

    • Chris Charbonnier

      Ya, as I alluded to in the article, I’m also going to look at OLine and D recruiting over that stretch as well. I don’t think anyone expects Oregon to be at the tops of those lists.

  • Douglasmai

    SRS15, are u a sc homer, seriously the homers, I mean trojans obviously recruit the best, but the skill positions are now belonging to the DUCKS and as its said SPEED kills as long as u get a hole well u can go and most of these guys when they see day light their gone. So u dont need 5 star recruits on the line to do that, which lately UO is getting mostly 4 star recruits on O Line. SC should be dominating Pac 12 with all the 4 and 5 star players they get on both lines including dominating our Ducks, well are they NO, because obviously alot of these guys are OVERATED. Trojans got lucky last year COME ON MAN we scored 4 TDs in 1 and half QTRs, this team will beat sc down south this year u can bet on it. So heres some advice like I tell all u sc lovers your just freaken jealous of our product, yours of coarse is history no doubt about it ours is innovative and that freaks u people out. Well the BRANDS not going away its here to stay so get used to it.

  • http://www.FiShDuck.com Kurt Liedtke

    Online “My sports team is better than your sports team!” arguments are fun…type louder!

  • Qvakatak

    Chris. Great info although a bit slanted with Lache Seastrunk and Tra Carson heading back home. I think Lache was having trouble w/Oregons offenseive scheme. I kind of agree with SRS15 that we need to become a destination spot for the big boys upfront.¬† Also it seems we’ve given more data than we should be giving negative recruiters fodder to talk to kids parents about.¬† Tell me I’m wrong please.
    qvak

    • Chris Charbonnier

      Seastrunk isn’t listed so idk what you mean there. Carson transferred, but like I said, these charts look only at recruiting success. Other teams likely have players that have left the program as well.

      As to your sentiment regarding the guys in the trenches, this has been a talking point since Ngata left. Fact is, they grow ‘em differently in the south. Consistently putting some players in the league would help our case greatly. That said, we’ve landed some great linemen in the last couple classes and look to be in good shape for Eddie Vamderdoes, one of the nation’s best DTackles. He just so happens to be really close with Arik Armstead. Look for future posts to look at this very issue.

  • Qvakatak

    Chris.
    I chose the wrong word in slanted.¬† I did¬†think Lache went to Baylor to play football.¬† The reason I mentioned anything was that I read Texas coaching was not liking the Oregon connection and that the transfers were being used negatively.¬† Keep us informed.¬† ¬

  • Ian Snyder

    As I’ve been taking my Marketing (317) class this term I found that the similarities between marketing and college football are undeniable, and to see this post sum up all the relations that I’ve made between the class and CFB is pretty awesome. When you think about it, brand value and brand recognition are integral parts of each program. The conference realignment and subsequent TV deals demonstrate their importance, Texas/USC/Michigan are great examples of strong recognition and value, Notre Dame being a great example of when you start to lose both. In recruiting, where national championships are won, nothing is more important than how you convey brand value to recruits. Recognition is just as important, and this is something that Oregon has been capitalizing on within the last decade starting with the Harrington billboard (pretty blatant marketing effort there).¬

    You hit the nail on the head with differentiation, this is what Oregon’s brand has been built on. Uniforms, play style, facilities, location and the Nike connection have all served to distance Oregon from the competition and lure recruits away from the other guys, allowing us to succeed in an unfavorable position being in a small rainy state. But there is one thing that Oregon has also done to differentiate that is worth mentioning: We will play you to what your strengths are. Going back to Cameron Colvin, we have allowed recruits to the option to play the position they are suited the best for, and this selling point has landed us most of our biggest recruiting victories in school history.
    Cameron Colvin, Darron Thomas, Arik Armstead, De’Anthony Thomas and probably some others that I’m forgetting are all guys that were told by other schools what position they were going to play. Oregon came in and told them that they could play where they believed they would be the most successful, and it turned out to be the difference-maker in each of their recruiting processes. To me, this is the most underrated and important aspect of Oregon’s brand differentiation strategy.

    Also, the end of the first paragraph reminds me of Eleanor Roosevelt’s timeless quote that is quite applicable to Oregon:

    “America is built on speed. Hot, nasty, bad-ass speed”