Recruiting Analysis: Confusing Developments

“What in the world are the coaches doing?” Oregon’s recruiting philosophy has always been a bit of a mystery, but some of the recent happenings have left many more confused than ever.

Let’s take a look at some of the recent head-scratchers. It seemed to start with Gareon Conley, a Tier-1 cornerback prospect that

Gareon Conley

recently de-committed from Michigan, and by all accounts, was very serious about the Ducks. Last week, Conley let everyone know that Oregon was no longer pursuing him because, presumably, they only had one DB spot remaining and wanted a safety. At least that’s what Conley says the Oregon coaches told him.

Fast forward a few days and it became apparent that the Ducks weren’t done targeting cornerbacks, extending an offer to Jalen Ramsey, a Tier-E cornerback committed to USC. The Oregon coaches were also rumored to be increasing their interest in Chris Hawkins, a Tier-1 cornerback also committed to USC. So much for not having room for a corner.

Finally, news came out a couple days ago that Oregon would no longer pursue Max Redfield, a Tier-1 safety prospect that de-committed from USC and who most expected to end up in Eugene. Apparently, the coaches told Redfield that he wouldn’t be allowed to visit because they felt he would end up at Notre Dame regardless.

Now, if you’re not confused by some of this news, then you’re in the minority. The Conley news was surprising because by all accounts, he’s a very good player who had referred to Oregon as his dream school, even while committed to Michigan. The Ducks seemed to be pursuing Conley and appeared to be in great shape going forward, so it came as a huge surprise to see them move on.

Whether Conley isn’t telling the whole story, or the Oregon coaches weren’t being truthful with him is unclear, since the staff is obviously still pursuing cornerbacks. The whole situation is just odd.

Jalen Ramsey & Chris Hawkins

Furthermore, Oregon’s pursuit of Ramsey and Hawkins is curious because Chip Kelly’s policy is to not use resources recruiting committed prospects, unless they reach out first with seemingly serious interest. Does this mean that Ramsey and Hawkins reached out to Oregon and let them know their commitments aren’t as strong as USC recruiting websites would make them appear? Who knows?

Max Redfield

While the cornerback recruiting developments are more puzzling than anything else, the Redfield situation has left some frustrated, to say the least. Redfield is a player who has been tied to the Ducks for over a year. After his de-commitment from USC, there were a lot of people saying Oregon was in great shape. It seemed to be a match made in heaven; Oregon is looking for another safety and Redfield is a high-character 5-star talent who has always loved the Ducks.

What makes any type of analysis difficult is the fact that other than the Oregon coaches, nobody really knows anything. If the staff feels strongly enough that Redfield is going to Notre Dame and bringing him on campus for a visit would be wasting time and money, then so be it. It’s hard to imagine money being an issue, though. Just last month, Oregon brought Nico Falah on campus for a visit WHILE he was still committed to USC, and it was widely known that he wasn’t wavering. Reconciling these two cases is difficult.

Would bringing Redfield to Eugene on an official visit do any harm? The worst-case scenario is that nothing changes. The best-case scenario is that he realizes why he loved Oregon in the first place and commits on the spot. Maybe the coaches are just playing hard to get and hoping Redfield picks up his interest in a more obvious manner. Maybe they feel strongly about landing another safety prospect, like Juwaan Williams or Leon McQuay. If the coaches end up missing on those guys, though, there’s going to be a lot of confusion and frustration.

Leon McQuay & Juwaan Williams

Going in a different direction, there are typically three different reactions to this type of news:

1. The coaches are infallible. Results on the field prove that, end of discussion. Chip Kelly knows what he’s doing and there’s no way he’s making a mistake. He never makes a mistake. Let’s carve his image out of wood and sacrifice goats to it.

2. The coaches have no idea what they’re doing. They’re terrible recruiters. Why can’t we recruit!?!?!? We are the hottest program in the country and every 5-star in the country should want to come here. Chip Kelly is a great coach but he couldn’t recruit a sack of beans. I have absolutely no idea what he’s thinking. What are we doing right now!?!?!? AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

3. I’m confused. Only the coaches know what’s really going on; I get that. I also know that just because Chip is a great coach doesn’t mean he’s a great recruiter. Everybody has weaknesses. Maybe recruiting is Oregon’s weakness, or maybe not. It’s possible that the overall strategy is hidden from view, but if I saw it, everything would make a lot more sense. I’m willing to be patient and let everything play out.

Option #3 looks pretty good. Having patience and seeing how the class rounds out before making judgments isn’t a bad idea. That’s not to say the ride will be smooth if you choose to follow Oregon recruiting. After all, Oregon’s recruiting philosophy is like a Rubik’s Cube – trying to figure it out will just leave you confused and frustrated.

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Chris Charbonnier

Chris Charbonnier

Chris 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’t 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).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Keith-Dennis/1081164398 Keith Dennis

    This story could have been started with this sentence: “What makes any type of analysis difficult is the fact that other than the Oregon coaches, nobody really knows anything.” And if you ended there, you could have saved yourself much consternation.

    When looking at one of these admittedly frustrating-appearing incidents, imagine the alternative scenarios; One of these top tier guys is dying to come to Oregon, but the Oregon staff is too inept an says, “we don’t believe you so we don’t want you anymore.” Does this follow logic? Oregon has had the best sustained run of recruiting ever to go along with the best sustained run of on field success ever. What have they done in the past to make anyone think that they’re bad recruiters? If you trust them to go 45-7 on Saturdays (and the occasional Thursday), then why don’t you trust them in recruiting?

    I can’t help myself when it comes to recruiting news. I get excited when a four or five star guy commits. I get disappointed when they decommit. But none of it matters until national signing day.

    • Chris Charbonnier

      You see a Rubik’s Cube just sitting there. You know that there’s no way you’ll ever figure it out. You pick it up anyway.

      Such is recruiting :)

  • worldwidewebfoot

    In recruiting we need to remember that we, as fans, are outsiders. We do not see anywhere near the complete picture on these high school students. So we mistakenly assume “all other things being equal.” Here we see seemingly more qualified player A not being aggressively recruited as seemingly less qualified player B. Assuming that A and B are truly equal in “other things” then our confusion is perhaps justified. But what if player A has an SAT score of 300, two marijuana convictions as a juvenile, had both knees worked on, and is represented by a “street agent” named Willie? Meanwhile player B has an SAT of 1100, also runs track, sings in the church choir on Sunday, and his uncle is a high school football coach? Which player would you try to recruit?

    • Chris Charbonnier

      Some would argue that the coaches should know this type of information before the December prior to Signing Day. Decisions about who to pursue are usually made before fall practice. It’s a fluid situation obviously, with the Big Board changing daily, and most get that, but this year has just been so odd. If you’ve been following Oregon recruiting for more than a couple years, that much is clear.

  • SeanG

    Here’s but one example of why I don’t get too excited about recruiting “rankings” and recruiting “stars:”

    Jeff Maehl – 2-star safety vs. (i) Devon Blackmon – 4-star WR, (ii) Jamere Holland – 4-star WR

    I could go on, but I won’t! The Ducks recruit by FIT and TOOLS. As in: will this player FIT into our scheme, our philosophy, our discipline, our educational requirements? And does this player have the specific TOOLS to do the specific things players are expected to do in the Ducks’ complex offense or complex defense?

    • Chris Charbonnier

      Despite how I feel about cherry picking star-rankings to justify your reasoning, I’m just going to leave that alone. I wrote a 5-part series on the relevance of recruiting rankings already.

      And that’s not even the point here. The overwhelming majority of fans have no problem when the coaches go after 2-star guys. I love it and I know I always have high expectations for those players. That has nothing to do with anything written in this article, though.

  • MattW

    There is a more reasonable reaction: “This seems more like conjecture than analysis. The coaches have information at their disposal that we don’t and, given their track record, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.”

    • Chris Charbonnier

      Aka option one, which is simply shameless hyperbole expanding on the “trust the coaches” mantra.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1349807211 Chris Andres

        Option one is a flawed statement. We can trust that the coaches know what they’re doing and be willing to wait til signing day without the ridiculous end that you put onto it!

        • Chris Charbonnier

          See “shameless hyperbole” above.

  • http://www.facebook.com/doug.mai.3 Doug Mai

    Well I have to admit, I’ve always been confused with their recruiting tactic’s but after 4 year’s the result’s speak for themselve’s. I know with Tyner and Wilson we just got way better and this offense is flat out the best Talent in all the PAC, but it’s the Defense where we certainly have gotten better but if two 4 5 star CB’s are seriously interested and have voiced to our staff that they want to be Duck’s then you take them, but one area where they really need to improve is Safety and regardless if it’s McQuay or Redfield I don’t care but they have to bring one of them on board, and Here’s what’s keeping us just a notch below the like’s of ELITE status id the Middle of our D and that’s Run Stuffing DT’s that Team’s fail consistently to get 100 yard Game’s, cause we have Team speed to shut down the corner’s I mean that’s obvious, but you don’t lose Vanderoes cause you want him to play NT in your D, cause last time I looked I’m kind of confused on that cause we usually run a four man front on our base D. So long story short, I’ll just wait until after signing day to judge this class and still could realistically be one of our best yet.

    • hokieduck

      Actually, Doug, Oregon jumps back and forth from a 4-3 to a 3-4, thus the need for a “drop end” like Dion Jordan who goes form DE to LB depending on the formation.

      This year was simply brutal. I know this is nothing new to readers here, but we had so many injuries on both lines, especially on the defensive side that at one point we had the starting first 5 defensive linemen on the sidelines hurt and literally had to activate a kid from the practice squad to go along with the three true freshmen on the line. One of those true freshmen, Alex Balducci, had his redshirt removed in order to play. We also lost both corners, two different safeties including our pre-season All america pick, John Boyett.

      The O line was so decimated that kids were moving from guard to tackle positions and vice versa and from side to side. Center was abou the only spot that thankfully stayed solid.

      In that regard, do any of you slacker, amateur, crappy FD writers (sarcasm aimed at posters above) have any info on whether the NCAA will grant Kyle Long another year of eligibility? Thanks for all you do and bring to the Oregon Duck and college football loving community.

      • http://www.facebook.com/doug.mai.3 Doug Mai

        Yeah your right I said it incorrectly, about Dion’s Hybrid position, and you are correct that they do run a lot of 3 – 4 but they also run a lot of 4 man front’s as well, so thank’s for the correction, I just kind of get frustrated when the Coach’s supposedly have a chance to secure a top 20 player in Vanderoes, and It goes back to the confusing word’s Chip Kelly say’s coming out of his mouth and it’s very contradictive, either you don’t recruit player’s that are committed or you do, what is it, you tell and recruit different player’s and bring them here because they wan’t to play a different position and for the most part they have, but to tell a Talented player like Vanderoes you only wan’t him for Nose Guard is totally ridiculous when this kid NO MATTER what position he play’s on the line would be a PLUS over all your other D Line people you’ve been bringing in here, cause at one time he was supposedly our’s to lose, So everything about Chip’s tactic’s from here on out are questionable at best, because Eddie is one of those Player’s you just don’t let get away.

  • Thatruth

    It’s pretty simple. Sometimes other players your recruiting lose interest and feel a lack of loyalty if you offer someone else at the same position. Maybe the USC committ offered more interest than the ND recruit and they though they would have a better chance of getting him if they retracted the other offer and reaffirmed that the USC committ is there guy. This is a pointless article. Your website needs more credibility, there’s too many “amateur opinion” articles.

    • Chris Charbonnier

      Thanks for reading Truth!

    • fishduck

      Correction truth; they are ALL amateur opinions. But then what is “professional?” Someone who writes for a living? That means he is more skilled at writing than most–but does he really KNOW more than many of us? Than Chris? Doubtful.

      I say this because I’ve seen that “professionals” had a new defense under their nose for a year, and did not know it until the principal to this site brought it to their attention in the summer of 2010. We ran the Spread Offense for FIVE years, and yet the “professionals” had not explained a thing about it to the public, hence the original reason for this site.

      When you get down to it, we are ALL guessing about a ton of this stuff, but I believe that you’ll find contributers here who have a better guess than those who are simply better at writing and thus, “professional.”

    • kevin

      Another criticism with no merit. Some of you posters seem like spoiled children.

      Tell me, what did it cost you to read that article? I’m sure the Fishduck folks will refund you, whatever you paid.

      Personally, as a duck fan I am highly appreciative of this site. Charles’ analysis of the offensive schemes/scheming filled a vast void in my understanding of duck football that no one – “professional” or amateur seemed interested or capable of filling. That’s what drew me in. I return for his ongoing analysis as well as for the information others in the community graciously share.

      Let’s consider this article. I enjoyed it thoroughly, even as a consumer of “professional” writers. I’ve been reading pieces on recruiting in the R-Guard, the Oregonian, ESPN and a few other places. Chris’ piece was as informative as any, and far more entertaining than most. You don’t like that it gets a bit speculative in places? As you implied: as we’re not privy to recruiting conversations, will likely never really know any of the specifics.

      But then to conclude that recruiting isn’t a worthy subject (via casting aspersion on the prowess of the author) doesn’t logically follow. Opinion, conjecture, speculation, evaluation of performance, analysis of trends – none of this is necessarily constrained by lack of insider information. If it were, there would be virtually no articles on recruiting. Which you’d know by now, if you’ve been paying attention.

  • FISHDUCK SUCKS

    FishDuck.com is stupid. where has the quality gone?

    • fishduck

      Now who would this disgruntled spammer be? :)

  • John S.

    The trend of mediocre writing here continues…

    The author starts with a quote – “What in the world are the coaches doing?”

    Yet, it’s not actually a quote attributed to anyone. I guess the author is saying this and quoting himself? I mean did someone say it – or did he just write it?

    He goes on to say stuff like this:
    Apparently, the coaches told Redfield that he wouldn’t be allowed to visit because they felt he would end up at Notre Dame regardless.

    Yet the author provides no source for this information so we are just supposed to trust the author I guess that this is true. Who cares about standard journalistic integrity – it’s just a blog right?

    There is very little that is concrete in this “recruiting analysis” post. The author offers conjecture after conjecture about maybe why something could be possibly happening or not depending on multiple factors that are ambiguous. So….basically the author just sounds like he is trying his hardest to follow Oregon recruiting, but he is confused.

    Wow – quite a post.

    • Chris Charbonnier

      Maybe I’ll be next to go :o

      Mediocre writing? I am a mediocre writer! I went to school for Finance, not journalism. I write for FD for fun and the people who like my work. I could go through and cite everything I said like if I were writing for the Oregonian, where the professional writers get bashed too, but that takes additional time that I didn’t feel was necessary. I didn’t misrepresent any quotes.

      I have a more than full-time job, a wife, a toddler and numerous other obligations. Sorry this wasn’t up to your standards, though. Feel free to put in an application.

      • John S.

        Your posts are much more interesting than the Oregonian Ducks section. You are a better writer than me or most people. I was more concerned about trends in college football reporting that frustrate me. Recruiting always brings it out.

    • FishStaff

      In regards to your side note:

      I don’t see the obligation to post as the to nature of corrections on anything that I or any other editor might alter. We are not a newspaper, and as such I’m puzzled by what exactly the need would be to publish corrections. If you pointed something out and it was altered; so be it,

      It is the policy of Fishduck not to comment regarding why an article or writer that was previously on the site is no longer here. If you have a vested interested then you may email Fishduck. The comments section of an article will never be an appropriate place to address those questions, be they valid or not.

      Carl Blackwell, Publisher

      • John S.

        You are not a newspaper. You are however a publisher as noted in your signature. So information is disseminated to the general public in the form of online journalism, analysis, opinion, entertainment, etc.

        How seriously you take that responsibility is your prerogative. To be honest I am not even sure the previous article (moneyball) cited needed a correction. It just made no sense and was insulting to readers. I really like FIshduck in theory – I just keep getting disappointed by the writing lately.

      • John S.

        Correct, you are not a newspaper. You are a publisher as noted in your signature. This means you disseminate information in the form of online journalism, analysis, opinion, entertainment, etc. It’s your prerogative what level an obligation you feel to your readers regarding the content distributed.

        • fishduck

          John..is this discussion relevant to the original point of the article? We are going to start pruning posts that go off on different tangents away from the articles.

          If you have criticism, please email it. We do listen and change, but again….let’s stay on topic in these comments. The bottom line is there is a HUGE story behind the article you linked..and one that I’m not going to go into or answer about here because again…it is not relevant to a recruiting article.

          I see no reason to tolerate to having people blasting writers or insults to the site…when, again, it can be done, but not in a public setting. We have thousands read these, and there is not need to subject the majority to all this.

          • John S.

            I see your point and will email in the future if I want to comment on something not germane to the article. I hope you understand from my point of view I was simply replying to the post by your Publisher which was then promptly deleted. (selectively pruned?) I felt a reply was warranted and appropriate given the situation.

    • kevin

      Thanks for the mediocre pedantry.

      These guys share information with the community because they care about the Ducks. Pretty sure no one is making a buck here, let alone getting rich. My advice to you is that you go somewhere where someone gives a sh*t about the opinion of the guy who criticizes people for their voluntary contributions.

      Not sure where that would be, but certain it isn’t here.

      • http://www.facebook.com/doug.mai.3 Doug Mai

        Exactly, If your so damned Talented at writing about Sport’s get on here and tell us how Oregon is bringing in the NO. 1 class in the Nation, because Chip is being very contradictive in his wording on how recruiting is going, Because he say’s one thing and does another, He’s really starting to sound like the rest of College Coach’s and not being up front like he normally does, So unless you Know something more than the REST please let us know, cause pretty much every website I’ve been on everybody is confused by what the Staff or Chip is saying and doing, And I for one appreciate all the writer’s on Fishduck.