“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
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.
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?
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.
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.