Today, June 27th, 2013, marks the first day in a new era of Oregon Duck football. The Chip Kelly saga, bowl-ban hype, and 2-year NCAA investigation are now officially over with. This teams past is no longer making headlines, coach Kelly is on the other side of the country, and mystery man Willie Lyles is MIA. While it seems as if every single sports media outlet is weighing in on the “severity” and/or “fairness” of the NCAA’s sanctions on our beloved Ducks, the nation’s focus will soon shift directly towards this impressive 2013-2014 roster and their upcoming season with huge BCS implications.
The short-term future is no longer in jeopardy; it is solely in the hands of Mark Helfrich and his players. So close your eyes, hold on tight, and buckle up for one hell of a ride, because the Ducks are moving forward with DAT like speed.
“Change” might be the motto of the 2013 season:
What about recruiting…? What does yesterday’s news mean for Oregon’s long-term sustainability into the future?
While the loss of three scholarships and minor restrictions on their day-to-day recruiting process will hinder the Ducks’ potential on building the nation’s top recruiting class, it is more important to debate whether or not the University of Oregon and Mark Helfrich will still be as appetizing to high school superstars as it had been in the Chip Kelly era.
Let this first class of 2014 recruits be the tell-tale signs of the caliber of athletes that will be sending their letters of intent to Eugene for years to come. Thus far it’s looking pretty solid, Oregon’s 2014 recruiting class is six-deep and mixed with three and four-star guys. No five-stars yet; however, the Ducks have offers out to and are listed in the “Medium Interest” and “High Interest” categories on an impressive number of blue chip recruits. Oregon’s on-field success this season could have a lot to do with how recruits perceive the new era of Duck football for years to come; time will only tell.
It is also important to take a look at this past years recruiting class. Seeing how those commitments were made with not only severe NCAA Sanction rumors, but amidst the Chip Kelly NFL ordeal. What turned out to be one of Oregon’s most talented classes was once in disarray with players verbally de-committing and “re-opening” their recruiting process.
We saw Thomas Tyner question his immediate and passionate commitment to the Ducks he thought he knew and loved. We saw the Robinson twins tweeting about how much fun they were having on all these recruiting visits. We saw Chris Seisay and Darren Carrington question the honesty and integrity of the current staff as rumors swirled. Yet, all of them stuck with Oregon.
The only recruit Oregon lost was four-star Dontre Wilson from Texas, but that incident can be tied into the competition he would ultimately face going carry for carry against Tyner and the rest of the talented running back core already on the roster.
In total, nineteen commitments including one five-star and EIGHT four-star guys made the 2013 class. It was this class that showed that elite high school talent wants to play for the Oregon Ducks despite any and all controversy surrounding the team. It displays their faith in Helfrich, confidence in their fellow teammates, and immense desire to be apart of what this football program has become.
Let us applaud the transformation that took place over the last five years. Let us applaud Chip Kelly. Let us breathe a sigh of relief upon the end of the NCAA’s investigation. Most importantly, let us applaud the now – the new era of Oregon Duck Football stemming from a hectic period of controversy and greatness, and starting from a platform atop the world of college football.
Get Helfrich or Die Tryin’…
64 days. Go Ducks!