Oregon Football Recruiting Cycle Ending with Fab Five Finish

Bralon Addison Feature

Kevin Cline

Usually, early December is far too early to accurately predict an Oregon recruiting class, but this year might be the exception.  After landing their 15th verbal commitment earlier in the week from JUCO stud Offensive Guard Haniteli Lousi, it appears that the Ducks are going hard after just five more players.  Who are these five special targets?

1)  ATH Budda Baker

Baker has been at the top of Oregon’s board for quite some time.  The unanimous 4-star recruit has long been considered an Oregon lean, and despite some recent rumblings otherwise, I don’t believe much has changed.  This has long been thought of as an Oregon/Washington battle for the Bellevue, WA athlete.  Baker has an ill mother, so distance has always been an important factor.

UCLA has been in Baker’s top-3 for a while, but as a distant third.  Was a recent visit there enough to change his mind?  It’s possible, since his friend and former teammate, Myles Jack, has had so much success in his first season for the Bruins, winning the Pac-12 offensive AND defensive player of the year awards.  Being a two-way standout himself, this might appeal to Baker.

Could Baker be the next great Oregon DB? Or will he play offense?

Kevin Cline

Could Baker be the next great Oregon DB?  Or will he play offense?

Additionally, USC has entered the mix for this elite athlete since new head coach Steve Sarkisian has taken over. He’s been recruiting Baker for years now, so that relationship is something to watch.  Ultimately, Baker is still likely to stay close to home, and with Washington’s recent coaching shake-up, there’s no reason to believe that Oregon has fallen out of the lead.  We’ll see if new Huskies head coach Peterson can make a late move, but if Baker ends up staying in state, it will undoubtedly be due to his mother, something no one can fault him for.

2)  ILB Jimmie Swain

At this time, the former TCU commit out of Kansas is probably the top defensive player on Oregon’s big board, considering Baker is an athlete who could end up on either side of the ball.  Swain is a big, talented inside linebacker, something Oregon desperately needs if the last four games are any indication.

Linebackers coach Don Pellum has done a great job throughout this recruitment. Swain’s recent de-commitment from TCU leaves him to choose between Oregon and Texas A&M, among others.  An in-home visit from head coach Mark Helfrich and multiple defensive coaches last night couldn’t have hurt Oregon’s chances to land the consensus 4-star prep linebacker.

At this point Oregon is in great position.  Expect to hear good news in the near future.

3)  WR/TE Frank Iheanacho

Can Oregon land a 3rd stud WR out of Houston?

Kevin Cline

Can Oregon land a 3rd stud WR out of Houston?

Much like Bralon Addison, another high 4-star WR out of Houston, Iheanacho has emerged as an Oregon target late in the year.  The coaches hope that the results are similar.  An upcoming visit this weekend will likely decide the fate of the 6-foot-7, 220-pound athlete’s recruitment.

For some time Iheanacho was thought to be a Texas A&M lock, but the Ducks have made a serious push in the last few weeks.  Based on what I’m hearing from multiple sources, the coaches feel really good about where they stand.  A good visit this weekend could push Oregon into the lead.  Iheanacho currently plans on announcing at the Army All-American game in early January.

4)  S Mattrell McGraw

This is a player who has long been thought to be solid Oregon.  The 4-star safety out of New Orleans is down to Oregon and UCLA.  McGraw plans to announce on national signing day.  There were rumors that he was an Oregon silent commit, but those were never true.

McGraw visits Eugene this weekend and that could go a long way towards securing his commitment.  He’s always loved the Ducks and defensive backs coach John Neal has been recruiting him hard since early on in this recruiting cycle.  This player is definitely coveted by the staff.  I don’t see any reason not to expect McGraw to sign with Oregon, although don’t be surprised to see UCLA and/or Ohio State make a push come January.

5)  OT Nick Gates

A long forgotten target, Gates is a player Oregon’s coaches are really high on.  Watch his film and you’ll see why.  Many feel the 3-star tackle out of Las Vegas is Texas A&M bound, but a visit this weekend could change that.

Industry insiders certainly seem to think that Gates will end up an Aggie, but just like Iheanacho and Swain, I’m hearing from two different sources that the coaches feel like they’re actually in the driver’s seat, ahead of Texas A&M.  For that reason, don’t be surprised if Gates commits after a good visit.

Can Helfrich bring the rain for a 2nd straight recruiting cycle?

Kevin Cline

Can Helfrich bring the rain for a second straight recruiting cycle?

This coming weekend is going to be big, with Iheanacho, McGraw and Gates all coming to town. The Ducks are looking to make a big impression with all three.  Early next week look for glowing reports; anything short of that would be bad for Oregon’s chances with the trio moving forward.

Right now, I feel good about all five names.  If Oregon can manage to land all five, it would be a fantastic end to the 2014 recruiting cycle.  Baker, Swain and Iheanacho are all unanimous 4-star rated players.  McGraw has been coveted by Oregon’s staff since earlier this spring and has garnered 4-star rankings from 247 and ESPN.  Meanwhile, Gates is quietly one of the better linemen out west, something confirmed by an offer list that includes Texas A&M, Nebraska and Alabama.

Should Oregon land all five of the aforementioned players, the Ducks would finish around 15th in the overall recruiting class rankings.  More importantly, they would have assembled yet another strong class.  If things go as expected, Oregon fans can take comfort in the staff’s ability to recruit at a high level under first-year head coach Mark Helfrich.

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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).

  • MAITAIDUCK

    This is great news, but NO D Lineman for 2 years in a row, so what is the University of Oregon trying to tell us fans, that they are not all in to getting this Team to the National Championship by 1st getting into that TOP 4 Rankings? Because lets face it, this year we had the Talent and the depth with the D Line to do just that, to get to the NATTY, and Nic Aliotti refused to change to at least 4 Man fronts and play Man coverage against Stanford, because lets face it our LBs were undersized to play that 3-4 against their Lineman and they ran it down our throats, and this Coach has been here 22 Years and we were Ranked NO.2 in the country, and that was lets just say Horse Pucky by our DC, and at a lot of BIG Schools he would no longer be there with the way the year ended. So I’m hoping these Coach’s are having a few surprises Feb. 2nd because we have only 1 true DT and that’s Balducci, So I know they can take more than 20 players in this cycle, heck they could realistickly take up to 24, so heres hoping they fix this mess. Can’t afford 1 Loss even with Marcus coming back next year, nor can we keep 285 lb Offensive Tackles to run the Ball affectively towards the end of the season.

    • oregon111

      to add to what you said, the 3-4 is a failure UNLESS you have BIG LINEBACKERS..WHO ARE ALL-PAC12 MATERIAL

      the post above covered why the 3-4 is weak against the run

      the 3-4 is weak against the pass because you have 3 pass rushers with your best pass rusher (the drop end, covering a little fast guy in the flat)

      so, to put more pressure on the pass, you blitz somebody…

      well, the QB reads the blitz, and changes to an audible run away from the blitz

      the 3-4 is doomed to failure — Alliotti needs to go — he had his time — and he has failed — since 2006, his D has only played well one seaon – last year’s — and that was because he had 3 nfl bound linebackers

      time to let Allitoi rust away and get a new DC and a 4-3 defense

  • Chris Charbonnier

    Note that Nick Gates could be replaced with OG Quinn Bailey, another 3-star who is visiting this weekend.

  • Brian Libby

    I hope we finish strong, because if you go by stars Oregon is behind the pace of the Kelly era. Scout.com gave UO an average of 3.52 stars per recruit in 2011, 3.48 in 2012, and 3.47 in 2013. So far we’re averaging 3.26 for 2014. I know stars aren’t always accurate reflections of talent, but…

    • MAITAIDUCK

      We are not done yet, this class could get as high as 22 recruits so 7 more could be a possibility so theres hope and if Helfrich does win this Game which I believe the Ducks should role unlike the 2 they lost 11-2 is not bad for a 1st year Coach so lets give him his props. I still think we need new BLOOD at the DC spot though and think places like Texas Alabama USC you know BIG name schools that have won National Championships, like we were supposed to get there and the way it all fell apart he would of I’m sure been let go, So it’s time for Mullens to go out and earn his Money and get a BIG HIRE so the Defense can start to catch up with this offense.