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Oregon Football Recruiting Analysis: Wild Week Awaits

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Oregon Football Recruiting Analysis: Wild Week Awaits

Chris Charbonnier
Reported by Chris Charbonnier on January 30, 2014
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Oregon Football Recruiting Analysis: Wild Week Awaits

With less than a week left before national signing day, there are plenty of questions surrounding Oregon’s 2014 recruiting class.  The only guarantee is that the next seven days will be eventful, one way or another.  There are also seven names to keep an eye on during that time:  DT Trey Lealaimatafao, DT Rika Levi, DT Ratu Mafileo, S Matrell McGraw, S Khalil Oliver, WR/S JuJu Smith and current Oregon CB commit Arrion Springs.

Here are my thoughts leading up to signing day:

Oregon looks to re-tool along the defensive line

D.C. Photography

Oregon looks to re-tool along the defensive line

  • The Charles Nelson commitment is a big one.  The speedy wide receiver out of Florida effectively fills the spot that Budda Baker vacated.  There are many similarities between the two, namely, size.  Both are small, lightning-fast slot receivers, although Baker might have an inch and 10 pounds on Nelson.  Obviously, Baker is much more highly rated, but those who followed Nelson’s high-school career offered up some valuable thoughts regarding his rating.  Apparently, Nelson had a great Sophomore campaign, and after a good summer on the camp circuit, was drawing interest from a lot of big names.  Then, during his junior season, he tore his ACL and interest slowed.  College coaches wanted to see how he would recover.  Well, despite not being 100% during his senior season, Nelson had a great year and earned offers from Miami, Florida, Michigan State, USC and Notre Dame, among others.  I’ve been told that he’s a great kid off the field as well (much like Baker).  As he continues to recover, Nelson has a great opportunity to be a very good college player at Oregon and his commitment certainly lessens the blow of Baker’s decision.
  • If you haven’t been following the Trey Lealaimatafao situation, let me break it down for you.  Basically, Trey was considered a heavy Oregon lean, even after he visited LSU two weekends ago.  It wasn’t until after his visit to Eugene this past weekend that LSU became a real player to land the former Texas commit.  Apparently, Trey ended up staying inside playing FIFA all night with his host, Bralon Addison, instead of going out on the town.  He posted his concerns about the lack of night life on twitter, and voiced the same to an LSU recruiting analyst.  The Oregon message boards erupted.  The emotionally-charged debate got fairly ugly, and was probably fueled by the frustrations of a fan-base who has spent the last half-decade clamoring for a big, 300-pound defensive tackle.  I’m not going to get into the debate here, but I will say that Trey’s relationship with Aarion Springs may be enough to swing the pendulum in Oregon’s favor.  It will be disappointing if Oregon’s not able to land Lealaimatafao, and the situation is more complex than simply suggesting that, “he wouldn’t have been a good fit here, anyway.”
    Helfrich and Neal could end up landing a great DB class in 2014

    D.C. Photography

    Helfrich and Neal could end up landing a great DB class in 2014.

  • The Ducks appear to be in great shape for safeties Mattrell McGraw and Khalil Oliver. McGraw has been hyping an Oregon/Texas A&M battle for his services, but I’m told this is simply to draw interest. In fact, it’s likely that he’s been a silent commit for quite some time. His antics have been a turn off to some fans, but he’s clearly enjoying the process, and the fact that Neal has been after him throughout the entire cycle says a lot.  If Neal wants him, I want him.
  • Rika Levi and Ratu Mafileo are both new targets at the defensive tackle position. Both are massive.  Levi is 350-pound JUCO prospect who played at the College of San Mateo with OG Haniteli Lousi, who has already signed his letter of intent will be in Eugene this spring.  Levi is a Texas Tech commit, but he’s visiting this weekend and could definitely flip.  Mafileo is also visiting this weekend, and though he hasn’t earned an offer yet, that could change soon as the coaches are waiting for his transcripts. The relatively unknown prospect out of Hawaii will commit on the spot if offered, and that should excite Oregon fans as the 6’3” 320-pound tackle is a nephew of Oregon legend Haloti Ngata.  While it’s reasonable to consider whether Levi and Mafileo are backup options, there’s no doubt that both have high ceilings and would fill a hole for the Ducks.
    What kind of salesman is Mark Helfrich?

    D.C. Photography

    What kind of salesman is Mark Helfrich?

  • In my opinion, the Ducks will end up with Levi and Mafileo but miss out of Lealaimatafao.  The fact that Levi was offered right after Lealaimatafao’s visit makes me think that Trey is headed to LSU. What will be interesting to watch is whether the Oregon coaches would accept commitments from all three.  That would be a great dilemma to have.
  • An emerging story-line surrounding Arrion Springs suggests that he may visit Texas this weekend.  That’s not good.  I actually heard from a source a week ago that Springs wasn’t as solid as everyone believed.  It’s odd to think about since he’s been such a vocal member of the recruiting class and has often helped recruit other players, but Springs is from Texas and the Longhorns have a new staff that has recruits excited about the direction of the program.  Apparently, the new staff got to Springs’ mother. Again, not good.  Now, Springs hasn’t confirmed his weekend plans and I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I think Oregon will lose him, but I’m definitely worried.  A Texas kid visiting Texas on the last weekend before national signing day with a chance to stay close to family and play for the local blue-blood is a troubling recipe.  Now couple that with the fact that Charlie Strong could recruit a snowball into hell and will be in his ear all weekend.  As Samuel L Jackson once famously said, “hold on to your butts.”
    JuJu Smith would make a lovely replacement for Josh Huff

    D.C. Photography

    JuJu Smith would make a lovely replacement for Josh Huff.

  • On the other side of the coin, Greg Biggins is reporting that John “JuJu” Smith is considering an unofficial visit to Oregon this weekend.  Smith is considered a USC lock, but he absolutely loved his official visit to Eugene.  Biggins has always said that Oregon was USC’s only real competition.  If Smith was to take an unofficial this weekend, on his own dime, that would say a lot about his interest in the Ducks.  Could this be DAT 2.0?  I’m not getting my hopes up; Justin Hopkins of 247 doesn’t believe that the Ducks have a shot. He’s usually quite accurate when he makes definitive statements like he has about Oregon’s chances with Smith (see: zero chance).  Nonetheless, Biggins knows his stuff too and so this is something to watch.  If Smith is on campus this weekend, all bets are off.  You can be sure that USC will do everything in its power to keep him from visiting, so we’ll see what happens.  I’m not holding my breath. Okay, maybe a little.

So there you have it. Seven days, seven names.  Just think, next week at this time, it’ll all be over and you’ll be reading my class analysis piece.  Here’s to a magical week full of JuJu’s, Lealaimatafao’s and Mafileo’s.  Until then my friends.

Top photo by D.C. Photography

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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’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).View all posts by Chris Charbonnier →


 

 

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  • worldwidewebfoot

    Great analysis. Great candidates. I sincerely hope the Ducks are successful in signing all of them. As I have mentioned before, the defensive line is a key need, and I think many feel the same way. Those of us that saw Nick Fairley in action a few years ago know what it looks like and would love to have such a player in yellow and green.
    There was mention above of “night life in Eugene.” Umm, I don’t think there is any. Isn’t that what people come to Eugene to get away from? Remember some of the players driving to Portland for night life, and how that turned out on I-5 at 4AM? A better image would be to stroll the Willamette, and show them DeAnthony Thomas’ favorite fishing spot, behind the Chinese restaurant. That is what Eugene has to offer. Along with an excellent educational experience.

  • Gary McAuley

    The best recruits for Oregon are those kids who DON’T want the Big City lights (Charles Nelson, example) and loves the great outdoors. DAT loves to fish, as an example. He grew up in a Big City and can take it or leave it. He’d rather go fishing. That’s our guy.
    If a recruit comes to Eugene and thinks there’s not enough nightlife, he wouldn’t be happy in Eugene anyway. Best to find those academic kids who’d rather go camping and fishing.
    That’s what Oregon is all about.

  • WashingtonDCduck

    Eugene has nightlife? LOLss I’ll simply say this, it’s a true college town, a very small town, and the great thing about it is the fact that people in Eugene eat and breath college football. Granted it’s not the south, but it’s similiar to Madison or Ann Arbor. You walk around Seattle, Phoenix, S.F. or L.A. and there is a lot going on (all great cities, well, not Seattle) but college football is not the pulse of the city.
    You look at other footprints in the conference, Pullman, Corvalis, or even Tucscon and those are some remote places that truly are tiny. Eugene is not that small but still offers a decent sized city that does not completley die in the summer when students are gone but the football team is all there training and doing summer school.
    Big Big week. Great analysis. Let’s welcome some big boys to Eugene on the D Line in a week.

  • Jessie

    You want nightlife? Hey, UNLV might be what you’re looking for. You wanna play D1 college football on the national stage and live in a city where distractions are limited to keep your big ass out of jail? You might wanna consider Oregon. Make up your damn mind before a scholarship is wasted on your dumb ass.

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  • Guest

    Thank you for the recruiting recap. Please keep them coming as NSD approaches!

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Oregon can sign a few of the monsters in the trenches on the defensive side of the ball. While it would stink to lose Springs, because he has a chance to come in and compete for playing time as a true freshman, I certainly couldn’t hold it against him if he decided to stay home and play football for the big local school. JuJu would be the cherry on top of the class.

  • akduck

    Brilliant summary. Dude wont be turning 21 until the same year he’ll be wanting to cash a 6 or 7 figure nfl paycheck. If he’s going to school for nightlife, then he probably does not have his priorities in order, and he should go elsewhere. If he wants to get the best training opportunity and the best opportunity get on the field soon, and have an impact in a big-time program, he’ll be coming to Eugene.

  • Guest

    Various sites are reporting that Rika Levi has canceled his trip to Eugene this weekend. If that’s true, then Oregon’s chances don’t look good to land the big fella. Our coaches may have waited too long to offer….

  • tonyln69

    agree, waited to long, this seems to be a trend doesn’t it. I just hope we can hold this class together a few more days

  • MAITAIDUCK

    DBs don’t win BATTLE’S against O Lineman and I could care less about that part of the recruits were getting and we lost 3 DBs and their replacements will be as good if not better, but I will get back to this fact Oregon Coachs knew they had to replace 4 D Lineman and again have fallen way short at winning a National Title and It seems like this Staff is fine with not getting it done or the Admin. So this is sailing Marcus and IFO short since they both gave up 1st round Draft status and you know Marcus had a real good shot as the 1st pick in the Draft. Oregon is always predicted by the SO CALLED EXPERT’S to be in a good spot to win the NATTY, but they don’t have the BEEF to stop the RUN and this Offense better be 50% better next year and they better outscore Stanford and UCLA the same way they do everyone else or this will be a wasted season and then all bets are off for this Team because the recruits will then look at this Coaching staff as not being able to seal the deal for winning the BIG GAME’s. I just don’t get it, all the Money that’s been spent and the Innovation to get where they are took BLOW it every year at the Interior D Lineman. I’d much rather have those 3 D Lineman over Juju, unless of coarse he can play D Line. Both the DTs that were supposed to visit now are not coming. Whats up with that?

    • Jim

      Is there a comma or a pause in this anywhere? Feels like a rant of facts and opinions we’ve seen a million times. Thanks for not offering anything new. Gee, Oregon can’t compete for 320 lb. boys in the South whose mommas are 50 miles away. Oregon must be just not thinking about how to solve that!!

      As for you WAY SHORT. This is how we know you’re a troll. Field goal as time expires. Oh yeah, way short. Grow up.

      • FishDuck

        OK…..Maitai COULD break things up into paragraphs for easier reading, and he does have some run-on sentences. But we are not that picky with those who comment as we value their opinion. Matai is NOT a troll, as he is one of the most active readers/commenters on the site.

        Let’s disagree with posters, but not insult each other. There is no reason for it as this site will not degenerate into the stuff I’ve seen on other sites. State your reasons for your different opinion and let’s have a good exchange among fellow duck fans!

        I “heart” Maitai….

        • Jim

          Fair enough. Yet it’s the same rant over and over. This time with factual errors and without anything new. Oregon falls way short going for the nation title every time? Wrong. A field goal as time expires. See, there’s actual proof and facts. Not random emotion from someone who isn’t forming a sentence anytime soon.

          As far as the ‘BEEF’ to stop the run? Again, he offers zero analysis, or, maybe understanding of what happened this year. It’s easy to just yell and scream. Harder to offer up something of value. Most recently for example Aliotti HAD BEEF AND REFUSED TO USE IT! (See, I can use all caps too.) And then he admitted it. I’m sad to see his energy and loyalty go, but his stubbornness and arrogance and ‘fear’ of using the heavy package or doing something different, personally I’m glad are gone. Against both Stanford and Arizona his defense offered few if any adjustments up front. They HAD 6 GUYS AROUND 290 lbs. plus… And didn’t use more than 3 at a time. All while knowing they didn’t have the big linebackers to stuff the run. Arrogant? Maybe that’s harsh. Bad coaching decisions? Absolutely. Even Aliotti admitted it. They actually recruited enough big guys to stuff the run this past year, then refused to play more than 3 at a time. Gee, we all know what’s coming from Stanford and Arizona without a 6 figure salary to coach. Yet one guy refused to make any pregame or in game adjustments to match up to it. That’s not a recruiting issue.

          • FishDuck

            Hey Jim–you are right, about that part of not using our beef, as it is a real thorn with me. They had 12 months to prepare from the last time they played….and THAT was the best defensive game-plan they could offer?

            On one hand I am excited to see what new DC Pellum will do, as it will add to the drama and interest of the season. Yet we as fans suffered as both Helfrich and Frost went through their learning curve as newbies in their positions this last year.

            Will the same happen with Pellum?

          • Jim

            I don’t think so. At least, not as much. There’s almost no doubt that NA benefited tremendously from Coach Azz. They were tougher and more organized IMO. They also didn’t flinch, freeze, or whatever else you want to call it against Stanford or other teams. They made adjustments. NA was a phenomenal Duck. An incredible recruiter. And maybe an even better person. But as an in game guy? Not great. IMO.