Recruiting Analysis: Buckle Up as National Signing Day Approaches Like a Blur
Coaches don’t get gray hair in November, they get it in January. This is the time of year, while most think college football has gone cold and dark, that coaches everywhere are making a frenzied final push to sign the best class they possibly can. This includes ensuring their class doesn’t suffer any losses, which is tough considering the number of recruiting vultures waiting in the shadows.
Coaches need to continue pursuing long-term targets who haven’t yet made a decision. They need to identify new prospects who inevitably emerge after coaching changes and other events. Then, they need to pursue THOSE targets as well.
Finally, they need to wait; wait for decisions over which they have no control. Hope that a teenager in whom they invested so much time, energy and money recruiting, will buy-in and sign on the dotted line. Wait and hope the gray doesn’t make them look too much older.
Nearly a month ago, I predicted that the Ducks would round out their class with Budda Baker, Jimmie Swain, Frank Iheanacho, Mattrell McGraw and Nick Gates.
Since then, Baker and Swain have committed to Oregon while Iheanacho joined a loaded Texas A&M class.
Meanwhile, McGraw and Gates still seem likely to end up Ducks, along with 300-pound defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao, who just de-committed from Texas on Tuesday.
During the month of January, though, nothing is guaranteed as recruiting resembles the organized chaos of a first-grader’s birthday party. The coming weeks are sure to be crazy.
Just thinking about all of the differing possibilities is dizzying. McGraw, who some believe is a silent Oregon commit, was just offered by Texas A&M and may visit. Who’s to say he won’t love it down in College Station?
Oregon’s main competition for Gates is also the Aggies, who’ve long been considered the front runners in his recruitment. Insiders may feel that both end up in lightning yellow and thunder green, but those predictions could change tomorrow.
After formally de-committing from Texas, most felt Lealaimatafao would be a lock for Oregon following his upcoming visit on January 17th. That is until rumors began swirling that he would use his fifth and final visit to check out USC, where Bo Davis, the defensive line coach who recruited Trey to Texas, just accepted the same position after the recent coaching shake-up in Austin. Oregon is still in a good spot, but things could change on a dime.
Look at Derick Roberson, the Texas commit who was thought to be accompanying Lealaimatafao on his upcoming Oregon visit. Being from San Antonio, like Lealaimatafao and Oregon commit Aarion Springs, it was easy to get excited about the possibility of a package deal; until word came out that Roberson loves the Charlie Strong hire and probably won’t be visiting anymore — unless he finally succumbs to Springs’ continued tweeting/recruiting and agrees to check out Eugene.
Then there’s wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie, also known as the “human joystick,” a 5-foot-9 jitterbug from Florida who looked great in the Under Armour All-American game. He received an Oregon offer shortly after and has since posted a couple of pro-Oregon tweets. It can’t hurt that he’s being contacted by Springs and LaMichael James on Twitter (the social-networking site that has become surprisingly instrumental in recruiting).
Who knows how his recruitment will play out; he’s been considered a strong Notre Dame lean for quite some time, but if he visits, you’ve got to like Oregon’s chances with the 4-star recruit (247 rating).
What’s this – another late offer? It’s been confirmed that 4-star defensive tackle Poona Ford, a Louisville commit, has also received an Oregon offer.
With Charlie Strong leaving, Ford has opened up his recruitment and actually contacted the Oregon staff directly. Word is that he wants to stay close to home, but he wouldn’t have contacted the Ducks if he wasn’t interested. And hey, this is January after all.
I’m telling you, crazy things happen in January, and from what I hear the coaches are fully expecting some craziness to ensue. Including when it comes to 5-star prospect John “JuJu” Smith who is currently considered a USC lock. Multiple sources close to the program inform me that Oregon’s coaches feel they’ve got a real shot at landing him. Smith signing with Oregon last minute and leaving Los Angeles would be a DAT-esque coup.
Expecting the unexpected may be cliche’ and illogical, but shoot, why not. Go ahead and do it. This is recruiting, it’s January, national signing day is less than a month away and the Ducks are still in the running for some serious talent. Embrace the craziness!
Top Photo by D.C. Photography
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