Coach Mark Helfrich pulled the curtain aside for just a moment recently to let Oregon fans get a glimpse of some of the deeper recruiting strategies implemented by Oregon football. We know how Chip Kelly began a much more intense ‘vetting process’ when he became HC, but it has become apparent that Mark Helfrich has stepped it up even further. He gave us some hints at the Recruiting Luncheon in Eugene – on February 5, National LOI day – which allows us to ponder and speculate the impact upon recruiting in the years ahead.
“Oregon did NOT make enough offers to potential recruits!”
The “Web Wackos” are out and busy again on the Duck football message boards, as they advise us on the direction recruiting should take. Many of us are aware of the complex sorting that the staff completes before offering a scholarship, hence by definition there will not be many offered after the sifting takes place.
One aspect that is often forgotten is the input from our current players based on the visit from the recruit. More than once the suggestion was given to the coaches to “pass” on a particular player due to lifestyle or an attitude that is incompatible with the team.
It was rumored recently that a four-star prospect dropped in the eyes of our coaching staff when he did not convey a dedication to working hard and improving his craft. “The recruits are here to sell us as much as we want to sell them,” commented the Head Coach at the recruiting event.
Coach Helfrich revealed an “eight-step” filtering process that has nothing to do with football, and it got me thinking further about these new strategic components when he commented that 19 of the 23 recruits were team captains, with many being captains in more than one sport!
When you add the number of high GPAs among this class and the great families that so many recruits grew up with, a pattern of character and leadership emerges. In particular I’m guessing that leadership is one of the huge intangibles that Coach Helfrich is carefully measuring and looking for.
We have observed teams at Oregon that seemed to have talent in a particular position group, but they seemed to underperform when compared to the assumed talent. Often the coaches have explained how leadership among the players can be AS important as talent, hence the impact upon winning on the field.
When that many recruits were team leaders on their high school team, it is evident that this particular intangible is heavily weighted in the Oregon recruiting formula. When you have team leaders in nearly every class? You will have upperclassmen in a position group leading the young guns and underclassmen, who will rise to leadership as they grow into juniors and seniors.
Coach Helfrich is known to have an impressive intellect, and he certainly has my admiration because he studied the essential intangible components of winning and then created a filtering process to ascertain which potential recruits for Oregon possess these key winning traits.
Since it is easier to find those who practice these components than to teach them later, this recruiting filter of abstract principles could have as significant and innovative an impact as Mike Bellotti bringing the Spread Offense to Oregon, or Chip Kelly ramping up the “No-Huddle” attack with the Ducks! Could this recruiting class be MUCH better than the physical stats on paper?
It will be great entertainment to watch this class unfold over the next five years and test the intangibles hypothesis!
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Oregon Football Analyst for EugeneDailyNews.com/FishDuck.com
(Top photo is an interview with Oregon Recruit Henry Mondeaux on Video)