The recruiting wisdom of Mark Helfrich is becoming more evident as time goes on. Most recently comes the news that Hawaii defensive tackle, Ratu Mafileo, got his “eligibility” green light from the NCAA and can now attend and play football at UO. The nephew of former Oregon great, Haloti Ngata, sheds new light on a 2014 recruiting class that was already ranked in the top 25 nationally.
Mafileo’s addition has the potential of boosting Oregon’s class ranking into the top 20. Although Mafileo is rated 3-stars by 247Sports, his massive (now 6-foot-4, 325 pounds) presence definitely makes a statement to the rest of the college football world that Oregon is out to win, and not just with speed. How does this change the perception of Mark Helfrich’s performance in his first full recruiting cycle versus Chip Kelly? Are the two comparable?
Factoring in Oregon’s newest defensive tackle and his substantive bloodline, the 2014 recruiting class is now full and complete — with all its parts. Looking at the Ducks’ 2014 recruiting ranking, and adjusting for the additional points garnered from Mafileo, Oregon should creep up into the top 20. In order to objectively rate class strength we will use a proven tier (color) system based on the relative “score” of each recruit. These tiers will be represented by colors as outlined here:
Platinum = 5-star rating by any site (Rivals, 247Sports, Scout)
Gold = 4-star rating by two or more sites
Silver = 4-star rating by only one site
Bronze = 3-star rating by two or more sites
Green = 3-star rating by only one site
Yellow = No 3-star ratings
With Mafileo being rated 3-stars by only one recruiting site, he will calculate in as a green-talent athlete.
During this off-season, FishDuck’s Recruiting Analyst, yours truly, will be reporting on strategy every three weeks. If you love our beloved Ducks, and especially enjoy following football recruiting, then this series is for you. Just check these pages, and you’ll not only catch up on all things recruiting, but also learn how those recruits effect Oregon’s strategy.
Following the recruiting game can be a roller coaster ride of emotions, and I’ll be here to show you those amazing athletes that commit to Oregon, and contrast them with some of the stellar talent that slips away.
The direction I want to see Oregon go with recruiting isn’t far off from the concept of Matt Hinton in his article, “Star Power,” where he says that, for the most part, the talent ratings by the recruiting gurus and rating services, should, indeed, be trusted. There will always be exceptions, such as when a 5-star doesn’t quite fulfill his high expectations or an occasional 3-star will over-acheive and win the Heisman trophy — cue Johnny Manziel.
And now, the ‘Duh Factor’ — Oregon needs more quality 5-star athletes! And to this end, I see coach Helfrich stepping more and more into the talent-rich southern states and snagging some great talent from the grasp of SEC powerhouses. In recent years, Oregon has gotten the nation’s attention — Mark Helfrich’s Ducks are not going away like many suspected when Chip Kelly left.
To continue — I will speak to the direction that coach Helfrich took with the class of 2014, and examine, position by position, who and where he’ll be chasing, in the way of 2015 athletes.
This is like ordering a vehicle online and paying for the base-priced model, only to discover that it arrived with leather seats, entertainment system and a moon roof.
How cool is it that Mafileo worked his tail off getting his grades in order, just because he wanted to play football at the University of Oregon? Did defensive line coach Ron Aiken have an inkling of how this was going to come about?
Oregon has been needing more depth and a true 3-4 nose tackle to anchor the defensive line, much like in the days of Ngata. Considering the speed of Oregon’s remaining defense, a large powerful talent clogging up the middle gaps can help prevent a lot of long runs. The patience of Helfrich to hold out for Mafileo’s eligibility, will surely benefit the defense once he makes his official visit and signs his letter of intent, while still in Eugene. Even though he is green on the talent tier, the coaches saw something in Mafileo and he definitely fills a void at defensive tackle.
Looking back at Chip Kelly after stepping into his ‘predestined’ head coaching position in 2009, he finished that recruiting cycle outside the top-25, according to 247Sports, Scout — and one of my favorite stat guys, Phil Steele.
Helfrich stepped in — without fanfare – in 2013 and was able to retain the majority of Kelly’s recruits to keep Oregon in the top-20 nationally. (We will give coach Kelly credit for his 2nd class – in 2010 — which was ranked as high as 13th by 247Sports and Scout, but only 16th by Phil Steele.
I won’t judge coach Helfrich too harshly because he dropped a bit to 21st or 22nd, especially now that we see he’s about to sign one more necessary part of the class. This addition will likely rank the Ducks’ recruiting class at No. 19 nationally after the points are tallied and . Let me repeat that – this will likely put Oregon’s 2014 recruiting class in the top-20, as rated by both 247Sports and Scout.
I think I just felt the earth move with this discovery: Coach Helfrich’s aggressive recruiting style will show up on the first Wednesday in February – and we will see a nice jump in the rankings — book it.
Top photo by en.wikipedia.org