Oregon Football Recruiting Analysis: I Need a Hero

With nine months left until the football players of the class of 2015 sign with their designated programs throughout the nation, Oregon is poised to step up their recruiting game another notch.  This is the year that the Ducks must sign the most highly touted talent in the history of the program.  With the recent verbal commitment from the top all-purpose back, Taj Griffin, the foundation of this class is established.  Now that Oregon has the platinum-talent, Georgia-native running back, the Ducks can focus on a premium quarterback.  The future offensive general to replace Marcus Mariota may be a key position for Coach Helfriech to aim his sights on and build a top-10 recruiting class.

Losing De'Anthony is tough, but a verbal from Taj Griffin makes it tolerable

Kevin Cline

Losing De’Anthony is tough, but a verbal from Taj Griffin makes it tolerable.

A few days ago, I was attempting to run the family dog while listening to my favorite playlist on my phone.  My snail’s pace was boosted a bit by a particular song that I had cranked up, which began filling my head.

The beat, the lyrics, the rhythm, the melody, the voice, the 80’s.  Some of the most inspirational music can be found in my 80’s library of mega-hits.

This specific song by Bonnie Tyler put my legs into auto pilot, but had my mind wandering to the green turf of Autzen Stadium.  ”Holding Out For a Hero” had me mesmerized with thoughts of the Oregon Ducks and the need for a stellar recruiting class.

“He’s gotta be strong, and he’s gotta be fast, and he’s gotta be fresh from the fight, I need a hero,” describes exactly what Duck football fans are asking for with the likes of Griffin as the newest member of strength and speed.  How many players on the Oregon roster can be described this way?  How many future recruits finding themselves in Eugene will be summed up in a powerful, lyrical package such as the one Tyler belted out as only she can?

Will one of the heroes be Mariota’s future replacement with the likes of Kyler Murray from Allen, Texas?  The dual-threat signal caller is unanimously a top-five quarterback in the nation who has Texas A&M at the top of his list, but may be swayed toward Oregon and their high-octane offense that fits Murray’s style perfectly.  His recent, unofficial visit to Eugene may have been the answer he needed to make an informed decision.

Murray is an elite quarterback at the high school level and viewed as a dual-threat.  In his junior year he threw for more than 3,600 yards and 46 touchdowns — not unlike an NFL QB – and he also ran for over 1,200 yards and 19 more scores like a true running back.  If he matches those numbers his senior year, he’ll have nearly 10,000 passing yards and 100 TD’s in his high school career.

Oh wait!  He can run too!  He will push 4,000 rushing yards and 70 touchdowns on the ground in three years starting by merely matching his junior stats, as a senior.  He has great pocket presence, accuracy and decision-making.  His only draw-back could be his size at 5-foot-11-inches and 170 pounds.  He can still fill out his frame during his final year of high school and eventually get the best trainers at Oregon to bulk him up, if necessary.

Kyle Allen will keep Kyler Murray from starting in "Aggieland"


Kyle Allen will keep Kyler Murray from starting in “Aggieland.”

Let me be the first to discourage Murray on becoming an Aggie.  Let’s look at the competition at Texas A&M compared to Oregon.  A&M lost Johnny Manziel this offseason; however, there are several backups that were chomping at the bit in eagerness for him to leave.

The 2012 class brought in Matt Davis who transferred to Tyler Junior College when he felt uneasy about backing up Manziel for the 2013 season.  There were two signal callers in 2013 brought to play at the home of the 12th man – former Texas player of the year, Kenny Hill, and arguably the runner-up, Kohl Stewart.  Last signing day, Texas A&M was able to steal away the unanimous 5-star QB, Kyle Allen, from Arizona and the rest of the Pac-12.  With Allen’s obvious skill set, he wasn’t brought to College Station, Texas, to be a back up.  He will start very early in his career as an Aggie and not relinquish his starting duties until he gets injured or goes to the NFL.

Murray will be only one year behind Allen and wouldn’t seem likely to start in Allen’s second year.  Murray will probably need to redshirt and get the opportunity to finally start with only one or maybe two years of eligibility remaining.  That doesn’t sound like much fun for someone who’s potential at the next level could earn him a starting position in his first or second year in a solid program.

Now, the number of Oregon’s quarterbacks on scholarship don’t immediately match the elite talent that Texas A&M will have.  Mariota will no longer be there but two third-year guys will be involved with the starting competition with Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie.

Damion Hobbs came in a year later who flipped to Oregon from Arkansas State.  Hobbs was recruited as a “green talent” at best and in no way at the same level as Rodrigues or Lockie.  Last letter of intent day the Ducks were able to land a potential future starter in Morgan Mahalak as a highly-touted dual threat QB.  Mahalak, however, doesn’t have the elite talent to step into the complex offense of Oregon and start right away.

We will see Rodrigues and Lockie as early favorites in the fall of 2015 as the starting competition heats up.  Oregon does not currently have a “platinum-level talent” player at the quarterback position which makes it more likely for some young blue-chip to walk right in and give the experienced guys a serious run for their money.

How many 2015 heroes will wear a helmet like this?

Kevin Cline

How many 2015 heroes will wear a helmet like this?

Murray already has a state championship under his belt as a young starter and with his continued growth and understanding of the game, could come into Oregon’s program and help find another championship at the highest collegiate level.

So, Murray could be that “hero” the Duck fans have been frothing at the mouth over, to claim that elusive title.  Until Murray commits to his preferred football team, Oregon fans will have Bonnie Tyler echoing in their heads, “Holding Out For a Hero.”

Top Photo by twaytalks.com

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Jason Fowler

Jason Fowler

Jason, born and raised in central Oregon, first noticed college football when his older brother attended the University of Oregon. Jason studied English at Southern Oregon University and enjoyed cheering for the school’s team, but longed for that major college game-day experience. That desire slowly blossomed into a fanatical passion for the national feel of college football, especially defending the Pac-12 while challenging conferences like the SEC to step up. He has spent five years expounding on the differences between the two conferences on his blog, buzzbrother2-pac10football.blogspot.com, set up solely for that purpose. Following the Ducks' recruiting progress in the off-season has made college football a year-round hobby for him. He now resides in Spokane, Washington with his incredibly patient, non-football-fan wife and three children, and works as an MRI Technologist. He can be reached at buzzbrother2@msn.com.

  • cfluegge

    Nice take, Jason. But perhaps you overstate the need for a quarterback that the recruiting services shower with stars. Lets not forget that in recent years Oregon has gone to a Rose Bowl with Jermiah Masoli and played for a national championship then won a Rose Bowl with Darron Thomas. Neither of those quarterbacks possess NFL talent. I think Thomas may have been a 4-star with some good offers. My point is, don’t bet against the Q.B.s on Oregon’s roster that have signed in the last couple years. My money is on one (or two) of them being more than capable of running the Oregon system. Don’t lose any sleep over Oregon making a splash signing at Q.B. We’re going to be fine. More than fine.

  • DuckLove

    And to add, Murray is a good QB but he is not “platinum” and is to little. Morgan and Hobbs both have what it takes to be elite. I’m not sold on this kid and the 2016 class is showing a lot of studs that are more suited to be the post Mariota superstar.

  • JohnnyHeisman

    We’ll put the rubber duckies out of their misery on Monday. Later rain-soaked birds!

  • allenfanforlife

    I live in Allen and have enjoyed watching Kyler for the past two years. Disregard his height. He is faster and more accurate than Johnny football and lights up the best competition that Texas has to offer. This kid is a Heisman trophy winner in waiting. Oregon would be lucky to get him but I hope the Longhorns are able to sneak in and grab. Check out his Youtube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9RO_Q80w6s if you haven’t at the opportunity to see him person. He is a winner. Back to back 5A state championships and hasn’t lost a game as a starter at Allen.

  • hooverli

    Your analysis of Morgan Mahalak makes me wonder what you wrote (or would have written) about Marcus Mariota back in 2011.

  • Raymond Law

    Great write up as usual Jason. The QB recruiting this year seems to be a bit of a let down. With a miss now on White I am hoping we don’t wait too long on Waller. He has a high ceiling and with the tutelage of Frost and Helfrich could end up being a steal due to his limited experience and exposure at QB. Regardless I think we hit a grand slam with Griffin. The highest ranking Oregon recruit East of Texas in Oregon History!

  • Chris Andres

    “Mahalak, however, doesn’t have the elite talent to step into the complex offense of Oregon and start right away.”

    No one thought Mariota had that either. And their trajectories in High School are very comparable to each other.

  • Mark Gilbert

    would love to get Murray out of Texas,,, but if we dont,, and I dont find him as being to small,, but if we dont,,, Oregon has more than a couple of guys that could fill in nicely,, very seldom does Oregon ever get what is considered to be a 4or 5 star QB and yet has had alot of success with their system and winning many games,,, I still like this kid mahalak alot and think he would do very well in Oregon’s system