Oregon Football Recruiting Analysis: Best Recruiting Class Yet?
It was brought to my attention when cornerback James Locke and quarterback Travis Waller both committed to Oregon on July 1 of this year, that the Ducks reached a new recruiting standard. Recent history has proven that Oregon has not been really aggressive with getting verbal commitments early in the recruiting process. Going back as far as 2002 and probably beyond, Oregon football has never had more than seven verbal commitments by July 1 of any given recruiting cycle. The class of 2015 hit 11 commitments by that very same date!
Having those 11 commitments this early in the recruiting process speaks volumes of the emphasis Coach Mark Helfrich has put into incoming talent. Top talent is now getting early attention from what the athletes have described as a top school. And as Oregon prepares for a stellar season, there’s also a group of potential recruits who could add some solid talent.
Currently, Oregon has 12 commitments for the class of 2015, which is a feat in itself for any school at this stage of recruiting. However, Oregon typically does its best recruiting during the fall when most official visits are made to Eugene.
If Oregon has 12 verbals now and fall isn’t yet here, then high school seniors might notice a scramble to make sure they will be a part of the future of Oregon football. While the Ducks look forward to the future, several prospects could become valuable players on the team.
Hopeful Addition: Bryon Cowart
A popular defensive end that hasn’t committed yet is Byron Cowart, from Florida. Cowart has two schools at the top of his list: Florida and Oregon. Many say that Oregon is too far away and doesn’t have much of a chance to snag this talented young man. I say that Cowart is smart enough to see that the Florida program is struggling since the departure of Urban Meyer.
Coach Will Muschamp has found himself on the hot seat list by many writers this spring. Cowart may have figured out that Muschamp came into an ideal situation with mega-talent all over the field from the amazing recruiting done by Meyer, leaving the cupboards fully stocked. However, Muschamp hasn’t been able to do much with all of that talent.
Those that pay attention might foresee Cowart committing to Muschamp, only to witness a brand new coach the following year. That’s a big gamble to take for an 18-year-old. Cowart will hopefully make the wise decision and go with a more consistent program in the Oregon Ducks. Florida will not be in the running for a title for many years to come, which only fuels recruiting in Tuscaloosa and the rest of the SEC. (This brings another question to mind — how did Alabama lose two consecutive games to end last season?)
But Cowart isn’t the only prospect fans and players alike would like to see join the Ducks. I derived a list from 247Sports.com, took information from Duck Territory, and came up with my own recruiting wish list.
With 12 current commitments, the Ducks have room for roughly 10 more athletes. Oregon will most likely spend two of those spots on offensive players. Helfrich might want one more quarterback, and hopefully Jarett Stidham drops Texas Tech and decides Oregon is a better fit. Also, another wide receiver to join the great Alex Ofodile is in the works with the hopes of picking up Ryan Newsome, Jaelen Austin, Ykili Ross or the long shot, Tyron Johnson.
The rest of this list focuses on the defensive side of the ball. A Cowart and Josh Sweat combo at ends makes all Duck fans froth at the mouth a bit just thinking about the possibilities. These two alone would set up for future Stanford shutdowns. Who wouldn’t love to see that?
Another popular player would be Rasheem Green at defensive tackle. This is not only a position of need, but Green’s large form would make an immediate impact on the middle with his athleticism and strength to help dominate the over-hyped Trojan linemen.
Next, a couple linebackers such as Malik Jefferson and Cassius Peat would have prospective talent. Great sideline to sideline movement from these two beasts would help the defensive backs from being forced into so many tackles in the future. This would allow the cornerbacks and safeties to lock down and focus more on their assignments. Speaking of cornerbacks, Donte Jackson makes the list with his quickness and knack for the ball.
Finally, to round off the 10 slots, Terry Beckner Jr. and Gus Cumberlander, both at the end position, give some depth and options. Beckner is difficult to follow with his favorite school, but Cumberlander is pretty high on Oregon and more likely to commit.
Helfrich would probably make room for a couple other athletes: Marvell Tell and DeChaun Holiday at safety, Iman Marshall at cornerback and CeCe Jefferson at defensive end. (Jefferson doesn’t have an offer from Oregon yet, but seems close to Cowart.) Those four athletes may be too much talent to pass up if one or more decided to choose the Ducks.
Looking to the Future
As an Oregon fan, I love to see so much interest in the football program. There are also other athletes that I would love Oregon to get if there was room, strictly based on their high level of interest in the program.
That might be possible with one more spot available following the departure of linebacker Rahim Cassell. But no matter how the class is filled, Oregon shouldn’t go wrong with this list.
Just remember, the earliest Oregon has ever received 11 verbal commitments in the past was October 1, 2006. This happened to be one of two years that by July 1 of that recruiting cycle, Oregon had the most commitments with seven — until this year, that is. Can’t wait to heat things up in the fall!
Top photo credit by Kevin Cline