While the 2014 college football season has just begun, this time also marks the second half of the recruiting season. This is the time of year that recruiting really heats up and high school seniors take their official visits to schools of interest. Oregon historically does its best recruiting during the football season after having its best recruiting preseason ever. So, which athletes are planning to make the trip and knock on the Ducks’ door this fall?
There are two games on the Oregon schedule for the 2014-15 season that really draw peak interest. Interest from fans, media and, yes, the high school recruits. This early on, most of the official visits scheduled to visit Oregon have been set for one of these two dates.
The earliest is Oregon’s next game, September 6, against Michigan State, where the Ducks will host a fluctuating number of athletes. Three of these are committed to the Oregon program at this time, which include: Brady Aiello (bronze-tier offensive tackle) from California, PJ Locke (bronze-tier safety) from Texas and Calvin Throckmorton (bronze-tier OT) from Washington.
The visit from the committed players should only solidify their standing as future Ducks and help convince the others that they should commit, too. It’s the other recruits that Oregon may benefit from when they show up on campus to watch the top non-conference game of the season, when two top 10 powers collide in Autzen Stadium.
According to Justin Hopkins with Duck Territory, the names of the visitors are changing quickly. At the time of writing this, Ryan Newsome (gold-tier wide receiver) from Texas and Cassius Peat (borderline silver/gold-tier outside linebacker) from Arizona will no longer make it to this game and may get rescheduled for a later match-up.
Hopkins also mentioned that Micah Abernathy (gold-tier cornerback) from Georgia was off, now on again, but without parents. The new names that were mentioned were Stanford commit, Rex Manu (bronze-tier defensive tackle) from Hawaii, Marvell Tell (gold-tier S) from California and a 2016 recruit from Minnesota, Seth Green (gold-tier quarterback).
Each of these visits is huge for how well the Ducks finish this recruiting year. Tell and Abernathy could contribute quickly next year with a veteran defensive backfield. Manu would be great by flipping from Stanford and giving Oregon a big body on the defensive line as a true tackle. The visit from Green is exciting to think about. If he commits this weekend, the Ducks have a great head start at improving over the 2015 class that has recently broke into the top 20 after the commit from Malik Lovette. This is really good stuff!
We are hoping this weekend will be as successful as week one against South Dakota, where Oregon hosted one athlete and Scout.com reported Lovette (gold-tier all-purpose back) from California committed, or quacked, the day of the game.
If so, the probability that Abernathy, Green or Tell may commit is very good, especially if the Ducks pull off the win. It will be tough to see Manu flip immediately, but obviously he is looking for a backup if grades don’t pan out with Stanford’s stringent academic requirements. Jaylinn Hawkins (gold-tier WR) from California was scheduled to visit the Ducks on August 30, but will possibly reschedule later.
But the best commits aren’t completely dependent on one game. Future trips that are planned by athletes to visit Eugene, Oregon, include Dylan Kane (bronze-tier S) from Hawaii on September 13 for the Wyoming game and Travis Waller (gold-tier QB) from California who is committed to the Ducks, on October 2 for the Arizona game. Two athletes will also visit on October 18 for the Washington game. Those will be Tevis Bartlett (bronze-tier OLB) from Wyoming and Drayton Carlberg (bronze-tier OT) from Minnesota.
Then the big conference game that Pac-12 fans hope to see — two undefeated powers going head-to-head – with Stanford has squeaking by the past two years. Oregon hopes to get revenge over the Cardinal to impress seven recruits and counting. Three of them have committed to Oregon in bronze-tier tight end, Jacob Breeland, from California, gold-tier WR, Alex Ofodile from Missouri and gold-tier offensive guard, Zach Okun, from California. This is the second of the two big weekends.
The remaining four visitors will include two gold-tier talents and highlight two platinum-tier blue chippers for the Stanford game. Ending that Halloween weekend with commitments from a number of those athletes will boost the recruiting ranking for the Ducks tremendously and push Oregon into the top 10 nationally. Those guys are (so far) Canton Kaumatule (gold-tier defensive end) from Hawaii, Keisean Lucier-South (platinum-tier DE) from California, Kirk Merritt (gold-tier WR) from Louisiana and highly-touted Josh Sweat (platinum-tier DE) from Virginia.
Even if only two of the defensive ends “quack” that weekend, Oregon will definitely push for their best recruiting season ever. Also, if Merritt commits that weekend, Oregon will most likely stop recruiting receivers with all the slots taken. Merritt seems to be their top choice right now, which is probably why Newsome has been rescheduled at a later, undisclosed date and will not likely reschedule Hawkins.
That leaves one currently scheduled visit left for Oregon. A local Oregon prep star, Cameron Scarlett (gold-tier running back), will stop by for the Colorado game November 22. Scarlett may find himself without an offensive spot with the Ducks by that time, which doesn’t bode well for the state’s top athlete. There is hope that the offense will be complete and the focus will be on the defensive side of the ball by mid-November.
Overall, the interest in Oregon has moved into uncharted territory with regards to high quality talent from across the nation. These are very exciting times for Duck fans! We must pay special attention to staying humble this year, because right now it’s easy to get spoiled with such talent flowing in. The uncommitted prospects that have set their official visits to Oregon are almost entirely gold-tier or better from a half-dozen states. So as the recruiting season revs up for another go, best of luck to the Ducks!
Top photo by Kevin Cline