Oregon’s No. 2 Ranking … and What It Means For Recruiting

Fans celebrate another "Touchdown" during the Wyoming game

It’s still too early in the college football season to know the future of the Ducks, but all the same, it’s exciting they have a chance to be in the top four reaching the playoffs each week. But for Oregon, that isn’t the only thing to look forward to, and the increasingly positive rankings could have even better side-effects. This could be a very special season on the field and on NLI day – the first Wednesday in February.

So far, Oregon has the most impressive win of the season, beating then-No. 7 Michigan State Spartans with authority. I have equal respect for Michigan State as I do Oregon, especially after looking through the past 10 years of national recruiting rankings. Scout.com is a solid basis for this information.

Defense is the recruiting focus from here on out

Kevin Cline

Defense is the recruiting focus from here on out.

Michigan State is a great team and very well coached. It has to be, because you do not typically find the Spartans ranking in the Top 25 recruiting classes, or stealing the big-time talent away from their rival, Michigan. In fact, Sparty has hit the Top 25 one time since 2005; that was the 2014 class at No. 19.

The other nine years, Michigan State averaged about 41st in national rankings. The coaches have done more with less and can coach up the recruits.

Oregon is similar in the ability to improve recruits averaging at 22 in national rankings. It’s incredible Oregon has done so well with recruits not as highly touted as most of the SEC

Oregon has played in a couple of Rose Bowls and a national title match losing to an SEC school by only three points. Prior to the title game, the media didn’t give the Ducks a snowball’s chance to win that game. That changed.

I’m baffled when I look at a few of the SEC schools and their gaudy recruiting rankings over the last decade. Florida and Alabama have each had only three years ranked out of the Top 10. Alabama has been in the upper seven since 2007. Then there’s LSU, which hasn’t finished signing day worse than 10th nationally since 2005. How do these teams lose to anyone but each other?

Enoch Lai/Wikipedia

Will Muschamp should have remained a defensive coordinator, not Florida’s head coach.

But some things have changed. Florida had a horrendous year in 2013, going 4-8 and not reaching a bowl game since the Revolutionary War.

Sure, the Gators had many starters out with injuries, but even the backups could have been starters for a hundred other schools. It wasn’t embarrassing enough to lose to Vanderbilt, but Florida lost to Georgia Southern — at home. Ouch!

And based on scouting rankings each year, Alabama and LSU should never lose a game — unless it’s against one another. LSU should never lose to Mississippi.

It’s one thing for Alabama to lose in a tight one in the Iron Bowl against hated rival Auburn. It’s another to lose in the post-season and get the daunting SEC defense lit up by a redshirt freshman quarterback for Oklahoma. Only half of the last decade, Oklahoma ranked in the Top 10 nationally in recruiting. That’s inexplicable!

What does this mean for Oregon? Well, Oregon has overproduced and exceeded the expected outcomes over and over, based on annual recruiting rankings.

Is it the coaching staff? Is it the type of players? Can you really pin it down? I don’t know, but since the Ducks are the first team to reach 50 wins this decade, it would be hard to imagine how good they’d be if they landed some of those highly-touted platinum-tier targets.

The way Oregon is playing this year (with a huge win and inexhaustible energy), recruiting may continue its momentum toward a Top 10 class for 2015. With so many top recruits making Eugene their destination for one of their five official visits, it’s clear that Oregon is sneaking its way into recruiting elitism.

With that in mind, Oregon fans are seeing history in the making. It’s fuzzy now, but the national championship team may end up residing in the Pacific Northwest by January. That will be a statement to blue-chippers riding the fence, seeing if Oregon will help their NFL chances. It will not be merely a signing day coup such as De’Anthony Thomas. It will be a race to get the last few spots that Oregon has room for. Who will they be?

I will use my ranking system found here to express the talent level the Ducks can anticipate quacking in the future. If the Stanford game sheds any light as to what recruits Oregon will be anticipating, the 2015 class will be great! With a list of about nine athletes as of now (which is likely to grow), only three of them are currently committed to the Ducks.

The others include: Silver-tier strong-side defensive end, Russell Ude, from Georgia; three gold-tier athletes, Canton Kaumatule (SDE from Hawaii), Kirk Merritt (wide receiver from Louisiana) and Adonis Thomas (outside linebacker from Georgia); and two platinum-tier prep stars, Keisean Lucier-South (weak-side defensive end from California) and Josh Sweat (WDE from Virginia).

Oregon is set on "winning the day"

Kevin Cline

Oregon is set on “Winning The Day.”

There are other football players talking about visiting Oregon this fall.  Kendall Sheffield (cornerback from Texas) is a platinum-tier athlete that has rumored to visit for the Stanford game, but has not confirmed with Duck Territory.

Additionally, a recent article on FishDuck.com by Mark Flores mentions interest from Neville Gallimore (defensive tackle from Ontario, Canada), whose 247 Sports‘ Crystal Ball projections are mostly for two other “O” schools (Ohio State 58 percent, and Oklahoma 37 percent). We’ll see if the relationship with DC Don Pellum grows.

Has it ever been this good at Oregon football? Yes. There have been a couple of special years in the past. However, this year seems different, without even mentioning Oregon’s improved rankings. Has recruiting with the Ducks ever been so exciting? Nope! Overall, these are some great days for Oregon fans!

Top photo by Craig Strobeck

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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.

  • hokieduck

    This year’s Stanford game could be one of the most important games of Oregon’s present, past and future. If the Ducks put the Tree behind them, especially if they do it in convincing fashion a la MSU, and get even half of the recruits visiting that week to commit, the future will be very bright indeed. And the present will be setting itself up for sure!

    Go Ducks. WTD.

  • cbask

    You’re forgetting Byron Cowart.