Oregon’s 2015 recruiting class just got its first five-star recruit, according to ESPN and Scout.com, and it didn’t even take a flipped prospect or a new commitment. Punahou School Defensive End and Oregon verbal commit Canton Kaumatule picked up his fifth star last Wednesday, making him officially the best prospect in the Ducks’ current class. Kaumatule’s physical tools were impossible to argue (the kid is listed at 6’6, 280 lbs), and it’s probable that his relatively long history of injuries is what had kept his status somewhat below blue-chip.
The Honolulu native tore a labrum before the 2013 season, played through it and a pulled hamstring later in the year, and was rewarded with a minor patellar tear in the playoffs. He has showed a consistency and poise in his senior campaign, however, which pushed him over the top of the four-star pool and into the top fifth of ESPN’s Top 100. Throughout his career, injured or not, Kaumatule showcased an extraordinary work ethic to go along with his excellent hands and quick feet, and analysts believe he will only continue to improve as the kid grows into his already man-sized frame.
As a team, Oregon has often been remarkably low on the recruiting ladder, considering the program’s success, and that trend appeared to be continuing this year. But the team has begun cultivating some respect in important regions. At least one other notable Duck, now sadly grown and flying away to the draft, made his high school name in Honolulu. Landing Kaumatule originally, though, was a two-fold victory, the Ducks brought another No. 1 Hawaiian recruit into the fold, and they took a very good prospect away from Canton’s original school of choice, his brother Luke Kaumatule’s alma mater: Stanford.
And he isn’t the first. Three of Oregon’s seven four-star prospects come from California, a talent-rich and hotly contested recruiting area in the backyard of both the storied USC Trojans and a powerful Stanford program with the advantage of an academic tradition that rivals the Ivy League.
The Ducks may not have brought home the College Football Playoff National Championship title this year, but it’s only the first one. We are beginning to reel in more and more raw talent, and if the system can produce the kind of results we’ve seen this year from what we’ve got, the program may have something in common with Canton Kaumatule already: our best days are yet to come.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline