Oregon Football Recruiting Analysis: Closing Out the 2015 Class

"Quack"

With limited official visits Coach Mark Helfrich is making the most with what he’s got, but is running out of time. The Ducks may have three more commitments available for this 2015 recruiting cycle after getting two commitments in the last week.  Signing day is February 4th and that leaves little time for Coach Helfrich and staff to attempt to snag those high-profile guys from schools that may have the inside track to their signatures.

Coach Helfrich has been busy with in-home visits

Kevin Cline

Coach Helfrich has been busy with in-home visits

Tops on the list is 5-star cornerback Iman Marshall from Long Beach, CA. Even though he hasn’t taken an official visit to USC, he is perceived as a Trojan lean. Coach Helrich plans to make an in-home visit with him roughly a week before signing day. Marshall would give Oregon its second 5-star recruit in this class.  However, I don’t expect him to sign unless he visits this weekend and pulls a “DeAnthony Thomas” type of surprise.

Three 4-star recruits still on the board have already taken official visits. Guard Semisi Uluave from Hawaii would bring a large presence to the O-line in two years after completing his Mormon mission. Louisiana native Kirk Merritt was last summer’s SPARQ champion who would most likely play slot receiver at Oregon.  However, don’t be surprised if he carries a few from the backfield. Finally, Coach Helfrich is making an in-home visit this week with Gardena, CA linebacker John Houston. Houston has the size and run-stuffing ability the Ducks need to improve their defense.

The incoming class is something to get excited about

Gary Breedlove

The incoming class is something to get excited about

Uluave was nearly an UCLA lock a few months ago, but has not lost tabs with Oregon and Texas Tech. Merritt is quiet and not letting the media in on very much. Is he a silent commit? Texas A&M seems to be the biggest challenge to Oregon for getting his services in the fall. His decision will come on signing day. Houston is a huge USC lean still and not likely to “quack” unless he enjoys the DAT drama.

Some recruits are more difficult to analyze because they are committed to other universities. Ykili Ross is an USC commit, but is scheduled to visit Oregon January 30. His skill on both sides of the ball is valuable, but I don’t expect him to actually visit. Joshua McMillon is a linebacker committed to Alabama who received a visit from the Oregon coaches, but nothing has evolved since. Lastly, linebacker Josh Smith out of Tennessee is verballed to Vanderbilt. Much like Houston, Smith has the size, speed and run-stuffing ability to slow an opponent’s run game. Oregon would love to see Smith take his visit to Eugene, but Smith’s recruitment seems to have lost steam.

Another 4-star stud is Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. Hailing from Buffalo, NY, Wheatley has the size and frame to play tight end or defensive end. He is an offensive weapon that would give defensive coordinators fits as a tight end. However, his speed off the edge would be dangerous against Pac-12 offenses as well. His visit is scheduled for the 30th, however, Wheatley will most likely not realize his potential at Oregon and will take his talents elsewhere.

There is a lot to cheer about with this recruiting class

Kevin Cline

There is a lot to cheer about with this recruiting class

Not much has been said about the recruitment of a certain San Gorgonio defensive back in California. Three star Nathan Meadors has not scheduled a visit to Oregon, and if he doesn’t, it appears UCLA will take him. Speaking of UCLA, another committed player, Josh Woods, has been discussed as a possible official visitor. Again, if this visit doesn’t transpire, he will remain a Bruin.

3-star outside linebacker Jonah Moi of Riverside Community College is committed to WSU. He’s got great size and seems eager to continue developing. Moi may consider flipping his commitment from the Cougars after receiving an in-home visit from the Oregon coaches recently.

One 2015 prospect visited Eugene this past weekend: massive 6’7″, 330 lb. offensive tackle Darrin Paulo. I really hope he enjoyed his visit because even with the large number of offensive linemen Oregon is taking this cycle, his size and skills would be difficult to pass up. Paulo has to make the difficult choice between Oregon and Washington State, where his brother is currently attending.

Baker gave Oregon their 21st commitment

247sports.com

Baker gave Oregon their 21st commitment

Some lesser known players Oregon has found may be those diamond-in-the-rough type finds that keep the Ducks on top. After his in-home visit, Steilacoom, WA, linebacker Fotu Leiato committed to Oregon. Leiato’s highlight reel on hudl.com has become one of the most viewed highlight sensations this recruiting season. He is set to visit on the 30th along with another player who “quacked” after an in-home visit: Gary Baker, a defensive tackle from Upland, CA. Oregon was a dream offer for him and he jumped at the opportunity when he got it.

Several prospects have crossed Oregon off their list. Jake Pickard did not make his visit because he committed to Wisconsin. Bryce Sterk’s interest in the Ducks diminished after committing to Washington. Daishon Neal recently ended his recruitment and canceled all future visits. Finally, there have been no updates for Tennessee commit Justin Martin. I am certain that these prospects can be deleted from our radars.

Merritt is an electrifying athlete that the Ducks would love to pull in

247sports.com

Merritt is an electrifying athlete the Ducks would love to pull in

I feel confident that Oregon will keep all the committed players through signing day and land up to three more. The three I like Oregon pulling in are Merritt, Paulo and Moi. If Marshall, Houston, Smith, Uluave, Wheatley or Kyler Murray faxed their LOI on signing day, Oregon would certainly make room. Those are special players at important positions.

Finally, the 2016 recruiting class may be something to watch in the upcoming months. The Ducks have some momentum from the College Football Playoff that will translate into reeling in some special talents who have grown up watching Oregon win 10 games or more the last eight seasons.

Follow me on Twitter: @buzzbrother2

Top photo by Kevin Cline

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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.

  • Brian Libby

    Several of my Duck fan friends who follow recruiting tell me that this is shaping up to be an excellent class. But so far I’m quite disappointed that we haven’t been able to sign more 4 and 5-star players or bring our per-recruit average up to any better than 21st in the country. If we can’t land the top blue-chip players after garnering the most wins of any team this decade, and after winning a Heisman and a Rose Bowl and getting to the natty, when will we?

    • ptownelite

      Never, location will always kill us. UCLA gets stomped by us every year but still wins most recruiting battles due to being in LA. Marcus Mariota was only a three star guy though.

      • hokieduck

        The Ducks have the #2 recruiting class in the Pac12 behind, yes, USC. But not UCLA.

        Add to that, that the “rankings” are greatly impacted by the raw number of recruits signed. Oregon will never get a super high ranking because they do take scholarships away and offer them to the next class.

      • Mark Gilbert

        Did you know Espn had Mariota as a 2 star recruit? Fyi

    • angryduck

      It’s an average class for us. We’ll be 16th or 15th in the team rankings about where we have been recently top 20 but not really close to top 10. Missing out on all the big signing day players. Most likely land Merritt, moi, Paulo. Uluave would be a pleasant surprise but a surprise .

    • hokieduck

      We will see the bump from this season next year and after. Kids have already forged relationships with staffs over the last year or even longer when you are talking about some of the bigger names who have been targeted for years.

      I have zero interest in Iman Marshall. Semisi Uluave, Kirk Merritt and either Houston or Smith at inside backer would be tremendous gets. Moi, Paulo or Wheatley would make the class terrific, as well.

      • Mark Gilbert

        I’m with you, Id take those guys over just getting Marshall any day,, Oregons ability to coach players up is as good as any body in the nation,

  • Anthony Joseph Gomes

    no way in hell marshall becomes a duck. i dont see what the big deal is with him anyway. he doesnt have good hands for one thing…he isnt bad but im not losing any sleep over it if he goes to USC.

  • William Brasky

    Why no talk of Rasheem Green?

  • Dave Allen

    I wish people would stop sweating this whole 4 and 5 star issue. There is not one starter in the Super Bowl who was a 5 star coming out of high school. Coaching is everything. In the mid 2000s our highest pick was a 3 star @ #155. Now were complaining because we only have #15 overall. I trust the coaching staff because they know how to get the most out of these lower rated players!