What to Look for in the Days Leading to National Signing Day

Mark Helfrich 14, Arizona,14,KC

One of the biggest days in college football is right around the corner - National Signing Day. This year pinned on February 4th, the most highly touted players will make it official as to where they will be taking their talents for 2015-16. Schools have been vying for them for months, sometime even years for top recruits. In the case of the Oregon Ducks, who have been known to develop very low-ranked recruiting classes into top talent over their extended time in college, this year looks to be very interesting.

Offense

Obviously, the biggest hole to fill on offense is quarterback, handed down by the Hawaiian sensation himself - Marcus Mariota. With Eastern Washington’s Vernon Adams in the picture, nobody quite knows what to expect. Stiff competition for the starting job will be super athlete Travis Waller from Southern California. The Ducks have already locked down Taj GriffinAlex Ofodile and Zack Okun, who are all enrolled in classes here for Oregon’s winter term.

Freemans success hinges on the strength of the offensive line. Photo: David Pyles

Freemans success hinges on the strength of the offensive line.
Photo: David Pyles

While many people think quarterback is the biggest hole on offense, the true question mark is on the offensive line. Mariota stepped in having no experience and flourished in his time as quarterback, largely in part to his O-Line. Long-time starters Hroniss GrasuHamani Stevens, and Jake Fisher are now gone, so it pains many to think of who can fill in for those guys. Sure, the Ducks are returning many of their top producers on offense, but everything revolves around that O-Line. Will the Ducks be able to dominate the trenches on offense? We’ll have to wait to find out.

Defense

Who is going to step up in place of Erick Dargan? Photo: Kevin Cline

Who is going to step up in place of Erick Dargan?
Photo: Kevin Cline

The Ducks have landed arguably the best defensive player in this year’s class, in Canton Kaumatule. This freakish athlete from Hawaii has stepped into stardom over the past few months as scouts believe this guy has sure NFL talent. But Kaumatule can’t do it all by himself. Guys like Arik ArmsteadIfo-Ekpre-OlomuErick Dargan and Troy Hill are all vying to play at the next level. Many people worry about making up for all the players on defense who will not be returning next year.

Currently, the Ducks only have nine defensive commits for next season. That number is low, but it still depends on how you look at who they are. The Ducks do have key players coming back next year in players like Joe WalkerDanny Mattingly and DeForest Buckner. The stigma of being a ‘weak’ defense has been thrown around since literally getting ‘thrown around’ against Ohio State. Despite not looking good in their last outing, expect the Ducks to make a strong push on defense next year not only with those returning and but also with those coming in fresh.

Recap

At this point, the Ducks have the 15th best recruiting class in the nation according to oregon247sports. With five early enrollees, the Ducks have 16 more on their radar to sign come February 4th. Things change, but let’s hope all goes well for the Ducks; maybe they can sneak in a few surprise signees from other schools as well.

Everything you need to know from now leading up to National Signing Day will be covered here at FishDuck.com.

Top Photo by Kevin Cline

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Jason Selby

Jason Selby

Jason is a Junior at the University of Oregon, currently double majoring in Public Relations and Political Science. Jason has been an avid sports fan for his entire life, growing up playing Football, Basketball, and Baseball. Over the last year, Jason has found his love for sports reporting, and enjoys creating pieces that use his love and knowledge for sports to portray his message. In his spare time, Jason enjoys obsessing over Ducks sports, Scuba Diving around the world, and listening to music. Tweet at Jason…. @1seltank. He loves talking sports with other avid sports fans.

  • Anthony Joseph Gomes

    oregon contested the line of scrimmage well in that game on both sides of the ball in spite of what the national media said. mariota only got sacked twice and one of those “sacks” was a run where he lost a yard. whatever. the closest ohio state ever came to dominance by the defensive line was the cheap shot the officals allowed joey bosa to get away with on MM.

    • Jason Selby

      In pass blocking, we did well against a very strong defensive line. In run block, we got destroyed. We also couldn’t stop the run which never helps. We got outplayed in the trenches, and it showed. Granted, we were missing a lot of guys, but that is besides the point. We didn’t play well, but I know we can rebound next year. I am very excited to see this team come September. Thanks a lot for the read Anthony

      • Anthony Joseph Gomes

        elliot got 11 yards/carry against both alabama and wisconsin. he only got 6.8 against the ducks. thats still very good but oregon still could have won with that. 42 points was less than ohio states scoring average. it was the lack of scoring…the lack of wide receivers that lost them the game…if i knew ohio state would score 42 before the game and i didnt know what the ducks would score i would have bet on oregon….well before they lost carrington and allen anyway.

        • Jason Selby

          Anthony, you are right about that. Elliott carried the ball 20 times against Alabama, and 20 times against Wisconsin. He was much more efficient against them, but he was much more effective against the Ducks. They ran the ball 36 times, milked the clock, got timely first downs, etc. But like I keep saying, I am very confident in the guys we have coming in for O-LIne and D-Line next year. We are stacked all over the board. If we can be more physical on defense, and create opportunities on the line, nothing will stop the Ducks next year. I appreciate your comments man, I always love talking football. GO DUCKS

  • MAITAIDUCK

    Oregon got GASHED by the run of Ohio St as much as I hate to admit it when Oregon gets out gained on the ground by the opposing team they usually lose and that doesn’t happen very often. Oregon picked the wrong time to play a terrible game. Still what I believe lost them the Game was 8 starters from the beginning of the year is really why they lost and what a great DEPTH this team has. The O Line should be a strength again and will be stronger because these Coach’s know for them to again succeed they need to be able to run up the middle. If Oregon gets Vernon Adams they should be a favorite to get back to the 2nd Playoff in 2016. WOW the Ducks are loaded big time on Offense and everyone should be ready for spring ball except unfortunately Pharoah Brown who might not even be ready for the regular season.

    • Jason Selby

      Yeah, you are right. They did not play well, and that was very evident. We are looking very good for next year, and this recruiting class is really helping with that. And to your point about Brown, I certainly hope he can play again. We shall wait and see. Thanks for the read

  • Irish

    Many people seem to forget that Oregon’s game with Ohio St. is similar to going to a gunfight without you bullets. When you are missing Brown at TE, Johnstone at LT, Olomu at CB, Allen at WR, Carrington at WR, and Addington at WR you are not just missing average players, you are missing All Americans, All Pac-12 Players, the fastest player in the country and the leading receiver from the Rose Bowl by double second. The Ducks were behind Mich. St. by 11 and everytime they made a mistake it cost them a big gain or a TD and we won going away. I wish we could have played them with all of those absent!

    • Jason Selby

      If you look at the Florida State game, we proved that we could play well with a lot of missing pieces. Granted, we had Carrington in that game with a monster performance, but with dropped passes, no run blocking, and no run defense, you will never win a game – that is exactly what happened against Ohio State. All those guys you listed would have helped, but we got outplayed. Im very excited for the Ducks next year, as I truly believe they will be back in the playoff. Thanks for the read

      • Anthony Joseph Gomes

        oregon lost its 3 best receivers …they had the best QB in the country but he didnt have his best route runners to throw to. ohio state stacked the box and risked one on one coverage with the passing game. if mariota would have had carrington, addison and allen to throw to he would have simply cut the buckeyes to pieces which would have forced them out of man to man coverage and opened up the run. the buckeyes really copped a lucky break with the pot thing to carrington.

        • Jason Selby

          Anthony, I agree. They definitely did get lucky. Either way tho, we got outplayed. I wish we could look back and somehow simulate what the game would have been like with all those stars, but we can’t. Im excited to see what we can do next year