Ladies and Gentlemen, the speculation is over. We know exactly who will be wearing green and yellow next season, and we know this recruiting class is good. While judging an overall recruiting class by looking at individual player ranking is great, one must also take into consideration team needs, and whether the coaches addressed those needs with solid recruits.
With this in mind, on to the grades.
The Ducks secured a 4-star quarterback in Travis Waller from Servite High School in Anaheim, California. Although not a high school recruit, I will throw Vernon Adams into the mix here, because getting Adams this year was the perfect situation for Waller. Just like Mariota, Waller can redshirt this season and take time to learn, improve, and get bigger. Adams gives Oregon a wealth of knowledge and experience that will only help Waller become a better player. This could not have played out any better for the Ducks. Grade: A
Last season was rough on the offensive line. While the big guys played well, they also dealt with a plethora of different injuries, and were never quite at full strength. Next year, expect Tyler Johnstone to be back, along with Tyrell Crosby, Andre Yruretagoyena and Cameron Hunt. Offensive line coach Steve Greatwood brings in some incredible young brutes, including Zach Okun and Brady Aiello. However, to ensure the success of whoever plays quarterback for the Ducks, the line needs to be at full strength all season. I believe the coaching staff has good guys to work with already, and they have done an excellent job of bringing in guys to secure future success. Grade: B+
To say that the Ducks have depth at wide receiver and running back is a monumental understatement. Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner return in the backfield. At receiver, we get Bralon Addison back, along with Dwayne Stanford, Darren Carrington, Byron Marshall, Charles Nelson and hopefully Devon Allen and Pharaoh Brown. To add to this already stacked list, the coaching staff secured 4-star running backs Taj Griffin, Kirk Merritt, and Malik Lovette, as well as 4-star wide receiver Alex Ofodile. The future at the skill positions for the Ducks looks so fast and bright that it might burn a hole through the turf at Autzen Stadium. Grade: A+++
Last year, the lack of production from the defensive line became frustrating. With a very talented Arik Armstead registering only 2.5 sacks, and his talented counterpart DeForest Buckner only 4, the push didn’t seem there. Still, with Armstead taking his talents to the NFL, it left a gaping hole at defensive end for the Ducks to address. And let me tell you, the Ducks addressed it. Canton Kaumatule, a 6’7, 290 pound 5-star freak from Hawaii has enrolled early for classes and is expected to have a major impact right away. He has the size, strength, and speed to be great. Be wary, however, because the success of next year’s defensive line lies with Buckner. If he performs better than last year, we are looking at a much-improved front. Grade: B
Linebacker was the most inconsistent group for the Ducks last year. Save the Michigan State game, the start of last season was rough. The guys seemed to figure it out towards the end of the season and into the playoffs, but then collapsed against Ohio State. This could be, in part, due to the lack of push from the defensive line, but the linebackers must be better. Two solid returnees are Joe Walker and Danny Mattingly. These guys are both very good in the box, but struggle in coverage. To help alleviate these issues, Don Pellum went out and signed JUCO transfers Jonah Moi and Paris Bostick, and hard hitting Troy Polamalu look-alike Fotu Leiato. My hope is that Walker and Mattingly can mentor Leiato and the JUCO transfers, and work to prove the haters wrong. Grade: C
With Ifo-Ekpre Olomu, Erick Dargan, and Troy Hill all graduating, the gaping hole the Ducks need to fill next year is in the secondary. After destroying Florida State without Ekpre-Olomu, it looked as if the secondary would be fine against Ohio State. Unfortunately, the entire defense got exposed against the Buckeyes. Pellum and staff worked very hard to get standout cornerback Ugo Amadi from Nashville, Tennessee. The Ducks also signed 3-star cornerback Jihree Stewart and 3-star safety Dylan Kane. I would have liked to see more recruits in the secondary, but I have confidence that Pellum will work well with the guys he has. The Ducks might be looking to turn utility weapon Charles Nelson into a full-time cornerback. He has already proven his tackling abilities on special teams, and certainly has the requisite speed and agility. The Spring Game on May 2nd should be interesting, as it will answer a lot of questions about who will be playing in the defensive backfield. Grade: B-
The 2015 recruiting class is very strong. 247sports.com has Oregon ranked as the No.16 recruiting class, with an average player ranking of 88.72. The coaching staff is also well-known for developing players. With offensive recruiting being on point this year, I am confident those guys will have an immediate impact. The defense definitely has a lot to prove, but I know this coaching staff will turn them into the best they can be.
Again, I urge you to look at how the 2015 recruits fill roster needs. The Ducks went above and beyond on offense, so while one might look at the defensive recruits and be a little disappointed, the offense and the returning defensive players should help make up for that. Overall recruiting class grade: B+
Here is a link to the entire 2015 Duck football recruiting class.
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Top Photo by Kevin Cline