The U of O’s 2015 recruiting class was ranked 17th in the nation, much higher than those in recent years. The players and staff have consistently made it work with lower-rated recruits, 3-star Marcus Mariota being a prime example. With the emergence of linebackers’ coach Erik Chinander as a force in the recruiting world and the ever-present recruiting of head coach Mark Helfrich, this year’s class should be one for the ages. So, what will the coaching staff be able to produce over the next few years with some highly touted recruits?
This year’s class, highlighted by Canton Kaumatule, the 6-foot, 6-inch 280-pound defensive end out of Hawaii, is in the middle of the Top-25 national pack. In recent years, the Oregon program has evolved 3-star recruits into BCS bowl game winners and highly rated draft picks. With the Ducks making this work for the past ten years or longer, there is reason for great optimism regarding the impact of this year’s more highly rated recruits on the success of the team.
Quarterback Travis Waller’s early enrollment at UO adds a new dimension to the spring quarterback battle. Jeff Lockie was once the favorite to start the 2015-2016 season, but now there are four other players all fighting for the spot. Morgan Mahalak, Ty Griffin, Travis Waller and now Vernon Adams will make it an interesting competition. With the return of 2013-2014 leading receiver Bralon Addison along with every notable receiver from last year’s team, some of the recruits will find themselves redshirting this year or having small roles at most. This will provide an opportunity for 4-star wide receiver Alex Ofodile and ATH Kirk Merritt, among others, to better their skills practicing against the starters. This gives the Ducks and their fans much to look forward to in coming years.
Having lost huge pieces from the defense, the Ducks will need this year’s recruiting class to be one that helps on defense more than anywhere else on the field. With Canton Kaumatule almost certainly replacing the gap left by Arik Armstead, there will be the return of a strong defensive line from the year before. One of the biggest holes will be in the secondary. The absence of superstar players such as Erick Dargan, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Troy Hill will definitely require players such as 4-star cornerback Ugo Amadi to step up big-time and become the next Pac-12 or All-American player to come from the revamped Oregon secondary.
With the unique combination of size and speed this class possesses, it will be hard to keep them off the field for long before they make serious contributions to the success of this team. Whoever ends up playing from this year’s class will have high expectations that they must live up to. These young recruits should have a lasting impact on the program for years to come.
Top photo by Kevin Cline
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