Oregon Football Recruiting Analysis: Make More Offers

Autzen Field, KC

Let’s get greedy! Oregon played for the national title and picked up a top-20 recruiting class in 2015. Now is the time to use that momentum to bring in a boatload of top prospects for the next recruiting cycle. Top 10 recruiting classes in the Helfrich era may start in 2016 and be similar to the 2011 top 10 class, which came on the heels of Oregon’s first appearance in the national championship.

Coach Helfrich could get his first top 10 recruiting class in 2016

Kevin Cline

Coach Helfrich could land Oregon’s second top-10 recruiting class in 2016.

It’s no secret that the Oregon football team has needs at specific positions. I made a list of some of the top 2016 players nationwide at these positions. I divided this list into two areas, as shown below. Hopefully, the coaches will dive into these areas by shotgunning offers throughout the nation, thereby increasing the odds of picking up commitments.

The SEC has topped recruiting for so many years that it has become a rarity if there are not at least six of its universities with top-10 classes each year. It is typical for these schools to hand out scholarship offers like candy in a parade. The SEC claims only three schools that have not offered more than 100 scholarships to class of 2016 prospects. Tennessee has offered more than 200, and Kentucky is seven offers away from 200!

The Pac-12 is quite different, taking a more methodical and deliberate approach. As of now, only two of the 12 schools have offered more than 100 scholarships to 2016 prospects. Oregon, in particular, strives not only to get a player who fits physically, but also characteristically. Most of the research on each prospect is complete before he receives a scholarship offer from the Ducks.

Coach Pellum gets his chance to shine for 2016 recruiting

Craig Strobeck

Coach Don Pellum gets his chance to shine with the 2016 recruiting class

2016 would be a good year to experiment with a compromising combination of the two recruiting theories. This may be the year in which Oregon has more top-notch talent verbally express interest in the football program than ever before. Why not capitalize?

Blue Chips Interested in Oregon Without an Offer

Linebacker is a position of need for Oregon, and two 5-star studs who have shown interest may not hold a scholarship offer from the Ducks: Keion Joyner of North Carolina and Lyndell Wilson of Alabama. Scout.com has Wilson holding an Oregon offer, but 247sports.com has not recognized it. Stellar linebackers are always welcome at Oregon.

Two 4-star inside linebackers interested in the Ducks are JaQuan Yulee in Virginia and Joel Dublanko in neighboring Washington. When highly-ranked ILBs show interest in traveling to Eugene, it’s important to keep that interest high enough to have a shot at landing them.

The next prospect I would offer is a former teammate of 2015 commit Taj Griffin. Julian Rochester plays defensive tackle in Georgia, and has shown interest in Oregon despite not having a scholarship offer. Rochester is at least a 4-star prospect.

My favorite 2016 defensive lineman Julian Rochester should be an Oregon target

Ryan Callahan/247sports

My favorite 2016 defensive lineman. Julian Rochester. should be an Oregon target

I like several cornerbacks, including Levonta Taylor from Virginia (5-star) and three 4-stars in Kristian Fulton from Louisiana, Trevor Sydney in California, and Isaiah Gilchrist from Washington. Fulton will be difficult to pull from LSU, and Taylor would be a great start to establishing a Virginia pipeline. Sydney and Gilchrist, meanwhile, are conveniently on the West Coast. A lockdown corner would be very helpful for the Ducks, and any of the above would do nicely.

I also like California safety Shurod Thompson. Landing Thompson with Brady Breeze would solidify a strong future in the defensive backfield where Oregon has seen so many great players over the years.

Under the Radar Prospects

The football coaches at Oregon find much success with the under the radar prospects. This was proven most recently when Oregon snagged ILB Fotu Leiato out of Washington. His highlight reel lit up the computer screens of thousands of scouts, coaches and fans across the country.

Joel Dublanko is a highly touted linebacker

247sports

Joel Dublanko is a highly touted linebacker out of Washington

I found only a few 4-star prospects that may qualify as “under the radar,” as such prospects usually land in the 3-star range. The first is 4-star Arkansas ILB Deontre Hardwick, who touts zero major offers. Similarly, Andrew Fitzgerald is a 4-star defensive end from Texas who has not received a scholarship offer from any school in the power five conferences.

With so much talent in Texas, it may be easy to overlook some real talent. Four-stars Braylon Jones and Maciah Long could be two such athletes. Jones is a defensive tackle who may join the military after high school, with Army and Navy listed as the only two offers. Long is an OLB with only three offers.

Four more underrated studs could also play linebacker at the next level. These 3-stars have no more than two scholarship offers each, and Oregon would do well get on the board early. Two of these prospects are California preps Cvaughn Stewart and Marcus Moore. Stewart is 6-foot-4 and 240 lbs.; ideal size for the position at the next level. Moore has similar size at 6-foot-3, 230 lbs. Stopping the run would be less of an issue with these two beasts.

Shurod Thompson makes a great center fielder-type safety

247sports

Shurod Thompson is a great center fielder at the safety spot

The other two prospects are Nikolas Daniels from Texas and Michael Geraghty from Nevada, each of whom play defensive end in high school. Daniels is small at 6-foot-1, 220 lbs., but would look good as an OLB. Geraghty is a bit beefier at 240 lbs. Standing at 6-foot-2, he could make a great OLB.

All in all, I believe Oregon should offer scholarships to at least 100 more football players within the next two months to improve its chances of landing that elusive top-10 class. With a solid start and momentum from the 2014 season, the Ducks have a great chance to sign the best class in program history. I think the key will be the amount of offers sent out, which will ideally mix Oregon’s deliberate approach with the SEC’s shotgun-style recruiting.

Top photo by Kevin Cline

Follow me on Twitter: @buzzbrother2

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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.

  • Roger

    Good conversation, thanks. I agree with much of what you said. I have two concerns: 1) do you complete research takes time 2) Eugene, OR is not a great fit for all talented athletes! !

    • Anthony Joseph Gomes

      eugene oregon only needs the 22 who can play best together.. everyone else can have the rest of them.

  • Dan

    While I agree that Oregon needs to extend more offers in some of our areas of need, I disagree with the need for a “shotgun” approach for two reasons:

    1) Oregon doesn’t have a pressing need at some positions and, therefore, can take a more selective approach to recruiting in those areas. QB, RB and WR come to mind, where we have recruited well over the past few years and blue chip prospects appear to be lining up to play in our offense.

    2) Having the players with the right attitude may be more important than how talented they are. Football is a team sport and it is important to have players who buy into what the coaches are telling them, and are willing to work hard to improve and achieve their goals. There are a number of teams who have perpetually “underachieved” given the level of talent on their rosters. And a locker room can easily become divided by a few “bad apples.” Oregon has a good thing going and should think long and hard about chasing stars. I believe that Coach Bellotti lost a few of his teams at Oregon, and it could have been due to this reason.

    Your article did have some nice tidbits on recruits to keep an eye on. In order for Oregon to get
    over the last remaining hump, I believe that we’ll need to upgrade our talent at some key positions (e.g., linebacker). Hope the coaches go all out to bring in talent in those key positions without completely abandoning their approach to recruiting.

    • Anthony Joseph Gomes

      i am not so sure about oregon recruiting well at quarterback. we had 1 awesome off the scale player that the services underestimated and one pretty good QB who went somewhere else because of the first guy. thats two. the rest havent really panned out. we have some now waiting in the wings that have some interesting potential but are yet unproven. lockie you say? hasnt really been tested and the fact that helf thought to give vernon adams a scholarship does not show confidence in mahalak or lockie. mariota was an iron man…he played virtually every minute for 3 years but beyond that who knows? who knows what lockie would have done if he had been seriously called upon to do anything.

      • Dan

        While we had a few misses following Marcus Mariota, we have signed some talent and future blue chip prospects have high interest in Oregon for the foreseeable future. MM’s Heisman will only help future recruiting at the position.

        Oregon QB Commits/Prospects:
        2014: Morgan Mahalak (4-star)
        2015: Travis Waller (4-star)
        2016: Seth Green (4-star)
        2017: Tua Tagovailoa (4/5 star?)*

        * This young QB from Marcus Mariota’s high school in Hawaii already holds many offers, including offers from USC and UCLA. There have been numerous articles about how Marcus mentored him at a camp. He has said that Oregon is his #1 school, as he wants to follow in Marcus’s footprints (see article below). Given his offers, he should be at least a 4-star, if not consensus 5-star, by the time he is a junior/senior.

        http://www.oregonlive.com/recruiting/index.ssf/2014/12/tua_tagovailoa_marcus_mariota.html

  • Danny Shearer

    I do agree that Oregon needs to extend more offers and I admit being a diehard Ducks fan that follows recruiting can be very frustrating. But adopting the blanket offer strategy of offering every 5 star and 4 star recruit is very irresponsible or intelligent. Also it puts the coaching staff in a position of pulling offers from committed recruits or other high rated recruits paying attention to our recruiting may look in other directions. It’s a double edged sword and what about the recruits that put it all together and have a amazing senior year??? Showing interest and developing a relationship takes a lot of time and should’nt be rushed and a offer shouldn’t be devalued because it’s easier to just throwout offers. Remember the Oregon State 2000 football team?? They had arguably the best team in the country with NFL talent all over the place and that team reeked havoc on the community and university because Erickson didn’t do great research on the players he recruited or he cared more about winning then character. Just cautionary tails to think about when recruiting. So far I like the pace we are doing right now, a lot faster then past years. As far as LB talent in the northwest this year is stacked with talent both in Oregon and Washington.

  • Jon O

    Great article Jason.

    As a Ducks fan, theere is nothing more disheartening to read than the phrase “recruit hopes to receive an offer from Ducks” over the past few years I’ve been dumfounded how consistently I’d read this over and over, especially as it often times was concerning a quality 4 star recruit.

    If my memory serves me right, the ducks waited forever to offer Devon Allen. I’m not complaining about the Ducks performance, but I agree in that a bigger priority should be placed on recruiting at an earlier point in time. The wait and see approach can work, but in the process with recruiting cycles beginning earlier and earlier we fall behind, and I often feels this hurts are recruits to put weight into a school paying attention and offering earlier in the process.

    Great piece, I’d love to see the offer comparison between the SEC and Pac-12, I had no idea there was that big of a difference.

    Any chance the Ducks setup a “Junior Day” similar to what Mack Brown used to do at Texas? I recall hearing about this and him saying it was one of the most important recruiting days in the year for their school.

    I love the topic and thank for covering it so well. In addition I’d love to hear your thoughts on over signing as well as it seems like another dark side of recruiting that no one seems to mention.

    Lastly, great piece and let’s hope we never hear a big time recruit say “I hope to hear from oregon soon, but haven’t yet.”

    Go Ducks!!!!

    • Michael G

      I don’t think Oregon has a “wait and see” approach, but rather a vetting process, to ensure that the prospect meets the criteria established by Chip Kelly years back, from a ‘character’ standpoint. Oregon is not Alabama…It doesn’t win because it has the most talent, but rather because they have an established culture that creates cohesion, and ultimately a winning environment.

      “A little leaven, leavens the whole lump” A biblical term, but very applicable. All it takes is a couple of bad characters to ruin a good culture. Oregon needs to continue to ‘check these guys out’.

      I am not totally sure, but I think that Oregon can’t pay for recruits to travel to Eugene for a Junior Day, so given the distance from most recruits, I am not sure how successful a Junior Day would be for Oregon. Texas was in a situation where they had loads of talent in their backyard…

  • MAITAIDUCK

    WOW god stuff and heck lets bring all those kids in and that would be a TOP 5 Class! Oregon will probably bring in a limited amount around 20 and there saying they will take 5 LB’s and there’s a good chance they’ll all be highly ranked because it’s 1 position they really need to upgrade. they will take 3 DL 3 OL 3 to 4 DB’s and I’m hearing 4 star CB’s like 3 to 4 highly touted that are very interested in Oregon. Also you didn’t mention any Arizona kids and this year they have quite a few and 1 guy that the Ducks staff are going after hard is the Murphy kid at DL who is just as big as his older brother Trent who tore our O Line a NEW you know what so he’s supposed to have a lot of upside. Most of these kids you mentioned I haven’t even heard about all these kids you’ve mentioned but do us all a favor and go give the Coach’s this list and push them. Shurrod Thompson is seriously interested in the Ducks and both him and Brady would make this a great DB Future as well as some MAN to MAN CBs. Its freaking EXCITING to be a DUCK Fan now and I’ve been a fan since 1978 so the Evolution of this program has went ballistic and ALL’S I can hope for before I die is 1 Championship and that could be 2016 because this Team is loaded and with VA coming in as QB the sky’s the limit and he’s been compared to Russell Wilson and he’s got a cannon for a arm and supposedly better long ball than Marcus! WOW!

  • Michael G

    While I have been frustrated over the years with Oregon’s seemingly slow offer process, I don’t think blasting out a ton of scholarship offers is a good idea. Oregon has established a culture, which is largely dependent on not only the right type of talent, but also the right type of character.

    Why fix something that isn’t broken? Do we really want the Ducks to go back to the days of ineligible recruits for academic reasons, or worse…players getting kicked off the team? Whatever Oregon is doing is working, so why “experiment” now? I take pride in the team I love, and their pursuit of only ‘high character’ kids.

    Tennessee, Florida, Texas, and Notre Dame are all schools that consistently rank in the top 10 of recruiting, yet have not experienced anywhere near the success Oregon has. Keep the culture in tact…win on the kids you do get, and accept that some will be lost because of the process that is in place…don’t abandon your principals!