In the grand scheme of things, the recruiting season for college football is similar to speed dating. Colleges send their coaches across the country in pursuit of the best high school players. Within the limits of what is legal and ethical, coaches will do and say whatever they can to sway the player and his or her family. Recruiting the right players can help a team maintain its success, and the Oregon Ducks have done a good job with that. Although the Pac-12 conference is not the biggest juggernaut when it comes to recruiting, it is a shame to say that Oregon has not been successful over the last few years.
Oregon has many advantages it can use when it comes to recruiting. Whether it’s the uniforms, facilities, or a phone call made to Phil Knight and Nike, there are reasons why Oregon has been successful in the recruiting world. Although these factors play into the decision of committing, the connection between the player and his or her family with the college’s recruiters can get lost in the grand scheme of things. The connection the player feels with the recruiters can be a major factor in swaying the player to commit — something Oregon excels at.
A.J Jacobson of Duck Sports Authority spoke with McEachern’s head coach, Kyle Hockman, about the approach and style in which the Ducks recruit. ”The Oregon coaching staff is very impressive…” began Hockman. “They are very diligent. They communicate very well, very timely in their responses. I really like their style.” Hockman recalled a time when head coach Mark Helfrich showed up at school while Hockman was having a conversation with his father and his father’s friends. Helfrich didn’t ignore them, instead, he sparked up a conversation with them. Hockman said “He [Helfrich] talked with them and was real personable with them. You would have thought he had nothing else in the world to do the way he treated me and my father.”
It is rare to hear the head coach of a major program like Oregon show up to a personal visit, let alone a high school, unless it is for someone of major interest. This style of approach seems to be working for the Ducks, as coaches and schools across the nation seem to rave about the way in which the Ducks treat recruitment. Jacobson also spoke with Newbury Park’s head coach, Gary Fabricius, who coached a Ducks recent signee, Zach Okun. Fabricius has been the head coach at Newbury Park since 2008, so he has had his fair share of encounters with recruiters. During the interview, coach Fabricius had a clear idea about his feelings toward the Oregon coaching staff, “We enjoy those Oregon guys,” said Fabricius. “These guys come in and they seem like honest good guys who are straight shooters with you. We have had a great rapport with them. We don’t always see the head coach come in because they only come in last to seal the deal or for a really huge blue-chipper.”
Coaches seem to respect the way Oregon’s staff approaches the recruiting world. The staff connects with everyone in the player’s life, to show that they truly care and want to know as much as they can about the player. The approach Helfrich and his staff takes has a direct relationship with the success they have when recruiting. In an interview with Zach Okun by The Oregonians Andre Grief, Okun said “I felt Oregon was the most family-like. I felt the most comfortable there. The coaches, I have a great relationship with them. Everyone has a certain energy about them, which was exciting.”
The approach the coaching staff has taken towards the recruiting frenzy has paid off. With another talented class ranked in the overall top-25 and 3rd in the Pac-12, Helfrich has his staff and program winning on and off the field. In an interview with Ducks Sports Authority, Helfrich admitted that the way in which he recruits is why he landed the players they got, “We got some guys in this class because we deal with guys very honestly.” The Oregon Ducks may not be at the top of the recruiting world every year, but they a find a way to be competitive every year.
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Top Photo by Craig Strobeck