This is the best start to a recruiting class that Oregon has had in its football history. The potential greatness of the class of 2016 is due not only to the number of highly touted athletes that have committed to the Ducks, but also to the total number of commitments before Independence Day. Twelve verbal commitments before July 4th is a record pace, and Oregon also has a tendency to pick up some of its top recruits near signing day and finish strong. So, look out Duck haters, because the talent you can’t stand while watching highlights each week will only hog the airways more, with many more skilled athletes heading to Eugene to put Oregon in the top ten of recruiting classes for the second time in school history.
For my analysis of last year’s recruiting class, I used my ranking system to determine that of the 22 total signees in February, Oregon brought in one platinum-tier athlete, Canton Kaumatule, and six gold-tier prospects. There was one silver-tier athlete, and rest were all bronze-tier.
Of the 12 current committed prospects for 2016, five are bronze-tier athletes and seven are gold-tier. That’s right! Oregon had a top 20 class last year with six gold-tier commits, and they already have seven golds in a half-full 2016 class. This recruiting year could easily end up having elite prospects jumping at the opportunity to be a part of another rather small class.
After the 2015-16 season, the Ducks will lose 17 to 22 scholarship players to graduation, NFL draft, or transfer. Oregon will likely sign 20 to 23 prospects the first Wednesday of February because the university will gain an additional scholarship slot back for the 2016-17 season, when the NCAA finally allows the full allotment of 85 scholarships.
As long as the recruiting is strong enough for that season, the current 20 walk-on players will continue fighting, scratching, and digging their way through the practice squad without taking any of the scholarships.
The current commitments are shaping up nicely, with the offense representing a majority of the 12 future Ducks. One quarterback, a running back, and two receivers — all from different states — are each gold-tier athletes. The other three offensive players are three bronze-tier tight ends and two offensive linemen.
The other five committed prospects are four young men from California and one from Oregon on the defensive side of the ball. The safety, cornerback and linebacker are each gold-tier talent, with our new safety/linebacker and the defensive end falling into the final bronze-tier level for this young class.
The optimism is really high from Duck fans due to the current talent and the potential fillers of the last ten or so spots in the 2016 class. There are more and more great players peppered throughout the nation that seem to beg for a scholarship offer from Oregon coaches. This is a position of leisure that was not a part of the Oregon football program before the recent success and consistency of winning.
Consistency has described Alabama for many years with titles and top-notch talent. However, I find it interesting to compare Oregon with arguably the best recruiting school in the nation over the past six or seven years.
Nonetheless, in the last 10 years there is only one number that differs in win-loss records between the two. According to Phil Steele in his recent College Football Preview, Oregon is 106-26 in the past ten years while Alabama is 107-26 in that same span of time. Yet Oregon is just now getting into the same national conversation of recruiting interest with the Crimson Tide.
Athletes are finally noticing the accomplishments of the spectacular football team and hoping to be a part of the first national title for Oregon’s football team.
I can’t wait for the Nike Opening to find out who might decide to commit at the end of the week! There are several more gold-tier prospects who have Oregon in their trimmed lists and are more apt to choose the Ducks over the others when they commit. The state of Oregon’s top athlete, 6’4, 200 lb. outside LB LaMar Winston, announced that he will make his decision on ESPN at the Opening on July 9th. Duck fans would love to see gold-tier Winston pick green and yellow.
Several other prospects are seriously interested in choosing the Ducks, and I’d love to see them in Eugene next year at this time. Topping my personal wish list are several gold-tier level players on defense: Winston, Nigel Knott, Bryce Youngquist, Jared Mayden, Devin Asiasi and Connor Murphy. Of course, I can’t help wishing for some platinum players on defense with the likes of Caleb Kelly, Brandon Jones and Georgia commit Julian Rochester.
Offensively speaking, there is only a handful of prospects who are really needed, and I salivate in hopes that they pick the Ducks. A few wish-list athletes are Elijah Holyfield, Michael Pittman and Texas A&M commit Gregory Little. The offense looks really good currently, so my wish list for 2017 offensive prep stars is a little more extensive at this point.
With 12 commitments already, Oregon is poised to set a school record for one of its best football recruiting classes since being rated ninth in 2007 by scout.com. There is just too much top talent loving Oregon to predict otherwise. Oregon will finish strong in February as it normally does and hopes to claim its signature platinum-tier athlete — or two or three — by signing day. Keep a close eye on that in the next few months.
Thanks to Duck Territory at 247sports.com for sharing this information with FishDuck.com; check out their trial subscriptions for the best up-to-date information on Oregon recruiting.
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Top photo by Jeff White