Out of nowhere, Oregon Ducks football hit the month of June with a collection of recruits like it’s never seen before. The typical football recruiting cycle at Oregon starts off slow, adds a few players throughout fall and the football season and then closes hard the last month until signing day in February.
This year, the Ducks found a new groove in recruiting momentum. Early May of this year, Oregon appeared to be its normal self with two commitments for the class of 2017, when the top QB target de-committed. It seemed at this moment of de-commitment and the perceived negative vibe with anything Oregon was the final straw and shattered at least four vertebrae of the camel’s back.
Langi Tuifua, the defensive end from Utah and sole verbal commitment in the class of 2017, was finally joined by an electrifying running back, CJ Verdell out of California. Verdell verbally committed to the Ducks May 5th. The loss of a QB wasn’t soon forgotten but surfaced again throughout the entire month as fans grew weary of the recruiting abilities (or inabilities) of the coaching staff.
May was an extremely long month anticipating the next verbal commitment to the Green and Yellow. But beginning June 7th, the greatest recruiting month for the Ducks began when JUCO offensive tackle, John Vaka, expressed his verbal interest.
The very next day, Oregon broke out a wand and created some serious magic by pulling a very underrated defensive tackle from Tennessee. The Volunteers were not able to keep this gem of Rutger Reitmaier from leaving its own back yard. The recruiting gods were shining down on Eugene.
The light was so bright in Eugene, that it was visible in West Linn, Ore. (near Portland), and offensive tackle Alex Forsyth made his intentions public. Forsyth is a big get as he is one of the top targets in the state of Oregon.
Perhaps the best 10-day span of recruiting in Oregon history began on a Saturday, June 18, when the Ducks pulled in two commits for the 2018 class.
Four days later, a huge pick-up came in the form of another very underrated player, Sampson Niu. The hard-hitting inside linebacker, from San Diego will help the needs in the middle of the defense.
The very next day after Niu, another defensive player chose Eugene to be his future home. As the most touted Duck recruit to this point, Deommodore Lenoir, gave Oregon fans something to really cheer about. On Day 10, a big-bodied tight end, Moses Robinson-Carr, finished off the streak on another high note.
Eight total commitments were made to Oregon in a three week time frame, but the momentum did not stop. If kickers had their own star ratings, then Adam Stack would be a 5-star at his position. The Hawaiian solidified his roster spot early July.
A few short days later, the most coveted tight end in the nation with more offers than any tight end in the 2017 class decided to end his recruiting by committing to the Ducks. Tre’ McKitty plays prep football for powerhouse IMG Academy in Florida and gives Oregon a bonus at the position. Most recently, a local Oregon prospect Demetrius Douglas, wanted to make sure he had a spot at defensive back. It’s great getting those local targets.
That sums up how quickly things turned around for Oregon’s class of 2017 recruiting. It was near mind-blowing to feel the momentum shift in favor of the Ducks. The negative media publicity was canceled by courageous, stellar players who follow the Oregon football program enough to know that a 9-win season doesn’t mean it’s in decline and need to succumb to the Washington Huskies.
Does that mean Oregon will just lay over like a Husky in Autzen to let “the streak” end because of what the media thinks?
Let me answer that question like this: Washington had the best Husky defense in many years last year and could arguably be better in 2016. However, Oregon’s defense fielded its worst-ever defensive statistical team and still managed to beat the Huskies – in Seattle. If you don’t believe what I have to say about this rival, fellow FishDuck.com staffer Mike Merrell has a must-read article detailing the situation.
This is the same Oregon defense that made the final play to beat Stanford for the second straight year and kept USC under their scoring average in a 20-point win. This year the games versus Washington and Stanford will be played in Eugene, and with the help of new defensive coordinator Brady Hoke, Oregon’s D will only be better. How much better will be determined in September in a real game.
I am certain that the likes of Washington and Nebraska may end up on the losing end of a recruiting battle with Oregon for elite defensive players by signing day of 2017. From what FishDuck.com has seen in the new defensive scheme, the Ducks have the potential to be the team to beat in the Pac-12 North. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of an overachieving team that consistently outperforms its recruiting rankings?
Now that we see the future defensive players coming in for the 2017 class, Oregon continues to add depth and talent to what appears to be many more years of success. I am extremely excited to see what Lenoir will bring to Hoke’s crew. Not just his talent, but with his influence in Los Angeles, to possibly bring in more blue-chip defenders to play along side of.
Niu and Reitmaier are two others to be excited about. Niu just finds the ball and when he does, he punishes the carrier. Rutger has serious upside with all the power in his upper body and legs, the total package on the D-line.
Size alone should speak volumes about what Oregon is bringing in so far at tight end. Two big blockers for power running and two massive targets to destroy defenders in the passing game. The Ducks will take one more tight end in this class because of the loss of three seniors after the 2016 season. That is, only if Josh Falo decides to be a part of the best tight end recruiting group. So whoever is brought in at wide receiver will have the luxury of finding themselves wide open a lot due to how busy the opposing linebackers will be covering the enormous tight ends.
Rumors have it that Tuifua is growing into his man-sized skill set. He will have more force in his hits when he reaches the next level. His quickness and athleticism will be perfect in Hoke’s new 4-3 scheme when Tuifua is let loose on the QB. Attack, attack and attack some more. It gives me goosebumps thinking about it.
The two beastly offensive tackles, Forsyth and Vaka, may get reps early when they get to campus. The offensive rotation is very effective in Oregon as long as each lineman is mobile and athletic enough to run all over the field. Plus, they will have the luxury to block for the TD machine, Verdell.
Verdell is another underrated prospect that Oregon loves to rub its success into the face of the schools who didn’t think it worth pursuing. This running back will be able to come at opposing defenses from anywhere. He’s got the size and durability to run between the tackles, the quickness and elusiveness to run around the outside and the hands and cuts to motion out of the backfield to head downfield for a pass. Verdell fits perfectly with the rest of the Ducks’ offensive weapons.
For now, Oregon’s recruiting has and will continue to slow down for the summer. Many targets want to take all of their official visits, and this is where Autzen makes an amazing impression on those guys. Plus, some of these future student athletes will want to actually see the improvements of the defense that left minimal hope of success last year. The potential starters want to see proof that they will be a part of something special and make a positive impact much like the offense does each year.
Look for Oregon to finish strong in February and being on the receiving end of a flip or two.
Special 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 daily information on Oregon recruiting.
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Top photo by Matt Prehm/247Sports