Expect Changes With Oregon Football Recruiting in Next Six Months

Oregon D vs. USC QB - GaryBreedlove

Nearing the halfway mark of the 2017 recruiting class in September, the Oregon Ducks have managed to collect roughly half of the expected prospects to sign in February. Just because Oregon has 11 current verbal commitments to date, don’t expect those same 11 to be intact through the letter of intent day. As recruiting goes, there are bound to be some changes ahead.

Eugene, Oregon, is not an easy place to recruit to. Compared to states such as California, Texas, Georgia, Florida and Ohio, the state of Oregon does not produce many highly sought after prep stars. This makes it easy for the Ducks to obtain many of the local studs who dream about playing for Oregon their entire lives. Predictably, there are always exceptions.

2016 Ducks will play more like this moment from the 2015 victory over Washington

Kevin Cline

2016 Ducks will play more like this moment from the 2015 victory over Washington

National Prospects

In Part I of II in this series, I will focus on the defensive side of the ball, with Part II discussing the offensive recruiting.

Of course, there are challenges with recruiting nationally. Oregon has been able to benefit from snatching athletes from the grasp of the SEC. So far, there are two prospects that have verbally committed to the Ducks that keep it challenging. Defensive tackle, Rutger Reitmaier, attends high school in Tennessee and seems very solid with his commitment despite all the pressure from nearby universities begging him to change his mind. Reitmaier is all Duck at this point. The other national recruit plays on offense and will be mentioned in Part II.


The player who has been committed to the Ducks longest — more than a year — is Langi Tuifua from Utah. I don’t know how much communication goes on between Tuifua and the coaching staff of Oregon, but it seems to have lightened up a bit. I’m not saying it is the staff losing interest due to other potential prospects or if Tuifua is fading with interest. Tuifua has a teammate being heavily recruited nationally, Jay Tufele. Tufele has an Oregon offer but doesn’t seem to be biting to join his teammate right away. Tufele may have other interests and try to bring Tuifua along with him.

New defensive coordinator Brady Hoke is in Eugene to bring swagger back to the Oregon D

Gary Breedlove

New defensive coordinator Brady Hoke is in Eugene to bring swagger back to the Oregon D.

Both would fit wonderfully in Brady Hoke’s new defensive scheme. Bringing in both South Jordan 4-stars would bolster the defense at some needed positions. It’s no secret that Hoke is trying to bring in some big bodies to the middle of the defensive line. Having Reitmaier is a great start, plus getting Tufele to join Tuifua is better. However, if Hoke can grab one more defensive tackle and flip Marlon Tuipulotu from Washington, the future Duck D-line would appear national-title worthy.

Two other tackles that would make a great impact on the line are Martin Andrus and Popo Aumavae. Both have size and strength to help solidify a stout line that keeps Oregon in games. The future of the defensive line has the feel of greatness.

Tuifua and maybe Deommodore Lenoir are my biggest concerns that may not remain committed to Oregon and each would be a big blow to the recruiting class. Lenoir helps with recruiting but wants some of his LA buddies to come along with him. A few of them don’t have an offer yet. To keep Lenoir, this may need to change soon.

Recently, scout.com broke a story that gets me very excited. The topic is Nate McBride, the 6-foot-2 225 lb. inside linebacker from Vidalia, Ga. This article states that McBride’s top five has basically become a top two. The local school, Georgia, is in a good position to land this freak of an athlete; Oregon, however, is the other school. McBride is hoping to visit Eugene October 7, in time for the Huskies to come to town. This has potential to be a very influential visit and help Oregon pick up one of my favorite prospects right now. McBride is fluid, quick sideline to sideline and a hard-hitting tackler. Southern elite defenders don’t go West much, but I’m all in for this one.

Stunned silence again -- after Oregon beats the Huskies 13 years straight

Kevin Cline

Stunned silence again — after Oregon beats the Huskies 13 years straight.

Keeping at linebacker, inside backer Jacob Phillips from Nashville, Tenn., put Oregon in his top 5 list and has an official visit set for September 3 against UC Davis. It’s not a high profile game but it’s great to be considered by another 4-star from the South and get him on campus.

If the Ducks pick up Niu, McBride and Phillips, Oregon will be full at linebacker unless one of the 5-star guys has a change of heart. Hoke would easily make room for Baron Browning out of Texas as the No. 8 overall ranked blue-chip or the No. 2 overall Dylan Moses from IMG Academy. Neither would likely happen at this point.

Oregon has two commits at the cornerback position and would love to pick up two or three more if the right guys come calling. The three most likely becoming Ducks where the staff would make room for all three are: the local top talent, Elijah Molden, who is an Oregon legacy; the No. 7 corner in the nation, Thomas Graham out of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; and Graham’s teammate, Jaylon Redd. A very nice “alternate” would be Elijah Gates in Buena Park, Calif. If Graham commits, his ceiling is so high on either side of the ball, it would allow Oregon the flexibility to prevent any congestion at the corner position and utilize him at receiver.

Capping off the defense is the safety position. Only six offers are known to go out to safeties. One in particular, Trajon Cotton, is relatively close to having Oregon high on his list. Cotton, from Sacramento, is fast and vastly underrated. Chaz Ah You is the only other safety that likes Oregon, but being in the top 12 is not saying much for anyone on the list. Ah You will most likely serve a full-time Mormon mission out of high school and his decision may be based on whether the school will honor a position waiting for him after he finishes his two years.

One of the top linebackers in the nation has serious interest in Oregon, Nate McBride excels in track too


One of the top linebackers in the nation has serious interest in Oregon, Nate McBride excels in track too

A few more names worth mentioning that have been showing love for Oregon are; Odua Isibor, Alden Tofu, My-King Johnson and Terrance Lang. All play defensive end and each is a three-star. I mention these because there is not another program that is better than Oregon at developing classified three-star talent into superstars that get drafted into the NFL, especially at end. Will one or two of these young men be the next man up to prove the recruiting pundits wrong with their star ratings?

The length of this article may annoy many, but there is just so much to talk about halfway through this recruiting cycle with Oregon that it’s hard not to leave anything out. To put it into perspective, Duck Territory has listed Oregon offering 138 scholarships so far. Last year they knew of 138 offers for the whole year, including a few eleventh-hour offers due to de-commitments. If the Ducks stop offering now, they would match last year, but we all know that that will not be the case.

It’s great seeing the Oregon staff making changes in the recruiting philosophy and evaluation process to find more quality characters who know how to play excellent football. As I stated before, the names and faces will likely change in the next months and more offers will go out to great young men. I will say in conclusion, don’t be surprised to see Rahyme Johnson, teammate Nick Pickett and Hawaiian Miki Suguturaga as three of the next defensive recipients of the coveted Oregon offer. Recruiting is wonderful!

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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.

Follow me on Twitter @buzzbrother2

Top photo by Gary Breedlove

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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.

  • Platypus

    Thanks Jason, recruiting is wonderful but don’t forget it can rip your heart out and stomp on it too. I almost prefer 3* kids they seem to have more fire in the belly to succeed then a lot of 5* that have been coddled. Anytime you deal with 18 year old’s it’s an Inexact Science which in some ways make it more fun.

    • FishDuck

      Amen to Platypus–well stated, and thanks for the in-depth update Jason!

    • Dr. Hilarius

      I agree completely–bring on all those 3* linemen! Kaumatule is a perfect example of a 5* not panning out as well as his rating suggested.

      • Dr. Hilarius, yes! Oregon seems to get more from the hungry 3* linemen than any other school out there; however, I’m not giving up on Kaumatule yet. His bad luck with a concussion last year will hopefully resolve because he is a monster ready to be unleashed. The class of 2012 showed us what Oregon can do with a 5* (Arik Armstead) and two 4* (Alex Balducci and DeForest Buckner). I’ll take them over again.

    • Platypus, I totally agree; however, some of those 5* studs are nearly NFL ready. If only Oregon could steal a few of those linemen from Alabama and Ohio State, then the Ducks could get some national repect it deserves.

  • Anthony Joseph Gomes

    oregon has never had trouble with players flipping until the last few years. strangely a defensive back from texas flips on the last day. strangely a running back from hawaii flips on the last day of recruiting. strangely a quarterback from arizona flips weeks after high profile recruit tua tagliovailova commits to alabama. tua looked like he wanted nothing more than to become a duck and i think it may yet prove to be helfrich’s worst blunder that he wasnt offered. but before that the only guy i remember who flipped was that linebacker from cal who weighed 190 and benched 150 lbs…but did have 4 stars somehow. seems to me like a lot more game playing is going on with recruiting. it use to be that teams just went after the available players but now they go after each others recruits more. its not so much about getting good players for your team but messing with a hated enemy…and the ducks are not blameless in this regard either.

    • I always figured in the past that we would flip a player over the course of the recruiting season, and one of ours would get flipped. Now, that number is probably 2-3 a year each way, hence I can’t complain since it does go two ways.

      I am very glad that Wayne Kirby and Ratu Mafalio flipped at their last minutes as they did…..

    • Anthony, I agree, it seems as though Oregon was able to keep all of its verbal commitments in the distant past. Obviously, recruiting is quite different than it was just 15 years ago. Plus, Oregon is able to recruit nationally more easily. With that comes higher ranked kids with so many options to choose from. Its now more common to flip these days. Changes of attitude of commitment necessitates changes in tactics to get who you want. Signing players just so your rivals don’t get them is very common in the SEC and migrating West slowly. Just a few years back Alabama signed four top 15 RB’s in one class! Its sad that each of those guys actually thought that they would be the one on the field! I don’t think Oregon does that kind of recruiting, but goes after who would work best in its system.