Just as surely as Oregon Men’s Basketball has established a winning culture around Matthew Knight Arena, the football program is set to bring its recruiting game to a whole new level. Head coach Willie Taggart has brought in some incredible talent at the coaching positions, along with elite defensive recruits.
National Signing Day is Feb. 1, and there is still a lot of speculation as to where some top-tier recruits will end up.
Taggart and his staff have just renewed their offer to 4-star cornerback Elijah Blades, of Pasadena, Calif. On Jan. 5, Blades received an offer from Oregon, then, on Jan. 25, he announced via twitter his decommitment from the University of Florida.
It’s no secret that Oregon has been stockpiling cornerbacks and defensive backs this season. Landing Blades would be impressive not just because of his overall talent, but it would send a message that Oregon is ready, after two lackluster seasons, to compete with the big-name Southern schools again when it comes to recruiting.
Oregon already has some new offensive weapons. Along with Darrian Felix, they received a verbal commitment from another stellar running back/athlete, 4-star Cyrus Habibi-Likio of Mountain View, Calif. He had offers from multiple Pac-12 schools, including Cal, Washington State, and Utah. Habibi-Likio (6’1″, 208 lbs.) comes from the same area as former football star Byron Marshall.
Oregon has reportedly told Habibi-Likio that he would be using his size and agility in much the same way as Marshall did. “I grew up watching Byron because we are from the same area,” Habibi-Likio told 247sports. “That role seems to fit me really well. I like the idea.”
The profile video below will give you an idea of the kind of person Habibi-Likio is, and how important brotherhood with teammates is to him. Oh, and you can see for yourself how fast this guy is.
Another reason to get excited about National Signing Day is the addition of Josh Falo (most likely a silent commit), who is in a close decision between Oregon and USC. Falo is a 4-star tight end from Inderkum, Calif., located in Sacramento. Oregon had three tight ends graduate last year, so it’s important that Taggart and the coaches get some tight ends on board this recruiting season. Getting Falo over USC and Colorado would be huge.
Listed at 6’5″, 235 lbs, Falo would be a massive pick up for the Ducks, literally. One highlight reel gives great examples of why he was so highly sought after: he has the athletic build and solid hands to be very hard to stop when running downfield. But if that doesn’t satisfy you, try this. (There are not many defenders who can shut this guy down.)
Oregon was the last school that Falo planned to visit, so the coaches and staff made this trip special. Falo’s family and high school coach Terrance Leonard also joined him on the trip. The word on the street is that Leonard loves UO, so that will definitely help sway Falo.
Taggart and nearly all the other coaches flew to California last week to visit Falo, making it clear to him that he is a serious priority for them.
— Josh Falo® (@Josh_falo) January 27, 2017
Continuing the trend in offensive pickups, Oregon has snagged a pair of excellent wide receivers, starting with 3-star Demitri Burch from Apopa, Fla., who verballed to the Ducks last Saturday. (Burch had an offer from Taggart’s old team, University of Southern Florida.) The day after Burch made his official visit to Oregon, he decommitted from the USF Bulls.
Burch is 5’11”, 181 lbs, and the dynamic athlete could likely play kick return. He and Taggart have been close for a while. ”Coach T was the reason I committed to South Florida, and he’s a good guy and a great coach,” Burch told The Oregonian.
Burch is going to be joined by another former USF pledge, Bruce Judson Jr., another 3-star wide receiver from Cocoa, Fla. On Friday, Judson announced his decision to come to Oregon over USF, Oregon State, and others. Judson is a stockier athlete, at 5’9″, 203 lbs. He also runs a 4.41-second 40-meter time.
Judson, much like Burch, said Taggart played a key role in his selection. ”We are real, real close – almost like my dad. It’s like a dream offer,” Judson said in an interview with The Oregonian. “Growing up, it was Florida and Oregon. Now, I got a chance to go there.”
There is definitely a trend with Taggart attracting recruits because of his strength of character. Adding another dynamic playmaker is sure to help Oregon this coming season. Check out his highlight reel here!
Oregon is not just thinking about recruits this week. It’s also thinking long term, as it extended a full-ride scholarship to yet another elite defensive back, class of 2018 recruit Tyreke Johnson, a 5-star safety from Trinity Christian Academy, Fla. At 6’1″, 177 lbs, Johnson is a quick and nimble safety, and has expressed interest in playing for the Ducks. As he told Duck Territory, “I’ve always wanted to put on one of the best uniforms in the country.”
Johnson would be a valuable addition to the growing talent pool of the Ducks’ backfield. However, distance could be a factor, and he would have to resist the grasp of nearer SEC schools such as Florida and Alabama, both of which have made offers for him.
Eugene was on the plane ticket for a lot of recruits this last weekend to do an official visit, and having Oregon as the last visit could work out in favor of the Ducks. The final visit usually sticks out in recruits’ minds, and Taggart is sure to be very persuasive as the deadline approaches.
It’s been an incredible recruiting ride in the short time since Taggart was named coach. I feel optimistic about Oregon’s chances in the Pac-12, especially with the great coaching staff Taggart has assembled. Of course, while there could be growing pains with such a new system, Oregon will be signing on Wednesday some great talent at both the offensive and defensive positions to make that transition much more exciting for the coaches and fans.
Prepare to buckle up for National Signing Day!
Eugene, Ore. (From Half Moon Bay, Calif.)
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Top Photo by 247sports