The title of this article isn’t meant to be phony; it really is true. 10 other conference members heard the “swoosh” sound of Duck feathers flying by them in recruiting … and they are whipping their heads around, looking towards Eugene and saying, “WTF?”
Oregon is ahead of all of them but USC in Willie Taggart’s first recruiting season!
Sure, I know about some players who slipped away from Oregon in the 24 hours before signing day, but it does not change the truth, the reality of what Oregon achieved in this recruiting season. As you know, I use the Rivals.com rankings for the reasons covered in yesterday’s article. Looking at the final listing of 2017 Oregon signers reveals a total of nine 4- or 5-star players who decided to come join the Ducks.
Perspective is needed as this is the fourth best ranking ever achieved by Oregon in any recruiting class!
Oregon has had twelve, eleven, and ten 4– or 5-star players sign in past years; that is it. This year’s class put Oregon second in the entire conference with a national ranking of 18th from Rivals.com. Remember that the Mark Helfrich staff that I endorsed for the longest time brought in classes of five, eight, and five 4- or 5-star players to the Ducks in their years, as I consider eight to be a damn fine year in Oregon recruiting. This top-4 recruiting class in all of Oregon’s history was achieved in seven weeks …
That is insane.
The Huskies are looking up to Oregon … again.
Washington knew they were back, and “Oregon was in their rightful place again — bowing down to the Huskies.” I’ve had more than one of their fans bluster that at me, and how I had to know that this streak of Oregon over Washington wasn’t going to last forever (well, a dozen years for Husky fans must have felt like forever).
Yet on all three recruiting site rankings, Oregon is ahead of the Huskies in the year of their Playoff berth! How can that be? Washington stomped the spirit, the will, out of the Ducks at Autzen this year … why don’t the Ducks just give up and DIE?
Because Willie Taggart wants to win a National Championship, and this is his first step toward that goal. The Huskies were simply in the way.
Coach Taggart is feeling some pain? That’s probably Rich Rod….
Rarely does karma work out for our beloved Ducks like it did this recruiting season. You see, it was rumored that Arizona Head Coach Rich Rodriguez consulted for Oregon’s opponent prior to a major bowl game, showing them how to beat the Ducks. Oregon has had “flips,” or players de-commit from their verbal pledge to Oregon and sign with other programs, but the team in green has never put the hurt on a fellow conference opponent in recruiting like they did to the Wildcats this year.
It was bad enough for the Wildcats to have a superb defensive tackle in Austin Faoliu, and tremendous athlete Darrian McNeal, switch their verbal from Arizona to Oregon. But to see their Parade All-American quarterback (Braxton Burmeister) jerked out from under them, and feel the burn of a signing-day flip by Offensive Linemen Cody Shear to the Ducks?
Four players in one year? Rich Rod has got to be throwing darts at Willie Taggart’s picture or stuffing pins into a WCT voodoo doll!
The Bedrock of Oregon? Three-Star Players!
The foundation of the team, and majority of players at Oregon, has always been 3-star players. These guys have beaten so many teams in the last eight years, and a number have turned into 5-star performers for our beloved Ducks. What is interesting is looking at the schools who offered many of these 3-star players who signed with Oregon for 2017:
- Austin Fauliu offered by: Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan State
- Cyrus Habibi-Likio offered by: Utah, Washington State, USC
- Daewood Davis offered by: Nebraska, Miami, Penn State
- CJ Verdell offered by: Wisconsin, Nebraska, UCLA
- Jordon Scott offered by: Florida and Tennessee
- Darrian Felix offered by: FIVE SEC schools! Auburn, Tennessee….
- Popo Aumavae offered by: Michigan, USC, Washington, UCLA
Quite a few programs that have beaten the Ducks on the field or in the 2017 recruiting rankings offered and recruited coveted 3-star players that Oregon succeeded in securing. There are so many “foundation” players in this class that will impact future games, and their leadership will be felt by so many on the team.
Unusual Team Unity from this Recruiting Class
The four defensive backs who wanted to attend college together (Deommodore Lenior, Nick Pickett, Jaylon Redd, and Thomas Graham) established a pattern of communicating early and often with other potential teammates to help recruit and bring them to Oregon. To read of Popo Aumavae driving from Stockton, California and picking up Cyrus Habibi-Likio in Sacramento to travel all the way to Eugene to help recruit other prospects on their own dime? That is simply unheard of, and speaks to the unity and character of these new Ducklings.
Speaking of Cyrus … he was instrumental on social media and was burning up the phone lines talking to other recruits to bring them to Oregon. The rumor is that he spent two hours on the phone with a key recruit on the day the player was making a decision on which school to sign with — and Cyrus turned him to the Ducks! (Is that a future coach?)
Elite Talent Manifests Early….
How many times have we watched this at Oregon? A player who is highly touted shows us in his first couple games the talent he possesses (Reuben Droughns), or another who is overlooked during recruiting demonstrates superior talent from the outset (Patrick Chung). I recall the open fall practice a few months ago, when we witnessed the emergence of a 3-star freshman quarterback (Justin Herbert), who had barely been at Oregon two weeks and moved up the depth chart to the No. 2 position before ultimately unseating the starter.
It doesn’t just pertain to players; we just saw the recruiting savvy these coaches have after being assembled in such a short time. You don’t see results like that from anyone, and this feat of nine 4 or 5-star players is better than any class by Helfrich and better than all but one of Mike Bellotti’s classes. What Willie Taggart’s staff achieved in seven weeks is simply extraordinary.
I will make a prediction right now. Willie Taggart will beat the recruiting record of twelve 4 or 5-star players in a single class, and it will be done by a wide margin; maybe even next year! This group of coaches has recruiting talent unlike any previous staff at Oregon, and we just got a taste of it.
“Oh how I am going to love recruiting by my beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
College Football Analyst/Writer for FishDuck.com
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Charles Fischer has been an intense fan of the Ducks, a season ticket holder at Autzen Stadium for 35 years and has written reports on football boards for over 23 years. Known as “FishDuck” on those boards, he is acknowledged for providing intense detail in his scrimmage reports and in his Xs and Os play analyses. He and his wife Lois, have a daughter Christine, reside in Eugene Oregon, where he was a Financial Advisor for 36 years and now focuses full-time on Charitable Planned Giving Workshops for churches and non-profit organizations.
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