Amid a flurry of offers and developments along the recruiting trail, Oregon has scored a major “victory of the future” and is now in the driver’s seat for perhaps its biggest recruiting get to date. Top-ranked dual-threat quarterback Michael Johnson Jr. (4-Star/Eugene, OR), son of newly minted Oregon receivers coach, Michael Sr., has transferred to Sheldon High School in Eugene. While only a junior and with an eternity to go until 2019’s installment of national signing day, Johnson Jr. has been set up for a fairy-tale progression into the ranks of the Men of Oregon.
Never mind the fact that his father is now one of Willie Taggart‘s inner circle, never mind that Oregon’s current signal caller is one Sheldon High’s more illustrious alumni (Justin Herbert); simply put, Johnson, Jr. is going to be a Duck, plain and simple. With that conclusion comes the realization that Oregon has its hands on one of the most electrifying prep quarterbacks in recent memory.
With two years to maintain his already lofty prowess, Johnson Jr.’s leadership will be immediately tested, as Sheldon is currently without a head coach following the retirement of six-year headman Lane Johnson (no relation). His physical tools are there, standing 6’3 and tipping the scales at a limber 215 lbs. However, what’s to come could be one of the more intriguing homegrown, albeit transplanted, prep-to-college rank story-lines in the last decade. Stay tuned!
Pagano’s 6’3, 295-lb. frame instantly becomes Taggart’s biggest recruiting pickup during his short time in Eugene. Championship pedigree aside, Pagano is the type of gap filler that Oregon has so desperately needed in recent years, as other mainstays on Oregon’s line have leaned towards lightning rather than thunder in terms of style of play. Pairing Pagano with end Henry Mondeaux and a stable of youngsters looking to make a name for themselves in the upcoming season could yield unparalleled success, given defensive line headman Joe Salave’a‘s emphasis upon creating mismatches with physicality.
Salave’a’s importance to Oregon’s recruiting game has once again been confirmed, as Pagano singled out the former NFL lineman turned coach as one of core reasons he opted for Eugene.
“I can’t wait to get to Eugene to start making new friends and playing for and learning from one of the best DLine coaches in the country,” said Pagano via Twitter.
A once tedious off-season in the trenches has gained an enormous degree of clarity. Pagano will undoubtedly be a focal point in Oregon’s push to rise from an egregious defensive showing a season ago.
“… He and mom, mom being the key, are going out there then I say ‘hell yeah there is a real chance’ (that he could be a Duck),” said Evan Davis, Thompson’s high school coach. “He will be blown away with everything, so it will leave an impression.”
If the Taggart connection wasn’t enough, Thompson and current Oregon wide receiver Darrian McNeal are former teammates at Armwood High School, adding another connection that could bring the 6’2, 185-lb. speedster west. Thompson could be described as one of the more lanky wideouts in the 2018 class, giving him an edge on jump balls and the ability to see over much of his defensive competition.
“He wants to see what they have to offer,” said Davis. “Everyone always talks about Oregon, but he wants to see it himself, see the offense they are running and if he could see himself across the nation as an Oregon Duck.”
Thompson and his mother will be on hand for Oregon’s spring game on March 29th in what will be his first in-person exposure to what Oregon has to offer. Time will tell.
To view Thompson’s highlights, please click here.
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Top photo credit: Gary Breedlove