Just like those associated with Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Georgia and others, I too was swept up in the Josh Sweat madness. The five-star prospect chose Florida State, a team both close to home and with a recent history of winning. The decision made sense, but at the same time it stung a little. Why didn’t he want to be a Duck? The next closest thing to Jadeveon Clowney, Sweat could’ve taken the Ducks’ defense to another level. The Ducks still have their eyes on plenty of the top prospects yet to make college decisions, but none of similar caliber are considering the Ducks as seriously as Sweat was.
Then, it hit me. Screw recruiting. Since 2011, here’s a quick list of recruits who signed with Oregon who analysts had ranked as three-stars or less: Marcus Mariota. Let me repeat, Marcus Mariota. Also Charles Nelson, Doug Brenner, Joe Walker, Devon Allen, DeForest Buckner … the list goes on. All of those listed above made significant impacts for a team competing for a championship this year, and if I were to include the four-star recruits one could basically assemble the entire starting units. In short, stars don’t matter. Mariota was a two-star recruit and now, barring some unforeseen uprising, he’s going to win a Heisman.
The rankings and the stars don’t matter; what matters is the coaching staff and how it is able to develop raw talent. Scott Frost and Mark Helfrich are two of the most talented offensive minds in all of college football, and Don Pellum has managed to scrape together a defense (out of three-star recruits, might I add) that just shut out a team for an entire first half in a championship game. So, yes, it sucks the Ducks didn’t land Sweat. Would he have made us better? Yes. Does losing him mean the Ducks won’t continue to see the insane levels of success they’ve maintained over recent years? Not at all.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline