Recruiting Strategy: Shift of Focus

Nik Brownlee FishWrap, FishWrap Archive

After bringing in a strong class last year, Oregon got off to an amazing start on the 2016 recruiting trail. Some people, including myself, believed this class was going to be one of, if not the best freshman classes in UO history. Now, after key targets have committed elsewhere and other recruits have decommitted from the Ducks, it’s important to realize that recruiting is roller coaster — you just have to ride it out.

Focus has shifted to the regular season, so naturally, recruiting has taken a slight back seat for the time being. Oregon still has an incredibly strong class. Currently, the Ducks have 13 commitments, and six of those are four-star players. This class not only has star power, it has versatility across the board.

The Ducks’ commitments should fill the roster positions of offensive lineman (both tackle and guard) and defensive lineman, wide receiver, running back, quarterback, safety, corner and outside linebacker — and now that the season has begun for college and high school teams, the Ducks are in prime position to make another late-season recruiting push.

Even in the wake of recent decommitments by Troy Warner and Theo Howard, the class is still ranked in the Top 25 nationally — currently coming in at No. 23. Many athletes will now start planning official visits to universities.

Last Saturday, the Ducks hosted in-state players and Oregon verbal commits Brady Breeze, Cameron McCormick and LaMar Winston. Four-star OLB Winston, who according to Eric Cech, of 247sports, “pledged that he will be in Eugene for every single remaining home game.”

LaMar Winston (left), Brady Breeze (back left), Cam McCormick (middle) and Terry Wilson (right) at the Eastern Washington game.

LaMar Winston (left), Brady Breeze (back left), Cam McCormick (middle) and Terry Wilson (right) at the Eastern Washington game.

Winston also noted that he is “solid on Oregon” and will not be taking any other visits, according to Cech. The Ducks will benefit from his commitment, but maybe his biggest impact could be acting as a recruiter himself.

It’s fairly common for other commits to try and persuade other players to also choose their school, and hopefully Winston can lure some other top talent to Eugene.

As mentioned above, the Ducks have a fairly well-rounded class so far, and now they can start to add players of need as National Singing Day approaches.

Speaking of positions of need, the Ducks have a few more holes to fill this recruiting season. Linebacker is looking solid so far, with two verbal commits from four-star athletes in Darrian Franklin and the aforementioned Winston. Even with two linebackers pledged to Oregon right now, the Ducks should sign at least three, hopefully four, in this class.

Outside of linebacker, the front seven still needs work for 2016. Only one commit is on the defensive line — a unit that will graduate all three starters from opening weekend against Eastern Washington. It’s a bit too early to tell which way most recruits are leaning, but the Ducks have offered 34 defensive lineman so far, and will likely reel in a few more players as the season progresses.

Brandon Jones

Brandon Jones

Anyone who watched the game last week probably noticed the Duck secondary is quite young and inexperienced, so safety and corner should not be in demand for the near future.

According to Cech, however, Winston plans to be in touch with five-star safety Brandon Jones. If he decides to commit, Jones will definitely have a spot — and as recently as August 22, he had Oregon in his top six schools, which included Texas A&M, Alabama, Baylor, LSU and Texas.

If the Ducks get him on campus for a visit, Winston could have an opportunity to sell him on Oregon in-person. He will certainly be someone Duck coaches and fans will keep their eyes on this year.

Aside from filling the future holes on the front seven, the Ducks don’t have a glaring need in this class. Right now, Oregon needs to focus on keeping the recruits that are committed happy, adding depth at positions across the board, and maybe trying to steal a high-profile prospect away from another school.

The recruiting trail is a waiting game for now, but make sure to stay tuned to for news on recruiting as things continue to take shape.

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Top Photo by John Sperry

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