The Oregon football program has had better moments, but in terms of overall history you don’t have to go back too far to see that we fans had fun enjoying the little wins and nuggets of positive progress for many years.
One thing is certain. Recruiting highly talented football players is essential to imminent success.
A key to recruiting top talent throughout the nation is getting the athletes to town and on campus. It’s easy getting the prospects within the state or nearby to make the short distance to check out the facilities, both academic and athletic. However, it’s those long distances that make it so challenging for coaches to get the face-to-face interaction. This is where official visits (OVs) are vital.
Let’s not get confused with unofficial visits (UVs), which require the potential athlete to pay his own way to the university. Airline tickets and lodging and food are provided by the prospect and his family members that may join him. Indeed, this shows genuine interest in that particular football program and usually bodes well for a potential OV from that family.
The OV is paid for by the university. The expenses to the school include such things as transportation, lodging, three meals a day and “reasonable entertainment.” Sometimes the reasonable entertainment can have varied meanings, but it definitely includes tickets to the home football game.
Eugene, Oregon, has a great game-day environment. Once the prospect gets to the U of O campus and experiences that energy and hears the roar of the crowd in Autzen stadium, a positive feeling of a wonderful place to play at the next level develops quickly.
Division I schools have the largest number, but still limited, OVs available to offer high school football preps. The maximum one university can provide in a year is 56. Oregon is again at the maximum after serving three years of NCAA penalties when Chip Kelly failed to monitor the football program. One of the penalties was a reduction of OVs from 56 to 37, ending after the 2015-2016 academic year.
While limited to only 37 OVs, Oregon had to keep a close eye on the number of prospects it was bringing to campus. About 22 prospects sign a letter of intent to attend Oregon each year. That leaves a margin of roughly 15 “misses.”
Missing out on getting some kids to Eugene hindered the program tremendously.
At least a dozen more visits would have given Oregon a shot at blue-chip talent that may have been extremely impressed with the amazing sports facilities and additions made recently to help improve the experience of the athletes. I would tie this in with why the last couple recruiting classes decreased in potential talent. That would have prevented – or at least reduced the impact of – the decline of success this season.
There is still hope this season for the class of 2017, and I look forward knowing that roughly 50 student athletes will travel to Eugene for an OV and see what Oregon has to offer the football players.
247sports.com maintains a list of official visitors that have visited and scheduled to visit. I really like the names that I’ve seen on this list. Also, just like recruiting, OV dates are always changing and rescheduling.
Who Has Visited
September was a good month for high-profile recruits to visit Oregon. The Ducks averaged four visitors for the three home games. Two current commits, Langi Tuifua and Moses Robinson-Carr, joined two East Coast visitors the first weekend. Chad Terrell, from Georgia, is a 4-star wide receiver who traveled a long way with Tennessee linebacker Jacob Phillips. Both would be excellent additions to the team, especially Phillips, with the need for depth at linebacker.
The following week of September when Oregon hosted Virginia, five official visits were made. Current commit CJ Verdell became the recruiter when he stood next to the three giant offensive line prospects who could potentially block for him in the future. Aaron Banks came up from California, Michael Richardson traveled from Utah, and Chuck Filiaga came all the way from Texas to watch the win. Plus, safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell tripped from Michigan and enjoyed his time so much that he expressed a desire to make a return trip for his mom to get the tour.
With four redshirt freshmen starting on the offensive line currently, any of those three big men from the Virginia game visit would help the future depth a ton.
Three more OVs were made for the Colorado game, and again, another current Oregon commit attended. Sampson Niu helped safety Trajon Cotton from California and defensive end My-King Johnson from Arizona get excited for the future plans in Eugene. Cotton left impressed despite the loss to the greatly improved Buffs.
The first week of October turned out to be the biggest recruiting weekend to date for the 2016 season. Some key official visitors made long journeys to the state of Oregon to watch the 12-game win streak on the line with the Huskies. Two local visitors were current commit Alex Forsyth, who returned to Autzen with teammate Elijah Molden. Molden is seen as a must get for the football staff.
Others included a couple running backs. Darrian Felix from Florida is nothing less than electrifying. He and Travis Etienne from Louisiana may have discussed working the backfield together in the near future. Nate McBride, one of my leading wants for Oregon, traveled from Georgia. The inside linebacker has got to realize the immediate impact and success he would have at Oregon.
There was also a last minute surprise visitor from the state of Washington. Henry Bainivalu is an offensive tackle that has the size already to make it as a college player.
Finally, the highest rated official visitor attending the Washington game was wide receiver Joseph Lewis. Lewis could easily stay in the LA area and choose either of those two schools, but he has to remember the success another LA 5-star had at Oregon a few years back. Though we are unlikely to see Lewis in green next year, it doesn’t hurt increasing the odds of landing someone with so much talent by getting them to see the campus in Eugene.
Who Is Scheduled to Visit Yet
After the drubbing Oregon took at home at the hands of Washington, it will be hard pressed to assume any superstars throughout the country will be flocking to Eugene for future games to spend one of their OVs with the Ducks. However, currently 247sports.com has listed two California athletes who have penciled in their official visit dates. October 29 is the day former Washington State commit, Isaiah Hodgins makes it to Oregon. The wide receiver seems to lean toward Nebraska at the moment but hopefully that can change after his visit.
The next on this list is the newly-offered wide receiver from California, Bryan Thompson, who immediately put the Ducks in his top 5 list. The last visitor currently scheduled is definitely not the least. Blue chip prospect, 4-star cornerback, Thomas Graham is a gem. Not only does he excel at defense, but can be just as effective on offense as a receiver. Oregon staff, players and fans alike would go crazy if Graham signed with the Ducks. Versatility is an Oregon specialty.
Others expected to take their OVs are currently committed players who have not visited yet. A huge commit recently was 4-star cornerback Jaylon Redd out of California. Deommodore Lenoir, Rutger Retmaier, Tre’ McKitty, John Vaka, Demetrius Douglas and Adam Stack still all need to schedule their OVs. We look forward to learning about those visits.
That’s it! Recruiting is ever changing and so much can tilt within seconds before letter of intent day. OVs continue after the season and are scheduled throughout January and even up to the first Wednesday of February, signing day.
Special thanks to Duck Territory at 247sports.com for sharing this information with FishDuck.com. Check out their trial subscriptions for the best up-to-date daily information on Oregon recruiting.
Top photo by Rhianna Gelhart
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