I have been around recruiting as long as Oregon football has been on the web, and frankly, I am stunned at what I am seeing with Oregon football recruiting currently. This is not meant to be a “feel-good” article/analysis, because, as in the past, I am calling it as I see it, whether good or bad (and I cannot believe what I am seeing).
Every website has their own recruiting criteria that they use to judge with, and on this site it is dependent upon the writer. Being an Oregon season ticket holder for 30 years, and football analyst for the last five, means that I’ve watched a ton of recruiting seasons over the years and thus have developed my own simplistic way to analyze and rate a recruiting class.
My interpretation of the “star” system? All it does is provide a probability of a player helping the team; the higher the star, the higher the probability. Oregon has had 2-star players turn into great players (such as Patrick Chung), but that happens only 40% of the time. 3-star players help the team about 60% of the time, while 4-star players help the team about 75% of the time. The biggest recruits, the 5-stars, have the highest probabilities at 85-90%, but we have seen 5-star busts (Kevin Wilhite) as well. Others have had their career at Oregon shortened due to injury or off-field issues, such as the curious cases of homegrown stars Thomas Tyner and Colt Lyerla.
There are no guarantees, but the stars provide percentage probabilities for us to consider, and to an extent convey whether a player is ready to play right now or not. High school offensive linemen who are fast, athletic and 305 pounds are often 4-stars, while a Hroniss Grasu at 260 pounds coming out of high school was not ready to play and needed to spend time in the weight room. As such, he was a 3-star recruit. This isn’t rocket science.
There are multiple recruiting ratings services out there: Rivals.com, Scout.com, and CBS/247.com. I personally use Rivals.com, and here is why. I am often looking back in history to provide perspective on current recruiting versus the past, and only Rivals.com is reliable looking back over 20 years. Scout.com was originally founded by a Husky, and for years had a recruiting bias against Oregon recruiting. It was more than suspicious when a 4-star recruit verballed to Oregon and within weeks the rating declined to a 3-star on Scout.com.
Scout.com has since become reliable in present analysis, but I cannot use their standings from the biased past. Meanwhile CBS-247 has the best recruiting news and reports (which is why we have a close relationship with them on this site, use their information, and promote their subscriptions), but they too do not have a reliable past, and even now I find their team ratings dubious. Thus Rivals.com it is for recruiting ratings, and CBS-247 for minute-to-minute recruiting coverage; they are both exemplary in their respective areas of expertise.
Finally, I do not worry about the two or three-star players in the trenches, as it is common for Oregon to build these players up and teach them the skills to become superb contributors on the offensive and defensive line. If we can get 4-star or 5-star players on the lines, fine, but I do not sweat it like I used to. What I want to see is a high numbers of stars attached to the names of the skill players that Oregon signs.
My Criteria for a GOOD Recruiting Year
I consider a signing season to be “very good” when we have eight 4 or 5-star players contained in the total recruiting class at Oregon. (That includes both JC and high school players) For perspective? Oregon signed just five 4 or 5-star players in 2016 and 2014, and a satisfactory eight in 2015. (These were the recruiting classes of Mark Helfrich and his staff) The best-ever recruiting class occurred in 2007 under Mike Bellotti, with a dozen players in the top two categories while the second best classes came in 2010 and 2011, with eleven 4-5 star players under Chip Kelly. The third best was 2012, with ten of the coveted players signed.
Where is Oregon NOW for 2017?
I cannot believe this as I keyboard it, but the Ducks have EIGHT 4 or 5-star players verbally committed to sign on Wednesday right now! But wait! There’s more!
The Ducks have in their pocket a 4-star corner (Deommodore Lenoir) from Los Angeles as a silent commit, a lock to Oregon who wants to announce on signing day. This is not news to those who follow recruiting closely, but it is important for everyone else to know that he has four close friends who have verballed to the Ducks, and they want to all go to the same college. He set up and then cancelled his visit to Michigan State the weekend before last, and cancelled to Mississippi State this past weekend. He would make NINE 4 or 5-star players coming to Oregon!
What COULD happen for the Ducks?
Oregon is still in play for TEN other 4 or 5-star players who have either verballed to other schools and are reconsidering, or have yet to commit (per FishDuck.com Recruiting Guru Jason Fowler). There is also a strong rumor that a couple prospects are silent commits like Lenoir, but want to make a publicity splash for the Ducks on signing day. There is another rumor that Oregon has a HUGE recruit who will flip on signing day to the Ducks, and does not want to rock the boat with the school he is currently verbally committed to (would you want the wrath of a Jim Harbaugh, Urban Meyer, or Nick Saban on you from flipping at this late date?).
These rumors have sometimes come true with a De’Anthony Thomas coming to us at the last moment for example, and other times it has simply been a rumor that was groundless. Of course, that is what is going to make Wednesday all the more entertaining!
My dream … my FANTASY for my beloved Ducks…
There are two players in particular that I would love to see sign with the Ducks, and they are:
- Josh Falo, (6’5″ 235 lbs.) a 4-star tight end who could go crazy in the new Oregon offense.
- Juliano Falaniko, (6’4″ 200 lbs.) a 4-star Outside Linebacker/Safety who is currently committed to USC.
If ONE of the players above or any of the remaining ten high-value prospect signs a letter of intent with the Ducks … then Oregon ties it’s the third-best recruiting year ever. If TWO of the ten sign, then we equal the SECOND recruiting year ever. If we sign THREE of the ten?
I’ll pass out.
My friends, we have a realistic shot at expanding beyond the nine premium prospects I’ve referred to, but even if we do not? I am very pleased with the results, especially with this staff coming in at such a late date and considering the other components they have had to contend with in the press. It is simply astounding and unbelievable and I cannot give Coach Willie Taggart enough credit for recruiting and selling his vision to recruits and other coaches to join the Ducks.
Good times are ahead my friends!
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
College Football Analyst 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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