Let’s face it … recruiting news is entertainment, as much of a “game” as anything we follow with Oregon sports. It is such a rollercoaster, especially at this time of year. I’m going to share what I personally am watching for on the National Letter-of-Intent (LOI) signing day this Wednesday and offer some of my recruiting observations and opinions. Naturally, I’d like your thoughts in the comments.
I do wish to thank Justin Hopkins at ScoopDuck.com for sharing much of this information. Keep in mind that by now this info is nearly two days old, which in the recruiting world in December are like dog years. Only by subscribing to his site do you get the latest up to the minute news, and I do recommend visiting it.
This Recruiting Class will be the BEST EVER?
When Kayvon Thibodeaux verbally committed on Saturday, it sent heads spinning among the Oregon faithful, but also among our Pac-12 competitors, and the announcement turned heads nationally. I wrote in the past how Oregon will probably not have a top ten class due the lack of a five star player, and now “Thibs” checks that box. But I am not as concerned with our final recruiting ranking in February as I am of meeting our needs, of which there are many.
Still, the fact is, Oregon cannot miss on having the best recruiting class ever in the history of the program, and that sends a chill down my spine just writing it. This is a time to enjoy it, bask in the glow and ponder what can happen between now and Wednesday. Of all the years of following recruiting … this is the year! Let’s look first at those who have a verbally commitment to the Ducks — we see 14 of the 20 verbals are four- or five-star players!
Kayvon Thibodeaux DE Westlake Village, CA 6’5″ 230 *****
Camden Lewis K Charlotte, NC 6’0″ 190 ***
Treven Ma’ae DE Las Vegas, NV 6’4″ 220 ***
Jonah Tauanu’u OL Harbor City, CA 6’5″ 280 ****
Ge’mon Eaford DE Deerfield Beach, FL 6’0″ 218 ****
Mycah Pittman WR Calabasas, CA 6’1″ 190 ****
Trikweze Bridges DB Lanett, AL 6’3″ 180 ****
Lance Wilhoite WR Nashville, TN 6’2″ 180 ****
Josh Delgado WR Bradenton, FL 5’11” 180 ****
M. Aumavea-Laulu OL Navarro, TX 6’7″ 345 ****
Sua’ava Poti DT Bellflower, CA 6’3″ 275 ****
Jaron Waters WR Oxnard, CA 6’3″ 185 ***
Isaac Townsend DE Arvada, CO 6’7″ 235 ***
Mykael Wright DB Lancaster, CA 5’11” 165 ****
Sean Dollars RB Santa Ana, CA 5’10” 185 ****
Patrick Herbert TE Eugene, OR 6’5″ 225 ****
Cale Millen QB Snoqualmie, WA 6’3″ 190 ***
Jayvaun Wilson ATH Valencia, CA 6’2″ 210 ***
Mase Funa DE Santa Ana, CA 6’3″ 240 ****
Keyon Ware-Hudson DT Santa Ana, CA 6’3″ 285 ****
One observation is how we only have two offensive line verbals, although last year’s class was heavily weighted (truly!) toward the offensive line. I would not be surprised to see a last-minute “flip” of an OL recruit from another team — perhaps a “project” type of offensive lineman or a JC who can provide immediate depth.
This class has four wide receiver verbals (Good!), and it is a relief after the torture Duck fans went through with WR recruits last year. Jayvaun Wilson might be a fifth; he is an elite athlete who can play where needed. A nice foundation for the future of receiving at Oregon is being assembled …
This class will be the best ever on the defensive side, with not only Thibodeaux, Mase Funa and Mykael Wright as highlights, but also Sua’ava Poti, Ge’mon Eaford and Keyon Ware-Hudson, who cannot be ignored. I will be breathless waiting to see them sign and send in their LOI. This is a monster class on defense that can alter the destiny of Oregon football as we know it. Yep, that is over-the-top, but it’s only hype if I don’t believe it, and I do.
I was lamenting the flip of the JC four-star corner Elijah Blades to Texas A&M on Saturday until I learned that the Oregon staff actually cut him loose due to failing grades. Blades can sign with the Aggies, but he won’t be playing anywhere with his transcript. Coach Mario Cristobal wasn’t going to sign him to boost the Ducks’ recruiting ratings knowing that Blades’ shadow would never darken the door of the Knight Library; he did the right thing and moved on.
Who Oregon Fans are Hoping For …
There were a number of commits (11) who were on their official visits with parents this last weekend, along with five uncommitted prospects and their parents. On Sunday we learned that one of them, kicker Camden Lewis, verballed to the Ducks, and considering the excitement of the weekend, Oregon has a good shot at the others who visited. Let’s take a look at them …
Quandre’ Mosely, Corner, 6’1″ 190, three-stars, is a player who can slide over to safety or cover the slot receiver. Some think the Ducks could get a quack from him. Coach Donte’ Williams is battling primarily Utah and LSU for this defender, who could ease the loss of the JC listed above.
Brandon Dorius, DE, 6’4″ 265, three-stars, is from Florida, and the Ducks are trying to wrestle him from the Gators, Auburn and Clemson. However, he was just in Eugene and came away impressed. Watch for him!
Ismael Sophsher, DT, 6’4″ 305, five-stars, is from Louisiana and loved his visit. He’s also a badly needed player, but I find it hard to see him not going to LSU and sticking with Mama’s cooking. But, we have a better shot than Jim Carrey …
Jeremiah Criddell, Safety, 6’1″ 185, four-stars, is a player who de-committed recently, but rumor is that he and his parents were feeling the Oregon love again, and the Ducks have an excellent shot at his LOI on Wednesday. This would be a rare “commit-to-decommit-to-recommit” scenario that will be fun to watch for.
Other players who have visited in the past and whom Oregon is contending for …
Smith Vilbert, DE 6’6″ 250, three-stars, is a player from New Jersey that the Ducks are pursuing, but a long-shot for. Damn.
Dru Mathis, Inside Linebacker, 6’3″ 240, three-stars, is a stud we could use to help plug the gaps immediately with his stout frame. There are many predicting that he will commit to Oregon, but the battle with Nebraska and Jerry Azzinaro at UCLA makes this a tough one to call. (Charles looks skyward for help …)
Siaki Ika, DT 6’3″ 351, four-stars, is a premier Nose Tackle in Utah and a player the defensive coaches at Oregon truly lust for. Even with a great visit to Eugene recently, it appears that hometown Utah and LSU are the likely final candidates for him. Yet, with the “Thibs” effect … keep an eye on him! I have a very unhealthy obsession with players such as Ika who can influence a game far beyond their star rating. As an old offensive lineman, I know how hard it is to block a force of nature like this! (Calm down Charles…)
Kyle Ford, WR, 6’2″ 212, four-stars, is a receiver Oregon has been chasing for a very long time. The drama alone with this player and the games with USC, Oregon and a ton of other teams is legendary. Recent predictions are mixed (with some to the Ducks!), and he could even wait until the signing period in February to announce his decision. He’s an incredible player that I won’t even allow myself to wish for …
Chris Steele, Corner, 6’0″ 175, five-stars is another player that could vault Oregon beyond imagination. This young man likes the recruiting process and will probably wait until February. If his LOI ever comes through for Oregon … I will truly be bouncing off the walls.
Close NOW or NEVER
My views on the early signing date have changed in the past year, as I believe Oregon must sign most of their class on Wednesday. Assuming they will later lock down the remaining players in February is dangerous. These choice few recruits will have a frenzy of coaches across the US after them, and when we are competing with all the biggest schools for the last few recruiting pieces?… They should only be a dessert and not the main course of the Ducks’ class.
Why? I believe the remaining players for the February LOI signing date are those who enjoy jerking everyone around in the recruiting process and that they want to be “wooed” by all the suitors. They may also be holding out for the “best offer,” and when you are competing with the SEC and the Jim Harbaughs of the world, that puts Oregon at a severe disadvantage.
Coach Cristobal doesn’t match up well with that situation. He is not going to tell the recruit what he wants to hear. He will be straight with him, and that approach is boring and unattractive to that type of personality. He will also not have a “bag-man in the background,” and thus, I don’t believe we are going to win many, if any, battles with the remaining big recruits come February. Sorry to put the pressure on the coaches and on our sanity, but Wednesday for me is “do-or-die” for our chances with the many who are trying to decide between the Ducks and others.
This is why the “Thibs” effect could not have come at a better time and can really play a part in overcoming the recruiting disadvantage that I believe we have. This pressure, no doubt, adds to the “pucker” factor, and I’m not talking about your lips. But it is all part of the amazing entertainment that is Oregon Football, and I relish every bit of it!
“Oh how we love to watch the recruiting of our Beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Top Photo of Sean Dollar and his family with Oregon coaches is from Twitter.
Andrew Mueller, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in digital marketing in Chicago, Illinois.
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