Early returns on 2020 recruiting are promising for Oregon. The Ducks have secured five commits thus far, with three four-stars and two three-stars. Two of the four-star recruits have committed within the past week.
Remember that it is still April, and that under previous regimes the Ducks would enter the season with roughly five commitments. Where Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich filled their teams with late additions and under-recruited three-star players, Mario Cristobal is playing the recruiting game much more aggressively.
Where Kelly and Helfrich would, famously, take the fastest available player, Cristobal consistently targets the best available players.
Everyone will remember Cristobal’s first full recruiting class for its dominance over Southern California, as well as the star power — provided it pans out. That being said, the 2020 class could easily eclipse the No. 1 class in school history. Here’s how.
Another Top 10 Player
Kayvon Thibodeaux came to Oregon in 2019 as the highest rated commit in school history, surpassing the likes of Haloti Ngata, Jonathan Stewart and De’Anthony Thomas in his ranking.
The Ducks don’t appear to be in play for anyone who will surpass Thibodeaux in terms of ranking, but for one top-10 prospect, Oregon appears to be very much in the mix.
The player in question is DJ Uiagalelei, and he is the No. 6 rated recruit and No. 1 rated QB in the country.
Uiagalelei attended Oregon’s spring football game this past weekend and the Ducks rolled out the red carpet like they never have before. They even brought Marcus Mariota and Jeremiah Masoli to meet the young QB on his unofficial visit to the school. Masoli was one of Uiagalelei’s favorite players growing up, and Mariota holds the distinction of being the only Oregon player to ever win the Heisman Trophy.
With a decision coming in May for Uiagalelei and the Ducks’ spring game fresh in his mind, Oregon may finally be pulling ahead of Clemson in the two-horse race for the top QB in the nation.
Of note: the Ducks already secured the commitment of one of Uiagalelei’s receivers from St. John Bosco, Kris Hutson.
The 2019 recruiting class, for all of its talent, only featured one five-star player. 2020 looks like it could be a different story, with Oregon in the running for several five-star recruits in addition to the aforementioned Uiagalelei.
Johnny Wilson is a 6’6 220 lb. receiver from Calabasas, CA. He is the No. 25 ranked player in the nation.
Justin Flowe is a 6’2 225 lb. inside linebacker from Upland, CA. He is the No. 3 player in the nation, but looks like a USC lean at this time.
Kendall Milton is a 6’2 220 lb. running back out of Buchanan, CA. He is the No. 15 ranked player in the nation, and looks to be currently leaning toward Oklahoma.
Essentially, the Ducks are strongly in play for two five-star recruits, with a couple more strongly considering UO. That bodes well for the likelihood of the 2020 class surpassing the 2019 class in terms of top end talent.
A Fringe Five Star
Oregon may have only five commitments to date, but the Ducks have one player who may work his way into the ranks of the nation’s elite by the time signing day arrives.
That player is Avantae Williams. The impressive athlete is currently the 46th-ranked player in the nation, holding a 0.9748 ranking on 247sports.com.
There are currently 31 five-star recruits in the 2020 class. By the end of the 2019 cycle there were 34 five-stars, meaning that several players could have their rankings upgraded. Williams is in the mix for an upgrade, and the Oregon’s class rating would significantly benefit from it. An upgrade could give the Ducks a second defensive five-star player in as many years, showing the new commitment of the staff to playing top level defense.
Average Class Ranking
Last year Oregon fielded its third head coach in as many years. Coach Cristobal had to sell recruits on not only the school, but the fact that he would still be there come this season.
For top ranked recruits, this was probably a tough sell, as they want the chance to showcase their talents, not continually learn new systems due to coaching turnover.
2020 is going to be yet another historic recruiting class because Cristobal now has proof of concept for his offense and defense, as well as a full year at the school. Convincing recruits that he will be at the school in a years time is no longer an issue. Cristobal can now talk to players more about scheme and culture fit. This change should allow the Ducks to go after even more highly ranked players.
The 2020 class, though it holds only five players, holds an average rating of 0.9075 on 247sports.com. This is significant because the Ducks aren’t even close to filling out the class, and it sits firmly ahead of the 0.9060 of last year’s class.
If the Ducks can secure commitments from a couple five-star players, along with filling out the middle of the class similarly to last year, the 2020 class will easily surpass the 2019 class in average rating.
The Ducks had a historic class in 2019, featuring the highest rated player in school history along with a supporting cast of players that the Pac-12 hasn’t seen since USC was in its heyday.
The 2020 class is capable of beating out that class, with even more five-stars as well as another impressive supporting cast.
Yuma, Arizona Top Photo by Kevin Cline
Natalie Liebhaber, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in the financial technology industry in Bozeman, Montana.
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