Oregon is stacked at quarterback for the foreseeable future. Even though current starter and likely first-round NFL draft pick Justin Herbert will be gone after this season, the Ducks have former four-star prospect Tyler Shough and intriguing true freshman Cale Millen on deck. Furthermore, the Ducks recently secured a commitment from top-100 prospect Jay Butterfield, one of the best high school quarterbacks in the country.
With plenty of quarterback talent on hand, it would be understandable if Oregon decided to hold steady on the recruiting trail and stick with the players on the roster and its 2020 commit. But the Ducks aren’t finished recruiting quarterbacks just yet.
There’s a West Coast prospect who recently tore up The Opening Finals and is now firmly on the radars of blue-blood programs across the country. Oregon already has one blue-chip quarterback in the 2020 cycle, but could a second be on the way?
CJ Stroud: The Late Bloomer
Three-star quarterback CJ Stroud entered The Opening Finals and the Elite 11 Finals with little fanfare. The 6’2.5”, 194-lb. Californian has a pretty underwhelming offer sheet, and not many expected him to light it up in 7-on-7s, especially with some of the best quarterbacks in the country at the competition.
The lack of buzz on Stroud was warranted, to a degree. His junior season numbers were pretty mediocre, and he’s not a physical specimen like some of the other top prospects at the position. But what often can’t be seen on tape are things like processing speed, poise and just how easily the ball pops off of a passer’s hand.
At The Opening Finals, there were other quarterbacks who were faster, larger and more physically gifted. But Stroud was the clear-cut top quarterback among the group. He was an absolute stud, torching opposing secondaries and effortlessly zipping passes to his talented playmakers all week long. Scouts at the event lauded his natural arm strength, accuracy and poise.
According to 247Sports, he threw for 12 touchdowns — four more than the next closest quarterback — and threw just one interception during the event. He was a clear choice for both The Opening Finals and the Elite 11 MVPs.
Just a couple of weeks ago, no one considered Stroud one of the top passers in the country. Now, after his magnificent performance at The Opening, he’s in for a major ratings boost, and programs across the country are taking a closer look at him.
Oregon Wants Two Quarterbacks?
So here’s Oregon’s dilemma: the Ducks have a commitment from one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Butterfield. Butterfield has big-time potential, and he looks to be the future of the program. The Ducks don’t want to ruffle any feathers; keeping him committed and getting him signed is a priority.
But, according to experts at ScoopDuck, Oregon’s coaching staff has been looking to add a second quarterback for some time. This may be a surprise to some, but it’s never a bad idea to add more talent. With Herbert leaving after 2019, the Ducks will have just three scholarship players at the position if Butterfield signs. In today’s era, with transfers rampant and injuries prevalent, it would be wise to add another talented body to provide depth and to compete for playing time.
Initially, according to ScoopDuck, the thought was to add a developmental prospect, or perhaps secure a commitment from a transfer. Apparently, one-time Oregon commit Colson Yankoff, a four-star prospect who enrolled at Washington in 2018, was someone the Ducks were keeping an eye on. However, he transferred to UCLA to play for former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly.
Stroud is one of the “developmental” prospects whom the Ducks have been scouting for a while. Stroud said the following about Oregon and offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo an interview with 247Sports:
“They’ve been recruiting me since after my junior season. [Arroyo’s] always kind of kept interest in me, and I’ve been growing up watching Oregon my whole life. Marcus Mariota is one of my favorite quarterbacks. The things they’ve done with Justin Herbert is really cool. I feel like that could be a good fit for me.”
The Ducks knew that they would likely land a bigger name this cycle, as they were in the running for five-star DJ Uiagalelei before landing high four-star Butterfield. But, with the potential to take two quarterbacks, Oregon has kept the door open for Stroud.
This was good scouting and foresight on the part of the Ducks coaching staff, as they now have a leg up on the bigger programs that are just beginning to look into Stroud after his breakout performance. But the challenge will be convincing Stroud, who will assuredly be picking up a fourth star in 247Sports’ next ratings update, to join a recruiting class that already has a top-flight quarterback commit.
Stroud doesn’t seem too keen on the idea of being the second quarterback of the same cycle. In an interview with 247Sports, he said:
“[Signing in a recruiting class with another quarterback] is not something I would like, but you don’t know what could happen in this recruiting game. I don’t want to burn any bridges. Keep everything open. You never know; somebody could decommit or feel that’s not the place they want to be and my spot opens up.”
Furthermore, Oregon will have to convince Butterfield that he should still sign despite the potential addition of a second quarterback. A situation like this has to be managed carefully. If the Ducks play it right, they could land two elite quarterbacks in the same class, which is unheard of. But if things get messy, they could miss out on both.
It’s Baylor or Washington State … For Now
Although the Ducks are high on Stroud, they haven’t offered him a scholarship yet. In fact, no “blue-blood” program has. Michigan State, Baylor, Cal and Washington State are Stroud’s best offers right now, with Baylor and Washington State being the favorites.
But don’t expect that to be the case for much longer. Oregon is clearly interested, with ScoopDuck reporting that the Ducks are “recruiting him hard.” Also, Ohio State, a recent thorn in Oregon’s side on the recruiting trail, has started showing interest.
Stroud is a fan of both programs, saying the following about them in an interview with 247Sports:
“Those are schools I have always grown up liking. Those are schools I really think I’d fit at well. I think they have great head coaches, great men.”
Stroud’s recruitment will be an interesting one. With plenty new offers likely on the horizon, it’s as if he’s undergoing a brand new recruitment, this one involving way more premier programs than the first.
Right now, of the big-name programs that are after Stroud, the Ducks are near the top. If Cristobal can pull this one off and sign two four-star quarterbacks in the same class, it would be one of his biggest coups yet.
Morgantown, West VirginiaTop Photo From Twitter
And a special thanks to the experts and insiders at 247Sports and ScoopDuck, who provide fans with the best and most in-depth Oregon recruiting news in the industry. Subscribe to each of them for premium content and the most up-to-date recruiting news.
Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester, Tennessee.
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