Depth-building, culture-setting three-stars are the lifeblood of every college football program. Even Alabama signs its share of these prospects. But let’s be honest, it’s the five-stars that really get the blood pumping.
Luckily for Oregon fans, the Ducks are closing in on a couple of five-star prospects, one of whom would be their second best wide receiver commit in program history. Johnny Wilson, a critical target for the Ducks, is in Oregon’s crosshairs. But another program has entered the mix, making what once looked like a drama-free recruiting battle a little more interesting.
Johnny Wilson, Matchup Nightmare
At 6’6”, 220-lb, Wilson possesses rare size for his position. His expansive catch radius is a massive asset, allowing his quarterback a much greater margin for error. And with few defensive backs even close to Wilson’s size, he doesn’t need much, if any, separation to be effective. Even if technically well covered, Wilson’s typical six-to-seven-inch height advantage allows him to high-point the ball well beyond the reach of even the tightest coverage, making him a viable target in any situation.
But Wilson is more than just a big target. His highlight tape shows him out-muscling defensive backs for 50/50 balls, deftly boxing out cornerbacks on fade routes, and gaining separation off double moves against man coverage. Wilson’s verified 4.59 40-yard dash time suggests he’s a fantastic athlete for his size.
247Sports compares Wilson to former Texas A&M receiver and current Tampa Bay Buccaneer Mike Evans. While Wilson still has a long way to develop to Evans’ level, he has a similar toolset that will allow him to succeed in any system.
Oregon Leads, but Texas Is Closing In
Wilson has been a relatively quiet prospect, making his recruitment tough to track. We do know, however, that Wilson is a big fan of the Ducks. In an interview with Recruiting News Guru, Wilson called his visit to Oregon’s spring game “insane,” lavishing praise on the coaching staff. The 247Sports Crystal Ball currently has Oregon as the favorite, with 60% of the predictions in favor of the Ducks.
While most experts, including 247Sports and ScoopDuck, have the Ducks in front, the University of Texas is really making a push. Wilson is coming off of his second visit to Texas this summer, and Texas insiders on 247Sports report that Wilson’s most recent visit has started to turn the tables. One article labeled the race as “close to a 50/50 coin flip.”
A big factor in Wilson’s commitment will be his confidence that the respective coaching staff will be able to develop his unique skill set. Wilson has identical size to current Longhorn receiver Collin Johnson, who finished the 2018 season with nearly 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns. An LA Times article claims Wilson is “enamored” by the way Texas has utilized Johnson. And like Wilson, Johnson is from California.
Despite Texas’ surge, Oregon likely remains the favorite. As ScoopDuck notes, Wilson’s return visit to Oregon for its “Saturday Night Live” event in late July will be critical. The Ducks will no doubt put on the full-court press in an attempt to secure Wilson’s commitment.
The Ducks Can’t Miss on “Most Important” Target
Wilson is a premier talent who would instantly upgrade the talent level of any program. But for the Ducks, Wilson’s commitment is particularly critical.
While the Ducks had a terrific haul of elite wide receiver prospects in 2019, replenishing the talent-starved position group will take a couple more years of elite recruiting to get it where Mario Cristobal and Marcus Arroyo need it to be. By now, fans are familiar with the excessive drops that Oregon suffered in 2018. But the Duck receivers struggled with more than just holding onto the ball. They lacked the size, speed and overall talent to consistently threaten secondaries.
Prospects like Wilson are exactly the type of players whom the Oregon coaching staff needs to field an elite passing attack. Big-play, game-changing receivers can take an offense to the next level. Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross have thrived at Clemson, overpowering a Nick Saban-coached Alabama secondary in the National Championship Game. And the CFP runner-up has its own elite receiver in Jerry Jeudy, who is in the discussion as the first overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft.
Wilson has a similar ceiling to these players. If Oregon wants to compete for conference championships and playoff appearances, elite weapons on the perimeter are going to be a necessity. That’s why both ESPN and 247Sports have labeled Wilson Oregon’s “most important prospect” remaining in the 2020 recruiting cycle.
And while Texas is pushing hard, Cristobal has proven he’s capable of hanging with the big boys. This race might be closer than the experts initially thought, but that doesn’t mean the Ducks are in trouble, or even behind. Wilson’s an elite prospect, and Oregon knew it would ultimately need to fight for his commitment.
So buckle up and enjoy the ride, because the battle for Wilson is just heating up.
Morgantwon, 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.
Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.
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