At first, Oregon’s much-hyped “Saturday Night Live” recruiting camp appeared to be a bust. Attendance was low, and only a single prospect committed directly following the event.
But good things come to those who wait. A few days after Saturday’s festivities, the Ducks added several more commits, including perhaps their top overall target. They also generated some momentum with a couple of key uncommitted prospects, both of whom are candidates to “quack” in the near future.
Things started out slowly, but Oregon’s SNL camp has set the Ducks up nicely to put the finishing touches on what should be a top-15 class.
Prospects Are Flocking to Oregon
The first player to commit following SNL was the most surprising. Four-star offensive guard Jonathan Denis‘ name wasn’t brought up too often when discussing Oregon offensive-line targets. The Florida prospect has a star-studded offer sheet, with offers from regional blue-bloods Florida State, Florida, LSU, Georgia and Auburn. Although the Ducks have been recruiting offensive linemen nationally to make up for the lack of elite prospects in the West, snagging Denis from the heart of SEC territory was still quite a shock.
Denis is Oregon’s highest-rated offensive line commit so far. This is huge, as offensive line is likely Oregon’s biggest position of need. The coaching staff will gladly take the unexpected surprise of a blue-chip prospect at a key position.
The Ducks got a second commitment on the offensive line later in the week from three-star tackle Jaylan Jeffers. Jeffers has been one of Oregon’s top targets for a while. He plays for Saguaro High School in Arizona, a very successful, talent-rich school known for producing college football stars. Jeffers is a bit light at 260 lbs., so he may not be an immediate contributor. But with a good frame and solid athleticism, a year or two in the weight room could turn him into a force at offensive tackle.
TJ Bass joined the party as the third offensive lineman to commit to Oregon in the last week. According to 247Sports, the 6’5”, 330-lb. bulldozer is the second-ranked JUCO offensive guard. ScoopDuck predicts he’ll move to center when he enrolls, and if he does, expect him to be in competition for the starting spot next season. He’s not a flashy pickup, but he fills a huge need.
However, the biggest news of the week came when high four-star receiver Johnny Wilson finally shut down his recruitment and committed to Oregon. The 6’6” receiver has been a major Oregon lean for some time, but his recruitment has always been a bit mysterious. He recently took a few trips to Texas, and some buzz was building that the Longhorns were gaining some ground.
Luckily, those rumors were put to rest when Wilson “quacked” shortly after SNL. At the event, Wilson turned heads, with ScoopDuck staff members calling him “a difference maker all day long.” With rare size and top-notch athleticism, Wilson is a game-changer. He’s the definition of a “can’t-miss” prospect, and now he’s the Ducks’ highest-ranked commit.
The Ducks Aren’t Finished Yet
Not only did the Ducks get four commitments in the week after SNL, but the event helped them make good impressions on a couple of their other targets.
One name that has been surging as of late is Bennett Williams. The JUCO safety is currently unranked in the 247Sports Composite, but according to evaluators on ScoopDuck, he has the talent to be a day-one starter wherever he ends up.
And it’s not as if Williams hasn’t already proven that he can hang at the Division 1 level. He showed out in his freshman year at Illinois, earning ESPN.com Freshman All-American honors in 2017. On a team devoid of talent, Williams was the exception. He finished his freshman season with 64 tackles and had a team-high three interceptions.
But some off-field issues cut his time with the Fighting Illini short. After a three-game suspension to start the 2018 season and subsequent issues thereafter, Williams was dismissed from the program. He is now enrolled at the College of San Mateo, hoping to get a fresh start at a new Division 1 school in 2020.
The Ducks are doing their due diligence to determine whether or not Williams has grown from his mistakes. If he has — and they decide to take him — it could pay off in a big way. ScoopDuck reports that he was a cut above the rest at the safety position at SNL, clearly looking like the seasoned veteran among the group.
The good news is that as much as the Ducks want Williams, Williams is an even bigger fan of Oregon. In an interview with ScoopDuck, he continually praised the facilities and the family atmosphere of the entire campus. He acknowledged that the Ducks are his clear leader, although he’s still considering other schools. If the vetting process goes smoothly, expect Williams to “quack.”
Four-star athlete Elijhah Badger is a bit of an unknown, but he’s believed to be an Oregon lean. He’s listed as a wide receiver, but he can play cornerback too. Cornerback is where he played at SNL, and according to ScoopDuck, he impressed, keeping up with quick-footed receivers such as Oregon commit Kris Hutson.
Some expected Badger to commit during SNL, or shortly thereafter. But now, with radio silence on his end, no one knows when he’ll make a decision. Still, getting him on campus for the event was big. He’s still a Duck lean, but Oregon may be waiting a while longer to lock him in.
The goal of SNL was to get top targets on campus, see how they performed in person, and get a few commitments to round out what is nearly a full class. The Ducks did just that. Fan attendance could have been better, but at the end of the day, Oregon landed four key prospects and is closing in on a couple of others. Currently sitting at No. 13 in the 247Sports Composite team recruiting rankings, I’d say Mario Cristobal and his staff are doing all right.
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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