The Ducks had themselves a very successful first day in the Early Signing Period with a majority of their top-ranked recruits signing their letters of intent to continue their athletic and academic careers in Eugene. This marks the second straight year Mario Cristobal has been able to secure a top-20, nationally ranked recruiting class.
Many Oregon fans are still anxious to hear about highly sought after recruits Dontae Manning and Kelee Ringo. It has been noted that the two players are going to wait until the beginning of January to make their final announcements. With that said, there is still a lot of optimism the Ducks will land both Manning and Ringo. They both have taken numerous visits to Eugene and all indications say they have gone well.
Should there be a concern these two Oregon targets are not announcing during the Early Signing Period? No, there is no indication that Oregon is not still in the running. It’s not uncommon for recruits to take a little extra time to decide and commit on a later date. The Under Armour All-American game has also been a historically big day for commitments. Some players also like to hold their own events to announce their commitment and where they signed their letter of intent.
To end the anxious discussion on what we don’t yet have, at the conclusion of day one, Oregon has over 20 signees, and here are some notable recruits who put their commitments on paper.
Go with the Flowe! In stunning fashion, in the gymnasium of Upland High School, California’s number-one outside linebacker Justin Flowe reached for an Oregon Ducks hat after a quick tease of a Miami Hurricanes hat. This marks the second year in a row the Ducks have landed California’s best prospect. Kayvon Thibodeaux committed to Oregon in the 2019 cycle and, like Flowe, left hometown team USC with their hands in their pockets.
Flowe’s recruitment has been a bit of a whirlwind and was very up in the air until the recent days. Early indications were showing that Clemson was a clear-cut favorite for the linebacker, but as Flowe started to take more visits, his decision became more translucent. In the final days leading up to Wednesday, it seemed more like a ping-pong match between the Ducks and USC. Oregon was a favorite, but nothing was certain until Flowe reached to his right and donned the green and yellow cap.
Flowe is number nine in the ESPN top 300, and his commitment marks the sixth player from the top 300 to sign with Oregon this year. The future of the Oregon linebackers is just getting started with the commitment of Flowe, another signee that will be discussed later, and with four-star commit Keith Brown making his way to Eugene in 2021. Oregon’s defense is going to be something to be feared.
Ducks fans rejoiced when they scored their second five-star recruit in as many years. The Oregon defense improved with the commitment of Noah Sewell.
The Utah native was highly sought after and could’ve handpicked his school. Toward the end of his recruitment, the battle seemed to be mostly between Oregon and Utah. The hometown school was appealing, but an opportunity to play at Oregon, link up with his brother Penei Sewell and possibly start as a freshman essentially sealed the deal.
His reputation and play have been well documented. Many Oregon fans believed Sewell was always going to commit to the Ducks, and his post-state championship announcement had fans holding their breath. Breath easy now, Sewell is now officially a Duck.
Oregon went to the East Coast to secure this four-star recruit from Baltimore, Maryland. On Wednesday, Luke Hill confirmed he is in for the 3,000 mile trip across the country by signing his letter of intent.
This four-star cornerback was heavily sought after by Michigan and Clemson as well as Oregon. The early indications where that Hill was going to commit to the defending National Champion Clemson Tigers. You can now put that claim to bed because Hill will be a Duck in 2020.
Oregon fans should be happy with this signing because they have gained an all-around solid cornerback who could see some play as early as next season. The Ducks are already strong at the safety and cornerback positions, but this just made them that much stronger and, maybe more importantly, deeper.
Oregon’s first signee of the day came all the way from North Carolina in Jaylen Smith. Cristobal’s recruiting efforts from the Southeast seem to be working because the Ducks scored a very talented, four-star defensive end.
Smith was expected to sign with the Ducks today after making his Twitter announcement on December 4 stating,
“My whole life I’ve always had something to prove. Every situation I’ve been in, I was the underdog. Everything that I have now was given, it was taken. Eugene will be my home. Recruitment 100% shut down. Let’s make history.”
His level of motivation and commitment toward the program could soon make him a fan favorite.
How about some offense? Well, Oregon got some with the signing of quarterback Jay Butterfield. The quarterback position has a lot of heads turning for obvious reasons. As it would stand right now, Tyler Shough is the most likely option to replace Justin Herbert behind center. Freshman Cale Millen could also be waiting in the wings; however, Butterfield can add an element of familiarity to this offense.
The Bay Area native is of similar stature to Herbert, standing 6’6” and weighing just over 200 pounds. He plays a pro-style game with a big arm. Butterfield is a four-star who has been committed to the Ducks since May. However, with the recent announcement of Marcus Arroyo becoming the new head coach at UNLV, there was some skepticism whether Butterfield would indeed remain with the Ducks. Yesterday’s signing put those concerns to rest, and Oregon has found themselves yet another solid quarterback.
Oregon has landed a Junior College transfer signee, as Bennett Williams made it official he is taking his talents to Eugene. This is an underrated signing from a kid who has a solid resume. This defensive back has two years of college football under his belt, attending the University of Illinois his freshman year before he was dismissed from the team, subsequently finding a home at the College of San Mateo.
After his freshman year at Illinois, he was named an ESPN Freshman All-American, and he was a JUCO First Team All-American after his only year at San Mateo. It could be because of his JUCO transfer status that he’s not getting as much of the spotlight of some of the incoming freshmen, but this is certainly a big addition to an already strong secondary.
Out of the 22 commits the Ducks had entering Wednesday, there was a notable but predictable flip in wide receiver Johnny Wilson. He instead signed his letter of intent to attend Arizona State. This was predicted after former Oregon offensive analyst and touted recruiter Prentice Gill took a job on Herm Edwards’ staff. One of the more surprising flips of the day was defensive back Myles Slusher, who signed his letter of intent with Arkansas after verbally committing to the Ducks. It isn’t very apparent what caused this flip, but it is an interesting one, to say the least.
The main takeaway from yesterday is that the future is bright in Eugene. Oregon’s football team and culture improved with the players who signed, and fans should be excited to see these kids progress and in their respective football careers. A point of emphasis is that this group of freshmen is going to be battle tested right from the get-go with the second game of the season against Ohio State. It is certainly going to be exciting to see what these young men bring to the table.
Eugene, OregonTop Photo by Kevin Cline
Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.
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