My GameDay article this week is not on Saturday, but today in order to ponder the results of Oregon Football recruiting with all of you. I understand some are disappointed with the results, especially with the recruiting class that Oregon enjoyed last year. The Ducks are not going to equal last year’s results, but also consider some perspective. These results are not a complete surprise, as we have watched this class trail prior classes for the entire 2020 recruiting cycle.
The two major reasons holding Oregon back this year are ones most hard-core Duck fans are already aware of: fierce west coast recruiting by schools east of us, and simply fewer prospects on the west coast that match-up with Oregon’s needs and culture. Schools from the SEC (and Clemson) have made their mark and are taking many of the lusted-for prospects, although Mario Cristobal has given them a fight. In the end, there are no excuses, as either the staff gets it done or does not.
So, this year was good, but not great. But how has Oregon done compared to the recent and intermediate past?
I have developed by own criteria over time and it has been a useful benchmark for gauging success or for providing comfort regarding the Ducks’ current class of recruits. First, I use the rankings of Rivals.com, as 247.com does not have a long history going back for us to compare, whereas Rivals does. Scout was reasonable in most their evaluations and has since merged with 247, but had some years in the past where questionable reports took place due to the ownership of Scout by a damn Husky. So Rivals is the benchmark that we’ll use with extensive stats and the most reasonable evaluations going back the most years.
I personally regard it as a great recruiting year when the Ducks sign at least eight players who are rated as 4-Star or 5-Star at their positions. By current standards that is lame, but prior to 2018 it was actually not achieved consistently (as shown below), and I considered it a great blend of the project players along with the highly coveted ones. Boy, have times changed in the last three years, as the results have dramatically increased as have our expectations for Oregon Football recruiting.
Let’s look at the recent year-to-year results from Rivals.com:
2020: 10 verbals thus far that are 4-Star or 5-Star players
2019: 14 signed as four or five Star players.
2018: 12 signed.
2017: 9 signed.
2016: 5 signed.
2015: 8 signed.
2014: 5 signed.
2013: 8 signed.
2012: 10 signed.
2011: 10 signed.
2010: 11 signed.
2009: 4 signed.
2008: 8 signed.
2007: 12 signed.
2006: 1 signed.
2005: 3 signed.
So, as you see above, Oregon’s current recruiting class is certainly not bad, and quite reasonable when compared to the past with my criteria. But it is not what we hoped for or expected with the current uber-recruiting-oriented staff. The Ducks began this week with 10 four or five-star players, but will probably lose Myles Slusher and Johnny Wilson by the end of today, bringing the total to only eight of the coveted players. The Ducks are going to need to strike gold and pull in two out of the remaining pack of Justin Flowe, Dontae Manning, Robby Ashford and Kelee Ringo between now and the end of the February signing period to remain at 10.
Chip Kelly, who was indifferent to the recruiting process and had a staff admittedly backward in social media, did as good or better in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Is it fair to ask the current over-hyped staff, “where’s the meat” (rhetorical question, not literal)?
A reasonable question emerges as well: “has Oregon recruiting regressed back to their mean” (perhaps the location has more to do with it than the coaches)?
One element always left out is the impact of transfers, such as Devon Williams, a massive receiver that broke our hearts when he originally signed with USC. Williams is a former four-star wide receiver, a transfer, and does not count in the standings. But like Juwan Johnson, he could have a big impact that is not accounted for in the recruiting rankings. Bryan Addison was another tall wide receiver transfer a year ago (from UCLA) who did not count in the recruiting standings, but clearly helped the Ducks and has a big career ahead of him.
FishDuck, did you FORGET the Second Signing Period?
Nope. But there a few unsigned recruits left after the December signing period, and a hundred schools pursuing them, acquiring a recruit in that environment is possible, but a low probability. Thus, that is why Cristobal pushes for an early signing in December by each recruit, so as to not allow the recruiting door to open to another school with a valued player. My attitude as a coach would be …“it is a December signing or nothing,” as relying on February has brought the Ducks limited success since the early signing period began.
Yes, I am aware that the four- and five-star players listed above are considering the Ducks … hence the question:
“Will Cristobal Beat a Good Bellotti/Kelly Recruiting Year?”
Yes … last year was exceptional, and it came off of a nine-win season; so how do you judge the results of this year from a staff known for recruiting?
Running Back Recruiting Is an Enigma …
The biggest surprise to me has been the inability of the coaching staff to attract the upper-echelon running back that Oregon fans have been accustomed to. Why a running back with a physical profile like a Jonathan Stewart or Royce Freeman wouldn’t be highly interested in the Oregon offense is a mystery to me. Perhaps some of you can enlighten me as to why the Ducks are not signing one of the best running backs nationally.
Perhaps, with the 7-6 and 9-4 seasons, the stature of the Ducks wasn’t high enough. I would hope that a Rose Bowl berth would satisfy the 2021 recruiting year recruits with the obvious upward trend-line of this team.
“Oh how we love to ponder Our Beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon Top Photo from Oregon Athletics Twitter
P.S. As of early morning of NSD….Washington is ranked No. 11 in the nation with Rivals.com while Oregon is 18th.
Letters of Intent Signed and Received by Oregon:
Jaylen Smith Def. Tackle Ahoskie, NC 6’4″ 260 Rivals 3-Stars
Bradyn Swinson Def. End Douglasville, GA 6’4″ 240 3-Stars
Jonathan Denis Off. Line Homestead, FL 6’4″ 280 4-Stars
Marcus Harper Off. Line Homewood, IL 6’4″ 290 3-Stars
Trey Benson Running Back Greenville, MS 6’1″ 203 3-Stars
Luke Hill Def. Back Baltimore, MD 5’11″ 170 4-Stars
Jake Shipley Def. End Indio, CA 6’5″ 270 3-Stars
Jaylan Jeffers Off. Line Scottsdale, AZ 6’6″ 256 3-Stars
Bennett Williams Def. Back San Mateo, CA 6’0″ 195 2-Stars
Jackson LaDuke Linebacker Sparks, NV 6’3″ 215 4-Stars
Jaden Navarrette Athlete Norco, CA 6’3″ 235 4-Stars
Jay Butterfield Quarterback Brentwood, CA 6’6″ 206 4-Stars
Kris Hutson Wide Receiver Bellflower, CA 5’11″ 170 4-Stars
Marceal Afaese Def. Tackle Kapolei, HI 6’5″ 270 3-Stars
Jared (JJ) Greenfield Def. Back Los Angeles, CA 6’0″ 165 3-Stars
TJ Bass Off. Line Orville, CA 6’5″ 300 4-Stars
Faaope Laloulu Off. Line Honolulu, HI 6’7″ 340 3-Stars
Justin Flowe Linebacker Upland, CA 6’3″ 225 5-Stars
Noah Sewell Linebacker/RB Orem, UT/Am. Samoa 6’2″ 266 5-Stars
Robby Ashford Quarterback Hoover, AL 6’2″ 204 4-Stars
Verbally Committed Players Not Signing Today:
Peter Latu Linebacker Spanaway, WA 6’5″ 210 3-Stars
Seth Figgins Tight End Eugene, OR 6’7″ 235 3-Stars
Spencer Thomas, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, is an attorney for the Social Security Administration in Atlanta, Georgia, and coaches football at Hillgrove High School in Powder Springs, GA.
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Charles Fischer has been an intense fan of the Ducks, a season ticket holder at Autzen Stadium for 33 years and has written reports on football boards for over 23 years. Known as “FishDuck” on those boards, he is acknowledged for providing intense detail in his scrimmage reports and in his Xs and Os play analyses. He and his wife Lois, have a daughter Christine, reside in Eugene Oregon, where he was a Financial Advisor for 36 years and now focuses full-time on Charitable Planned Giving Workshops for churches and non-profit organizations.
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