Early February has traditionally brought a host of emotions to Eugene. Optimism in the form of a handful of four-star recruits potentially keeping the upward momentum of our beloved program at a steady climb. Frustration following an announcement from a high-end prospect who had stayed in constant contact with coaches, and held the fan base close in tow until the end of the recruiting cycle, only to sign somewhere else. Well, today is not that day, my friends. Oregon has arrived and is here to stay.
For the second consecutive year, head coach Mario Cristobal has engineered the Pac-12’s top recruiting class, which sports three of the four five-star recruits to sign in the Pac-12 (linebacker Justin Flowe, linebacker Noah Sewell, and cornerback Dontae Manning). Nationally, barring an unforeseen shift in rankings, the Ducks should finish with a Top-10 overall-rated class, thanks to a late poach and an undisputed hold on the recruiting hotbed that is southern California.
Speaking of poaches, Cristobal continued to leverage his SEC-area connections, flipping Alabama defensive line commit Jayson Jones (4-star from Calera, Ala.) in the waning moments of this year’s recruiting cycle. A longtime Alabama pledge, Jones visited Eugene earlier this month, and the tide appeared to shift at that time in favor of Oregon. Jones announced his signing on Twitter, and will be ready for fall camp once he graduates later this spring.
“(Oregon) can help me thrive as a person and also as a player,” said Jones. “Being around the coaching staff made it very comfortable for me.”
While Oregon remains in the hunt for a few other unsigned prospects and with the ever present drama that is the junior collage transfer market in play, Jones nonetheless appears to be one of the final pieces of the 2020 class. With his letter of intent, Oregon’s class includes 21 signed commits and two transfers. (See below for video highlights of each signee.)
Offense – 4-stars: quarterback Jay Butterfield, quarterback Robby Ashford, athlete Jaden Navarrette, guard Jonathan Denis, wide receiver Kris Huston, wide receiver Devon Williams (transfer from USC). 3-stars: guard T.J. Bass, running back Trey Benson, tackle Jaylan Jeffers, guard Marcus Harper, tackle Faaope Laloulu,
Defense – 5-stars: linebacker Noah Sewell, linebacker Justin Flowe, cornerback Dontae Manning. 4-stars: cornerback Luke Hill, defensive end Jayson Jones. 3-stars: defensive tackle Maceal Afaese, defensive end Bradyn Swinson, defensive end Jake Shipley, linebacker Jackson LaDuke, defensive tackle Jaylen Smith, safety Bennett Williams (transfer from JC College of San Mateo).
“The (football) staff did a great job solidifying and getting our guys signed,” said Cristobal. “I see playmakers that are legitimately guys who could challenge for playing time right away.”
During a flurry of interviews and appearances, Cristobal also alluded to the work he and his staff have made in regards to pursuing members of the 2021 class and beyond.
“There’s so much to do and the calendar has now been pushed up a year,” said Cristobal. “We’re off to a great start for the class of 2021 … it doesn’t stop.”
Fresh off a Rose Bowl victory, Oregon landed offensive lineman Josh Simmons (4-star) upping the 2021 haul to seven hard commits, including that of nationally top-rated linebacker Keith Brown (4-star) and running back Seven McGee (4-star). There is a slew of interest, and visits from prospects are already in the works for the coming months. Autzen Stadium’s visitor list will be a who’s who of the high school elite this coming fall, and continued success on the field will bring all the more success in recruiting.
While other Oregon coaches have swung and connected with several marquee recruits in the past, during their tenure Cristobal and his staff have put together arguably the most impressive run of quality recruits ever in Eugene, having signed number one-rated recruits from eight different states. What a three years it’s been!
The southern California recruiting pipeline now runs directly to Eugene, almost entirely bypassing USC. As of late today, the Trojans are set to finish outside the 2020 top-50 recruiting class rankings.
Let that sink in, folks: Oregon has won the West. Now, we march on the East!
Salem, ORTop photo Tom Corno
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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