Ducks’ Recruiting Is Finally Coast-to-Coast Dominant

Alex Heining Editorials 53 Comments

Many fans feel unsettled by the lack of football in Autzen this fall and see this as a “cop out” season for the Pac-12 board, a “cowardly move” to avoid lawsuits. Missing out on some of our best players’ last seasons at Oregon may seem disappointing now, but head coach Mario Cristobal has prepared for this.

Sure, the Ducks have a few players forgoing the 2020 season (if it ever does come for the Pac-12) in favor of pursuing NFL careers. It would be easy to fault them, to feel robbed of seeing them suit up for a final 12 games this spring. But consider this: what would we be missing out on?

The Upside of No Fall Season

Star quarterback Justin Herbert has moved onto the NFL, leaving fans questioning the team’s future without a proven field general guiding the Ducks’ offense. With inexperience at quarterback, it’s fair to say most teams are at risk of faltering in the early goings of their season, leading to early losses and missed playoff chances. But in this “preseason” sort of setting, our current quarterbacks could get some much needed playing time, so is that really even an issue?

Via Kevin Cline

Quarterback Justin Herbert guides the offense against the Golden Bears.

A displaced and condensed season will, of course, be an exciting break from the strange times we find ourselves in, but our expectations of the on-field performance will likely dampen quickly. Assuming there is still a College Football Playoff, the Pac-12 would be out of contention by virtue of not playing through the fall anyway. With no championship hopes, I consider this season a chance to see the new recruits, an opportunity to gain insight into the future of the program and also valuable development time for players who are going to be filling the voids left by some of the Ducks’ best.

The Best Is Yet to Come

The 2020 and 2021 Duck recruits are beyond talented, and even without the likes of Penei Sewell, Thomas Graham and Deommodore Lenoir, Oregon has the potential to create an even more dominant roster than the 2019 Rose Bowl-winning team. Losing 17 seniors and a handful of juniors after the spring season will create ample opportunity for new starters and stars to emerge.

Coach Cristobal has transformed the program into one that can compete with the recruiting juggernauts at the top of the rankings. At the time of writing this, the Ducks’ recruiting staff has assembled a class ranked third in the nation through the 2021 season only behind the usual suspects, Ohio State and Alabama. Finally, the Ducks have a Keyser Söze of their own in coach Cristobal.

The Ducks were a high-tempo, energy-draining team that consistently put up 40+ points per game through the 2010s. They began to recruit at a much higher level in the 2010s, but they still weren’t able to beat the top teams in the nation. Top recruits like De’Anthony Thomas and Arik Armstead initiated a transitional phase. The Ducks went from a competitive West Coast team that could occasionally knock off a top 10 program to a perennial New Year’s Bowl contender, eventually competing for a National Championship (twice!).

Via Twitter

The 2020 Signing Day was one of the best in recent years.

But looking even deeper than that, the Ducks in recent offseasons have begun to snatch top-tier talent from all over the country. This is where we can truly separate and elevate to the level of a top 5 program, a place the Ducks have slowly been climbing toward for a long time. The talent pool is growing week by week, filling the empty roster slots left by our departing NFL talents.

Recruiting Beyond the West Coast

The Ducks have been able to consistently accrue stars out of California through their dominant West Coast presence, and it’s no different in the 2020 class. But to secure a five-star cornerback from Missouri in Dontae Manning, two four-star recruits from Alabama in Robby Ashford and Jayson Jones (how’s that, Crimson Tide?), and a four-star guard out of Florida in Jonathan Denis means the program has truly risen to a new level. Justin Flowe may not end up even being the most impactful addition from the 2020 class.

The 2021 class will be no different for the Ducks, as they have commitments from four-star recruits out of New York, Colorado, Mississippi and Utah. The key difference between these classes and those in recent years is the kind of players the Ducks are getting from the East Coast, luring top athletes away from SEC country.

COVID-19 and the lack of a fall season gives us Duck fans the perfect opportunity to remember how far we’ve come since Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich, even though they were able to give us some of the best Duck seasons in recent memory. Cristobal and the Ducks’ recruiting staff are forging a new national image that is not going to simply go away with Sewell, Herbert and other departing players.

The Ducks are here to stay, and the star recruits of old look to have nothing on the Ducks’ future classes.

Alex Heining
Santa Barbara, California
Top Photo from Twitter

Andrew Mueller, the Volunteer Editor for this article, works in higher education in Chicago, Illinois.

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To really gauge the relevancy of the Pac-12 you just have to be watching ESPN now that the Big Ten has announced that the Big 10 is going to start up again, after postponing along with the Pac-12. “Ohio State will be right in the middle of the championship.”

But not one word about the Pac-12 not announcing any plans of returning. Mostly because nobody noticed the Pac-12 wasn’t playing. If anything shows how little influence the Pac-12 carries it’s this. I’ve seen talk on other Duck sites that playing in Winter or Spring could work, it would be the only one playing.

People didn’t watch the games because they were on too late already, and really would any of us be excited to watch the Cal @ Arizona game? Or any of the others leading to what exactly?


Not getting in to all the legalities & contracts and such right now, but I feel like the Big 12 would be a nice fit for Oregon. The Ducks are a brand, despite being up in the corner of the pacific northwest, Oregon has a national following. Oregon has leverage if it wants to use it; Oregon leaves, the Pac-12 collapses.


I always thought the Big Ten would be the landing spot but since you bring it up the Big 12 could work just as well, except for West Virginia. That’s a long flight to get there/here to play.

The Big Ten has 14 schools already and the Big 12 has 10 schools.


As they say, “6 of one, half dozen of the other”. Since I do think the Pac might really just sink if Oregon were to leave, some could go to the 10, others to the 12. OSU.WSU could join up with Boise State.


Yea, I suspect only a few Pac-12 schools would be acceptable to a P5 conference. Others would stay as a depleted Pac-12 or get absorbed into other “Group of 5” conferences. You’re right, USC and Oregon would be the big prizes. Maybe Arizona State because of its basketball program.

Jon Sousa

Two thumbs up on the article!

On the news topic of the day: What will stop Oregon State and who knows how many California schools is the lack of indoor facilities to practice in. Air quality is hazardous and it is impossible to practice outdoors.

We all agree that Oregon vs. tOSU would have been cancelled because of the smoke. That same smoke is lingering. Hopefully a half an inch of rain will fall in the valley this week and clean it out, but if the fires still rage in spite of it the smoke will be back.

One solution, short term, is that maybe Oregon can share the Mo with the Beavers.

One thing for certain is that the California schools can’t practice indoors. I don’t know the air quality at the different schools, but it can’t be super.

So, even if the PAC 12 decides to start in October, some schools still will not be able to practice.


I applaud all coaches and staff involved in turning our recruiting into the envy of the PAC 12. It is entertaining to read some of the troll comments on recruiting websites from the puppy and south central fans that are very jealous. They constantly predict that our top recruits won’t commit and will end up at their school.

Recruits consistently say that the Ducks were their favorite team growing up. Obviously, our high powered offense, and success from over a decade ago set the table. (has it been that long ago…sigh) Being one of the highest scoring teams on the Madden football game from that era actually has helped recruiting…lol

Hope to see this staff stay intact for a few more years. Should be fun to watch.


If Larry doesn’t act then his job has to be on the line. The amount of money being lost is in the 10’s of millions. There isn’t just a leadership void, it is a vacuum, a black hole.


Don’t forget Larry took a 12% salary pay cut, as compared to his employees 10% cut. The Big12 commissioner only took a 10% salary cut. I suppose Larry realized he was going to lose even more money for the Pac-12 and provide less leadership?


Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought Larry’s pac cut was just temporary.


Temporary until he starts making the money which was coming in, I hope. At that point he loses his job or maybe even before, the guy isn’t making it happen. He is just reacting to others and hiring consultants to tell him what to do.

Jon Joseph

As I recall, 3 months in duration.


Pathetic, is becoming the redundant response to anything Larry. After 3 months the Pac-12 can again afford his salary?

Jon Joseph

I think Larry’s cut was for 3 months?

Jon Joseph

Thanks Alex.

New QB = Ls? Depends on the QB and the program. Trevor Lawrence in 2 years at Clemson has lost 1 game. Ditto, Fields last season at Ohio State.

The B1G is playing ball starting the weekend of 10/26. The B1G will play an 8 game conference only season. The big break through, same day testing. You know, the testing Larry bragged about 10 days or so, back? Are the presidents of the B1G schools less concerned about its student-athletes than the Pac-12 Prez? No. They studied the situation and with same day testing have decided that playing is an acceptable risk.

Forget CFB for a moment, CBB in the Pac-12 is not going to be played in 2020?

All of the recruits you mentioned in your article are ‘in-play.’ If the Pac-12 is the only P5 conference not to play this season will all of these ‘commits’ sign up?

I don’t get it? BYU can play but not Utah? If CA will not allow the 4 Cali schools to play then the other Pac-12 schools should play on their own.

Mario has to be frustrated beyond belief.

Under Larry Scott’s ‘leadership’ the conference will likely decide to play just in time not to qualify for the playoff.

Folks are bailing out of CA left and right. Oregon needs to bail out of this conference.




I think the consensus is the Big Ten. Too much travel time for the other conferences I would think.


Were you thinking Big12 and it auto corrected to Big Ten?

Jon Joseph

The B12 is the logical ‘merger’ candidate. Likely with IA ST and W VA left behind along with OR ST and WA ST.

18 teams. 9 each in the E and W division.

Santa Rosa Duck

Jon, I think the three governors of California, Oregon and Washington have big problems right now and that is fire. Perhaps I am wrong but I doubt that restarting the season is high on the radar screen.


Off subject: The Big Ten announced it will start the football season Oct 23-24. That leaves the Pac-12 as the odd man out and irrelevant, unless it also makes a change soon, which I suspect is in the making.


Gawd I hope so.

Jon Joseph

I was off on the B1G 10/26 start date in my comments above. Thanks for the correction.

Sit out all of 2020? This will be a huge negative when it comes to getting ‘committed’ recruits to actually sign on.

Meanwhile, Larry fiddles in San Francisco as the conference burns. Larry mouths off about the same day testing protocols and it is the B1G that based on such testing, decides to move forward?

‘Leadership’ in the Pac-12 is an oxymoron.

Come 2024, not playing in 2020 is going to incent media companies to come with new block buster broadcast deals?

With the SEC kicking off the last week in September and the B1G in October is anyone nationally going to give a whip about the Pac-12?

The conference plays no basketball in 2020, how many teams in a truncated season will be invited to the tournament?

COVID is disrupting CFB practice and the playing of games; it is not killing people in the player’s demographic.

But does anyone out west care about playing or not. B1G player’s, their parents, fans and a number of ADs were outraged at the B1G deciding not to play and expressed this outrage.

All you hear out west is a whimper.


All you hear out west is a whimper The way I had worded it was hunkered down in a corner holding up a sign that said “please don’t sue us”.

Mike West

Nice point BDF.

Question for you: if ANY player ends up suing, what do you think the impact to all of college football (basketball?) would be?


After spending 5-10 years in the courts I think it would be diminished to the point of non existence. I wonder why the other conferences aren’t as scared as the Pac-12 ?? LSU reported that they now think that almost every player has had the virus at some time.

So now if the Pac-12 follows the Big Ten what does that say about their fear of litigation ?? Acceptable risk – maybe, or “stupid” but we have to take the risk anyway – maybe.


The PAC 12 should follow. Watching games being played in winter weather kind of stinks. Let’s get this wagon train rolling.


That is news. Larry Scott taking some sort of action WOW. And without hiring expensive consultants.


Surprise, the Pac-12 has made an announcement about the coming season. I think a sheep in a flood could lead better than Larry.


Yep, the Pac-12 motto, “Better Than Nothing!”


Like Gomer Pyle use to say, “surprise, surprise, surprise”


Thanks very much, Alex for highlighting the huge upside of Oregon football in this frustrating time. Some don’t really pay much attention to recruiting; preferring to wait to see the players on the field. But for now recruiting is what we have, and it’s going great!

Now, this could be petty; I was cruisin’ through the ‘net the other day and I came upon a Husky page, and the headline in big block letters, “Huskies get 3* TE”. I couldn’t help but chuckle a little. The way that MC has come in and made getting blue chip’s from across the country the new normal at Oregon can’t be overstated. That it directly impacts the purple things from up north negatively makes it that much sweeter.

Santa Rosa Duck

I think 30Duck gets a penalty flag for using the word Husky. Alex thanks for the write up. I like your style but “Keyser Soze”??????


I did type, “Hussies” originally, but auto-corrected. I’ll cease that in the future.

Jon Joseph

I’m going to wait until signing day(s) before celebrating the incoming class. Especially, if the Pac-12 is the only P5 conference not to play ball this year.

The negative recruiting will be off the charts.

The B1G is kicking off an 8 game schedule on 10/26. So, the Pac-12 on its own is going to play football come the spring?

Once again the conference is looking more and more like a P5 outlier.


“Outlier” is a nice way to describe what the Pac-12 will be if they go through with the Pac-12 Intramurals in the spring. Right now, the Pac-12 would have to face the appearance of being the Big 10’s lap dog, following it around. But, now it looks like Larry isn’t going to be satisfied with that.

Duck lifer

Good take. The conference is embarrassing. We need a commish who will lead our conference to greatness, not mediocrity.


Nice take on the subject of recruiting, Alex. Thanks for putting it together.

I like your attitude of “…considering this season a chance to see the new recruits …”. Although I will miss not seeing that championship defense we had all lined up, but like you say the replacements are not shabby.

With all these fantastic recruits, the main thing now is to finally see them in action, and that includes our new offense schema. Here’s hoping we can keep everything together here at Oregon for a decade or two so we can enjoy our spoils. There is opportunity for a lot of other changes coming up, with possible conference changes for some schools, TV rights changes, Pac-12 leadership changes, etc. that will keep us on our toes. However. so far under MC all things that he can control are being handled very well.


I hope they are using this opportunity to practice like gangbusters and get to know the new offensive systems in place like the back of their hands.

I feel assured that whatever happens, MC will have the boys ready to rock.


I think you are right and I’m looking forward to seeing them.