Is Oregon the New Destination for Nation’s Top Linemen?

Jordan Ingram Editorials 31 Comments

I never thought I’d live to see the day when the Oregon Ducks football team became known for developing some of the nation’s finest talent in the offensive trenches. Growing up in the 80s, it felt like the Ducks’ offensive line was more decorative than utilitarian. Running lanes were quickly clogged with faster and stronger defensive ends, and nearly every play resulted in a quarterback scramble.

Ah, the good ol’ days.

I’m only kind of joking. The Ducks obviously had their shining moments in the late 80s and 90s (Thank you, Bill Musgrave!) but the point is the Ducks were never known for having big, bruising linemen who pull charter buses and buttered their donuts. BIG BOYS, like Conrad Dobler (nicknamed “NFL’s Dirtiest Player”), Randall McDaniel and IronMike Webster.

But that all changed with Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal, an offensive lineman and two-time national champion with the Miami Hurricanes, and Alex Mirabal, Oregon’s offensive line coach and high school teammate of Cristobal. Now, linemen leave Oregon NFL-ready, including Shane Lemieux (New York Giants), right tackle Calvin Throckmorton (New Orleans Saints), Jake Hanson (Green Bay Packers), right guard Kyle Long (Kansas City Chiefs) and of course, Outland Trophy winner Penei Sewell (Detroit Lions).

And the future prospects look pretty darn good. Oregon recently hosted five-star recruit Kelvin Banks Jr., a 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive lineman from Humble, Texas, who is rated the nation’s No. 2 offensive tackle.

They develop o-linemen,” Banks told 24/7Sports. “That’s the o-linemen school. If you’re going to go there, you have to be a great o-lineman.

Word on the gridiron is spreading fast. Coming soon is top-rated JUCO commit Percy Lewis who blocks the sun at 6-foot-8, 360 pounds.

It’s pretty cool. Based on my past experiences, I’m still getting used to the idea that Oregon might very well be the destination for the country’s biggest and strongest trench warriors. Is Oregon really the new school of choice for offensive lineman? What other prospects would you like to see don the green and yellow?

Jordan Ingram 
San Diego, California
Top Photo by Sean Meagher 

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Anyone else hear about the ASU recruiting violations.

George Wrighster iii on twitter is insisting that these are only the tip of the violations and that ASU was also paying players as well as committing other NCAA violations.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Holy Crap! The violations are so numerous and blatant that the penalties are going to be severe.

Listed in the article is Prentice Gill, who was an offensive analyst at Oregon who left to coach at ASU. His career will now be toast…


If Wrighster is right and they actually did pay players then the team is going to get burned by the NCAA. ASU will be nearly death sentenced…

The odd thing to me of all it is that coaches from my understand usually don’t report on their old team because that means they are also admitting to some of the same violations. So the old coaches must have really been upset to go to the NCAA.

I remember Prentice, he tried to make a stink when he left because he didn’t get a rose bowl ring(even though he left before oregon played in the rose bowl).

Jon Sousa

Thanks Utah. I don’t see how Herm Edwards is not toast.

Seeing Shaw’s comments on the situation, throws a huge cloud over the whole “PAC 12 coaches are all good friends” thing. I don’t see anyone in the PAC 12 getting close to Herm any time soon.

Final note: How is this going to affect the power structure of the South division? ASU will play next year, but will their wins be vacated later? Soon enough to make a difference in the standings? Long term, I see dark days ahead for ASU…. Sad…


Oh yeah, Herm Edwards is gone. That’s a forgone conclusion. Maybe even the Athletic Director, especially if Football isn’t the only sport that did this.

The recruits will also be barred from going to ASU, so that’s also a thing to consider. Any of them that committed are back on the market, and to keep their eligibility they’ll be required to cooperate with the investigation.

As for the balance of power in the South, I definitely they’re out of the running there. But that’s not the only consideration. The Covid violations will possibly cause them to look at every other team that had more than one game cancelled because of Covid issues in their program. At least I think they will. ASU could be the tip of the iceberg as far as that goes.

Jon Sousa

I just very much enjoyed this video of behind the scenes of Penei Sewell getting drafted. Seeing the excitement in the Lions draft room and the emotion coming out of Penei was awesome. 6 minutes of that video should be shown to every O-line recruit who has dreams of making it to the the League.

Jon Joseph

Thanks Jon. Good stuff!

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I like the recruiting on the O-Line, and I love the vibe. I just wish for greater results from the recruiting and hype….

Certainly hope to see improvement from an up + down 2020.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I am referring to the entire time that Cristobal has been head coach, as rushing, scoring and precise execution on offense has dropped off significantly from what it was before.

(Oregon was the first NCAA team to average 45 points a game for four years straight under Kelly and Helfrich)

Even the Willie Taggart year with an injured Justin Herbert being out for so many games averaged more points per game than every one of Cristobal’s teams to the present.

Taggart: 36 points per game average, with a Herbert tied behind his back.
Cristobal: 34.8, 35.4 and 31.3 points per game.

If we had a choice between hype and results….?


Results! Show me! Talk is cheap! Just do it!
😁 :-P

Scoring points is the new era! It puts the other team at a disadvantage when they have to abandon a ground and pound offense and have to throw passes to catch up!

J Duck

We have a pretty good O-Line history, especially in recent years, and definitely on the right trajectory! An elite O-Line and lock-down corners can take you places. Our secondary and LB’s are getting better and better, and deeper and deeper. WR and QB look to have talent and depth like we’ve NEVER had. TE looks good, special teams…serviceable.

What’s left? It’s linemen, but the D side I’m worried about, not the O side. Our O-Line will make RB’s look good even if they aren’t quite at the level of LaMichael or Royce, it comes down to MC being a smart game manager, and letting Moorhead do his thing. Physical is there with teams like Bama, Clemson and tOSU, but nowadays so is the spread/RPO.

Oh, and the D-line. KT will go down as one of the greatest, and we seem to be attracting high level talent for the ends. We’ve had the likes of Buckner and Armstead (both doing superb in the NFL) but the one piece I see a need for is another Haloti to bring elite talent to the 0 or 3 technique. That’s something those other 3 schools have.

Auburn had it in the Natty in 2010. C’mon JT, the quack is calling and you are the last piece.

Santa Rosa Duck

Recruiting has been on a great upturn since Mario showed up. No surprise to any one here that he has a special focus on the offensive line. Maybe he can get his buddy “The Rock” to add some star power in the recruiting area. GO DUCKS!

Jon Joseph

BUMMER! USC just pledged its 2nd 5 star recruit. 5* DL Mykel Wright out of Columbus, Georgia joins 5* Domani Jackson in ‘committing’ to USC.

Interesting that recruiting continues to improve under Helton. IMO if Helton does not at least win the South in 2021, he’s gone.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

It is stunning, because if Oregon had a lame-duck coach … it would hurt our recruiting incredibly. USC rolls on regardless of the coach or the result!

Jon Sousa

Helton has turned the corner on recruiting. He is making some good hires. If he hangs on two more years (very possible) he may end up taking USC back to the promised land.


He has been there 7 full seasons as head coach. We can only hope he keeps lasting. The guy defines leadership like Putin does to comedy. Sorry if this crossed the political border.


Helton has been on the hot seat for awhile now. Perhaps making to the Pac-12 championship game saved his job….and now that recruiting has picked up his future seems safe….at least until the Trojans start underperforming.


Let me be the first to say Steve Greatwood was one of the greatest assistant coaches Oregon has ever had. He took kids who weren’t 5* or even 4* recruits and made them a functional team of offensive lineman. Sometimes he even turned one into an NFL talent.

He also took kids who weren’t 6′ 8″ 360lbs and made them weapons in the scheme he taught.

I love what Cristobal is creating with the new O-line. This will allow us to compete better against the big powers. Great article and ponder point!


Greatwood was a fantastic coach. Both him and Campbell were! I’d argue even under him our offensive could still be a weakness vs some of the bigger built teams. 2012 stanford comes to mind and the national championship against Auburn.

I can just imagine greatwood coaching up the current pool of Oregon Oline, that would likely be unstoppable.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

The fact is–Oregon’s scoring average has dropped incredibly since Greatwood and the original Oregon Spread Offense left. Oregon won like-nine conference rushing titles in a row, and not won a single one since Greatwood left.

That says a ton…

Jon Joseph

Thanks Jordan, great take.

6’5″ 300 lbs; 6’8″ 350! Is there a bed on campus big enough for these guys?

A friend of mine, John Sande, played center at Stanford, blocking for Jim Plunkett the year Plunkett won the Heisman. Stanford went to the Rose Bowl in 1970 and upset Ohio State. John’s playing weight? 220 pounds.

50 years from now, will 300 lb. O linemen be Lilliputian?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Incredible. It is hard to imagine them getting much bigger than what we see now.

I agree. But I can recall when 250 lb OL guy was mammoth.


I went to Cal……and as a kid I sold programs at Memorial Stadium in the mid – fifties when I was 8 years old. Cal had a linemen, Proverb Jacobs, who at 235 pounds was considered a beast. Now 335, and up, seems to be the trend.


I think the current coaching staff probably talks extensively about developing offensive linemen when recruiting for several positions. That message starts to mean something as our players move on to the NFL. Kids are smart, they will do their own research.

Being known as a team that develops offensive and defensive lineman would be a great foundation for the team. How about tossing in a few top running backs to go with our QB’s and receivers.

When you look at our recruiting over the last few years, we have obviously done very well. If we get an NFL caliber QB and RB playing at the same time together, we will make some noise at the National level.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Why the big-time running backs do not flock here is a mystery….


Probably because they take one look at the “pistol plunge” and just say NOPE :D


Building an offensive line that is big, deep and skilled is foundational to consistently fielding championship teams.

The author is correct that the failure to consistently achieve that objective has been an Achille’s heel of Oregon football.

Living where I do in the Carolina Upstate area 40 miles from Clemson and 80 miles from UGA I see much more news about ACC and SEC recruiting than many Ducks fans.

I live adjacent and very near the honey bucket treasure trove of linemen recruitment talent in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida, along with with not so distant Mississippi and Louisiana.

Oregon has never fielded linemen of the pedigree and stature it is now stockpiling. Coach Cristobal’s reputation and focus have driven this run that will propel Oregon football.

If you look into the OL signings at Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Ohio State, LSU, Oklahoma and Florida you will see that Oregon is not yet the leader and still in the second tier of talent. The Ducks do not sign entirely .90+ rated classes of linemen. So things can get better yet at Oregon.

Coaches Mirabal and Cristobal are an amazing duo who impress and endear recruits. How the O line continues to develop and how Oregon recruits in the future is a storyline to follow.

Oregon is not trying to one-up Washington, USC and Boise State any longer, but to compete and win against LSU, Georgia, Clemson, and Alabama to become a national champion. That arms race starts and ends with the hogs on the trenches.

Jon Joseph

Great comment.

The same type of guy’s who played O line for McKay back in the day at SC do not seem to be coming out of California like they once did?

Getting into Texas to recruit makes sense. As does signing some of the top guys out of Arizona and continuing to mine CA.

Ducks now one of the 16 CFB teams with a Blue Chip Ratio. 56% of this season’s Oregon roster is made up of 4 and 5 stars. I expect this % will continue to grow in coming years.

The top 3 teams in the 2021 Blue Chip Ratio: Bama 84%; UGA 80%; Ohio State 79%. (They’re getting antsy in Athens!) Your ‘neighbor’ Clemson, 67%.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

You give us a significant insight from where you live, for us to learn that this new wave of highly rated O-Linemen still have us in the second tier.

Boy we have a ways to go!