Oregon Wins: Pac-12 is Becoming Top-Heavy with Talent

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials 36 Comments

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A phenomenon that has never included Oregon is occurring before our eyes due to recruiting skills of Coach Mario Cristobal and his staff, and I was stunned at the recent numbers illustrating this trend. It has a profound impact on the future of the conference and begins to beg the question of “whether the Pac-12 is becoming the ACC of the West?”

My friends, when I was released from site responsibilities–I had no idea that such a pent-up-writer within me would emerge. This is the sixth article in seven days, and not many of these were planned; I just had things to say and I’m having a blast just being a writer again!

Well that, and getting a kick from looking at recruiting results versus the rest of the conference. As usual, USC does extremely well and almost always does, yet Oregon has broken a recruiting ceiling that might wake up other ADs around the conference when they hire coaches. They will need to or be buried in the very near future as they will watch every Pac-12 Championship contested by the Ducks and Trojans.

My rankings come from Rivals.com, whom I prefer and you can learn why right here. This is stunning recruiting momentum over a three-year period that I suspected was taking place, but not to this degree for Oregon.


The Califlock impact on prior recruiting classes has been quite REAL for the Ducks.

Team                  Total Number of 4/5-Star Players Signed in 2019, 2020 and 2021

Oregon                                 45
Washington                       30
USC                                         29
Arizona State                   15
Stanford                              14
UCLA                                     10
Utah                                       10
Cal                                              7
Colorado                                6
Washington State            2
Oregon State                       1
Arizona                                    1


While the Huskies only had six of the 4/5-Star players signed in 2021, they had 24 signed under Chris Petersen the prior two years. USC did superbly last year with 17 signed of the 4/5-Star players, but only had 12 total the two years before.

For the 2021 class, Oregon had 19 and USC had 17 of the 4/5-Star players signed, while the rest of the conference only averaged signing 2.3 of the coveted players is all!

Thus far for the 2022 recruiting class, Oregon has nine of the 4/5-Star players verbally committed, USC has six verballed and the rest of the conference averages 2.1 of these most desired players among each of them. (Washington has three and Stanford has five, and yet it is still bad news for tiny-ten in the Pac-12 as an average in 2022 recruiting to date.)
Please post your thoughts about this article here on FishDuck, in the comments below. I will not be responding on other sites, as I need to keep things a bit active on FishDuck. Thank you!
When I write my Op-Eds, I do Critical Analysis where I give grief when deserved, (like the Oregon offense) but also I give credit when due, as I see it. And Oregon’s head coach deserves an absolute ton of credit for what he is creating.

The talent gap is growing massively for 2021, and so far in 2022. Over the last three years of Coach Cristobal’s era, he has not achieved not a small lead in talent acquisition, but 50% more over the top two challengers? My gosh, he is killing it beyond what I could even imagine; I’m glad he’s on our side!

Eugene Johnson

Mario Cristobal is creating victories on the field from his triumphs on the recruiting trail!

I had checked preliminary numbers prior to starting this article and was thinking that Oregon and USC were running away from the conference in recruiting as Texas and Oklahoma had done in the Big-12. I was wrong, as Oregon is already building a lead similar to what Clemson has in the ACC, and what the Pac-12 used to look like so many years ago with USC. It was the giant and the rest of us, but guess who has become a GREEN GIANT now in Pac-12 recruiting?

And it is not even close.

“Oh, how we love to ponder about the recruiting of Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Oregon Football Twitter

Next Article is tomorrow!

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I had to shut down the daily articles on July 20th because I could no longer work the extra 3 to 12 hours per week of certain managerial/editorial duties. (beyond the usual ones with FishDuck)

I’ve had a blast writing without those duties, and now, due to a new agreement with the writers, I can announce that we will have articles seven days a week again. I wish to thank the writers publicly for their graciousness in coming to a solution, as now I still do not have do those extra duties with our agreement, and meanwhile the writers are back having fun creating articles as I am.

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Recruiting is not complete UNTIL they start getting some top notch interior defensive (and offensive) linemen. They need more EDGE players than just Kayvon, who is leaving after this year. That is all I have to say on this topic.

Foreman and JTT would have been the next step in getting better at recruiting. You can only put so many 4 star WRs on the field at one time. Lots of big misses at linebacker this year too.


I’d argue offensively they are already getting top rated IOL. in the coming class Dave Luli is the number 9 guard nationwide(247-#10). last year they pulled in the number 5 center jackson powers-johnson(light)(247-#14 IOL). IOL just doesn’t getting the ratings that OT’s do coming out of highschool so they hardly rank as high nationally.

no argument on dline. although Grace Halten looks to be the real deal. If oregon closes with Moss WDE(rivals-#4 and 247-#4) as well as lucas DL(Rivals-#7 and 247-#10(this is top 100 player in both systems) the Dline will close out really really well.

As for LB, it just isn’t nearly a big position of need this class. Per 247 oregon has offered 16 LB’s in 2022 vs 38 Dline, 35 receivers(WR and TE), and 28 Oline. also looking at the last few classes oregon has pulled 2- five star LB’s in 2020(both rivals and 247) and 1-four star(rivals only). 2021 say 2-four stars and 2-stars(both rivals and 247).

2022 has TJ Dudley a mid 4 star in both systems. and oregon is high on a few other 4 stars still remaining in the current class. as for big misses, oregon has really only missed on 5 star hicks who is going to ohio state and lives in dayton ohio.


These articles recently have gotten me pumped up for the start of football at Oregon.

One comment regarding Fresno State. The game against Oregon will be the second of the season for the Bulldogs, as they open on August 28th against UConn in Fresno. It has been noted that a big jump typically happens between game 1 and the next.


The “Green giant” of Pac12 recruiting?!? Ho, Ho, Ho!!!
Great stuff Mr. Fishduck.

It is truly amazing that this coaching staff changed things so rapidly. I was convinced we could only get this kind of talent with shadow boosters and C. Newton type $.
But I’m so glad I was wrong.

The new track complex is amazing and will help encourage 2 sport speedsters to come to tracktown/football field greatness.

Less than 2 weeks till opening kickoff,
Let’s go Ducks!!

David Marsh

The mentality of recruiting has changed at Oregon. Partly due to Cristobal at the top but also due to every single head coach that came before him.

Brooks got Oregon pointed in the right direction.

Bellotti got Oregon to some of its highest points and really put Oregon on the map. Also hired a guy called Chip Kelly.

Kelly revolutionized offense at Oregon and when paired with the cool uniforms it was truly a special time. Got Oregon’s first Rose Bowl victory in about a hundred years and first National Championship appearance… and first undefeated regular season.

Helfrich did a lot of good for Oregon, despite what people say, he won the first CFP game ever and gave Oregon another National Championship appearance and helped coach up Mariota to win Oregon’s fist Heisman.

All this was done with average to above average recruiting. The mentality was Oregon would get an occasional five star and a handful of four stars but never own the PAC in terms of recruiting. It was all about finding the right players and the best fits for Oregon. And Scott Frost was absolutely right about Oregon’s recruiting.

Taggart brought some swagger to the program and then left.

But it is Mario Cristobal who knows how to recruit at a high level and just cannot be out worked. Cristobal is even breaking into the State of Washington which is something that has been very very difficult for Oregon to do historically.


Hayward field is just one of the many items which have made recruiting at Oregon easier. I think the magic was Cristobal saw what recruits see, and few coaches understand what drives the student athletes. Fortunately our greater benefactor has been in tune with that age group for decades, and has done more than all of the guys you mentioned combined for recruiting and the University of Oregon.

David Marsh

And uncle Phil was kind enough to get the ball rolling with an indoor practice facility… something that seems small but once the rain comes it is really unpleasant to have to be outside every day that long in the rain.


I am somewhat concerned that with the athletes now able to make money from their likeness that the teams in the bigger markets will get an overwhelming advantage. There is just more money in L.A. and Miami and deals will be made.


That is a very good point. Jalil Tucker mentioned Oregon helping with NIL was part of his decision to choose Oregon. I believe Cristobal and company have wisely jumped in front of this to assist the players all they can.
You are right about more opportunities in larger markets though. Hopefully our coaches will continue to make Eugene look like home.

David Marsh

Oregon has a whole program built around NIL now. The Nike connection makes Oregon keeps Oregon in play with some of the other big cities.

David Marsh

Oregon may very well gain a lot more 4 star recruits this cycle with updated rankings. Last year was very bad for recruiting rankings because some high schools didn’t even have seasons or much of one. So a lot of players are ranked lower than they would normally be.

This is across the board right now and hopefully a relatively normal high school football season will see some of these rankings get bumped up for the Ducks.

The other thing I would like to mention is that both Washington and USC have at least one dud if a class. USC’s 2020 class was awful and that class are still freshmen in terms of eligibility. That class will stick around with them for 4 more years.

Washington has the last couple of years that aren’t so hot. They are really still living off their Petersen classes which have been granted an extra year due to Covid last year. However, what happens when they leave?

To compete at the highest level a team’s worst class really needs to still be a top 10 class.


I just found a week that I feel will be an entertaining one: Oct.2: Oregon at Stanford, ASU @ UCLA, USC @ Colorado, WSU @ Cal & UW @ OS; UW is coming off a home game against Cal, the Beavs are back from a road game against USC. Time for Lake to hit the bottom @ Reser.

J Duck

USuC had some top recruiting classes after Pete Carroll and finished 8-4, 7-5, I think the year the AP had them #1 in August they finished 5-7 with a Heismann favorite QB. I love the MC recruiting obviously, and I think his staff is outstanding. Can he orchestrate all of it into a Natty? I sure hope so, 2021 will be a litmus test of sorts I think

Not to speak harshly of Chip, to whom much credit is due. But as to the canon of coaching, a case could be made that Mario surpasses Chip.

Mario would not have scorched the football world like Chip did back in 2009 if he’d been in charge. But it wasn’t Chip’s acumen that led Oregon to the heights in the 2010’s. I don’t think Chip all of a sudden forgot how to coach when he took the job at UCLA.

Mario is a work in progress. So far the boxes are checked, some work needs to be done. I don’t even think where he’s short is a mistake, he has a plan and he’s going about achieving it, incrementally. Chip was never going to recruit seriously. Mario is not locked to the Prevent Offense. When he has an offense he thinks is capable of producing like Alabama’s, it will.

Synchronicity @ FishDuck!


Cristobal’s promotion to head coach was helped in part by players in the locker room. His message and positive energy connects well with the players of today. It also connects with the talented coaches he has attracted to be part of his staff.

My impression of him from afar is that he is willing to outwork the guy next to him and lead by example. Work harder than your peers and good things happen is a solid premise to become successful in any endeavor.

Cristobal is a work in progress as a head coach. While he may not be perfect, he has been instrumental in bringing Oregon back to football prominence the hard way, by long hours and hard work.

Santa Rosa Duck

This is the year that it all comes together. Great recruiting, great coaching and great game day presence. We are starting a 10 year run IMHO.

J Duck

65-38…no roses for the beefers


The presented facts paint a picture of an overwhelming stockpile of talent.

Oregon has historically mastered the “X’s and O’s”, but been short on “Johnny’s and Joe’s”. No more!

Coach Cristobal has led the remarkably changed recruiting charge. He has instilled a vision and recruiting culture that resonates with prospects. He has remade his staff with coaches who recruit in his mode.

As fans we will follow and watch top-tier football players, and see our Ducks in more games of national importance.

Our coaches are relentless. Recruiting is nonstop. I can only imagine how hard they are working and how satisfying it must be for them to realize the results of their labors.

The media has recently been focused on the changes happening now and coming soon in the college football landscape. Ducks fans are honing in on the current team and the coming years of Oregon Football in the flight of elite teams.

Go Ducks!


Which raises the question, which new student athlete is the one you are most curious about? Who do you want to see hit the field?

The previous seasons it has been the defensive player, Noah, Justin, and of course Thibs. This season it is the offensive guys. I am actually curious which one of these new guys has Heisman watch talent going forward.

Of course Ty is at the top of the list, but he may not see the field too often. Seven is also right there, we may have a DAT, LaMike type back you can’t miss a moment of when he is on the field. Again he may not see the field too often, but when he does watch out. Lastly it is the receivers, Franklin, Thornton and maybe Brevard, who is going to become are new threat, go to guy?

Exciting times to see the new blood start to pulse through the programs systems!


A great article, Mr. FishDuck! What is really fun about it is that is unlikely to change in the near future. Herm had a chance to make some noise at ASU, and they seemed to pluck every WR a few years ago, but they never really challenged Oregon or USC.

It might be that Chip has come to appreciate recruiting a bit more than he did at Oregon. But UCLA is still a basketball school ( and they don’t recruit as well as Oregon does there either), so they might take some 4 or 5’s from the Trojans, but I doubt will actually challenge for the top.

Washington? It’s so much fun seeing them cheer about getting the 3* OL! Now of course a 3* can turn into a great player. But, we’re talking about perception here, and the 4’s and 5’s aren’t thinking Washington when they spread the hats across the table.

USC has history and location, and they’re still behind Oregon. Bush & Leinart know this, so do the columnists. The Brand at Oregon is real. The top players now see being recruited by Oregon as validation.


“The top players now see being recruited by Oregon as validation.”

That’s very powerful and is earned.