Like a lot of Oregon fans, I was surprised when I heard the news that Brock Thomas, a quarterback from Eugene’s Sheldon High School, committed to the Ducks as a preferred walk-on.
After all, Thomas was not only not recruited by any of the “big-boy” programs, he was not offered a scholarship from any Power Five school. His list of offers includes schools such as Navy, Portland State, Northern Arizona, Eastern Washington and Air Force. He is slight of build at 6′, 165 lbs. and while 247sports has him listed as a three-star, many of the other sites do not even have him rated.
Long story short, he is the type of kid who has “small-time program” written all over him.
So, why would Thomas not accept a scholarship from one of the smaller programs? He could most likely immediately compete for a starting position. Then, if he lights it up for a year or two, he could hop in the transfer portal and sign on with a major-league program.
Before the NCAA changed the transfer rule allowing athletes to not have to sit out a year, this is most likely the path that a player like Thomas would have taken. He would avoid the risk of getting buried in the Oregon depth chart and never seeing the field. And, if he decided to transfer, would have to sit out the dreaded year that curbed many players in the past from transferring.
Obviously, a guy like Thomas has a ton of confidence and belief in himself to compete at the highest level; otherwise, he probably does not pass up a scholarship and an immediate chance to play at the smaller programs. But, with the new, not-sitting-out-a-year transfer portal, it has given the lightly-recruited guys an immediate chance to see if they measure up at the highest level — and without any real downside.
Thomas can spend a year at Oregon, and if he measures up then he will get a scholarship and stay. If he does not, then he can hit the portal after a year and go to one of the schools that originally offered him a scholarship. All the while, he will be getting a year of some of the highest-paid coaching in the land and learning precisely what he needs to work on to hopefully make it back to the Power Five. And, he can do all this without losing a year of eligibility as it is about a 99.99% chance that he red-shirts.
As a kid growing up in Eugene, like myself, Thomas no doubt always dreamed of playing for the Ducks. So, whether it pans out for him at Oregon or not, he can always say that he was a Duck.
The transfer portal: making more and more childhood dreams come true since 2021.
The major expansion moves are over for now. Other than San Diego State and possibly SMU to the Pac-12, this cycle is done.
I bring this up because I keep reading comments on various websites from readers who still talk about things like the four corner schools moving to the Big 12, or the Pac-12 stealing away a few of the top Big 12 schools, or Oregon and UW going to the B1G.
No, no, and no. It is over, folks.
All other conferences are locked into the 2030s and exit fees are too high for programs to swallow. Even the big-time programs.
As far as other schools often mentioned to join the Pac-12, Boise State brings nothing to the table as far as television viewers, and Fresno State is arguably redundant to the Cal and Stanford northern California television market. Neither one would increase the payout per school, and that is what it is all about. The only school that could possibly garner interest is UNLV, and this would be a defensive move to lock down the Las Vegas market for the Pac-12 from any potential invaders.
Outside of the Pac-12 adding a team or two, expansion is over for now; let us accept it and move on.
Top photo credit: Twitter
Natalie Liebhaber, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in the technology industry in SLC, Utah.
Darren Perkins is a sales professional and 1997 Oregon graduate. After finishing school, he escaped the rain and moved to sunny Southern California where he studied screenwriting for two years at UCLA. Darren grew up in Eugene and in 1980, at the tender age of five, he attended his first Oregon football game. His lasting memory from that experience was an enthusiastic Don Essig announcing to the crowd: “Reggie Ogburn, completes a pass to… Reggie Ogburn.” Captivated by such a thrilling play, Darren’s been hooked on Oregon football ever since. Currently living in Spokane, Darren enjoys flaunting his yellow and green superiority complex over friends and family in Cougar country.
FishDuck Going to Articles on Monday and Tuesday Only…
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