by DSH contributing writer Eric Sloat
Another National Signing Day has come and gone, across the country fans are caring more about stars than any astronomy major does during finals. It’s great when your team has a galaxy full of them, but it really isn’t as important as ESPN, Scout and Rivals all want people to think it is. It’s a hook that “experts” can use to grade a team’s class, but quickly becomes irrelevant when the season gets underway.
Oregon’s class is rated in, or just out of, the top 20. The Ducks did great with the skill players, Royce Freeman, Jalen Brown on offense, Mattrell McGraw, Arrion Springs on defense all committed early and stayed with Oregon. Budda Baker reversed fields and ended up staying home and will be a Husky. Juju Smith came so close to picking up the Ducks hat, but in the end went to USC. The Ducks were not able to address the biggest problem going into next season, namely getting big guys to come to Oregon.
In the Duck we trust: Surf the websites, but remember, recruiting is just one part of the picture in developing a winning team.
Oregon has developed a brand name that now gets them in the front door of recruits who wouldn’t have had anything to do with Oregon 10 years ago. They plucked Jalen Brown out of Arizona, Tony James is from Gainesville, Florida. That is great; but it highlights the problem that Oregon cannot solve; Oregon doesn’t grow football players, especially not big, fast ones. USC, Alabama, Texas, they get top 10 classes and don’t have to leave their zip code
Oregon has become one of the most successful teams because it evaluates and develops players as well or better than any team in the country. Marcus Mariota, LaMichael James played much better than the stars by their names said they would. Taylor Hart, Michael Clay, Kiko Alonzo, none of them were projected to have much impact.
History tells us that this class will show brighter in the years to come than it appears to now. Next season the offense should be as explosive as ever, Freeman and James both have running backs coach Gary Campbell grinning as he thinks about the depth and versatility he’ll have to work with. Jalen Brown joins a likewise deep receiving corps. On the offensive line, Hanitel Louisi, Tyrell Crosby, Braden Eggert all look solid, but it would have been a major haul if the Ducks could have landed one more of the OL’s that were in their sights. Oregon’s magic of developing players will have to materialize with the D line prospects. Tui Talia is a JUCO and should be able to contribute immediately, but Jalen Jelks, Henry Mondeaux and Austin Maloata still need to add size and of course experience before they become major assets. More than the new players coming in, the success of next year’s defense will be the changes new DC, Don Pellum makes to the system.
Overall I’d give the class a B. It could have been higher if a few of the recruits had come to Oregon, but the future looks bright for many that did choose to be Ducks; and that has worked very well.
That's a pretty fair assessment, the B rating. But O is going to have to crack the top 10 someday and stay there, if they are going to continue to compete for a National Title. The B grade reflects the fact that O is not getting star recruits at enough positions to fully address all their needs. But things are improving and the recent success on the field is a lot of the reason why. Go O!
Amen Dale. While the disappointment of not getting a few big names fades, the realization that Oregon does more with less than almost any other team out there keeps me excited for next season.
It's just stars and people's opinions on talent. Nobody knows class rankings until 3 years after they're in school.
"The Ducks were not able to address the biggest problem going into next season, namely getting big guys to come to Oregon." Crosby- 6'5 300 Egert 305 Lousi 300 Malaota 295 Talia 285....possibly Ratu at 315. Is that not big anymore?
I thought MH seemed more professional, and less like a stand up comic, this year in his recruiting wrap up speech. There were only two incidences where he reverted to slapstick to get his point across, once when he said his wife would have liked to marry George Clooney and once when he joked about losing his hair. I wish MH would remove the word "dude" from his interviewing vocabulary. As to recruiting, like Michelangelo once said, " It ain't what you start out with that counts, it's what you wind up with". Hopefully, we can mold these talented young men into championship football players.
Dale, I have not been able to post because of livefyre. So here goes.I am excited not only about Royce Freeman, but also Devon Allen the Red shirting State Champion High Hurdler from Arizona next year
@goducks58 Thanks gd. I think the 2014 is loaded and has a big upside. Not sure about 2015 and beyond, but it's all part of the adventure.
@GaryMcAuley Ultimately that's the case, Gary, but there is a correlation between stars and team success. Alabama has won the recruiting top rank for six years, and most of the national champions have had two or more top 10 classes.
The Ducks have succeeded in their own version of "Moneyball" in the past few years, putting together five top ten finishes with classes that come in around 15 to 25 typically.
I'll write more about this in the coming weeks, and I invite your input. Sometimes I wonder if the Ducks window isn't closing. The uptempo spread isn't the unique mystery it was in 2007-2009. They can't sell the offense as hard, because so many teams are running it. Optimistic about this coming year with outstanding leadership, the nation's best quarterback and a veteran offensive line, but what happens in 2015 an beyond. Not sure.
@lexusduck They did reasonably well on the offensive line with three big, strong guys, but they probably would have liked a 4th, just missing on Nick Gates, Chris Brown and Quinn Bailey. Talia and Maloata are nice players, but neither is a true, ready-to-play nose, and they missed on Trey L, Poona Ford, Clinkscales, Courtney Garnett, and every one else they offered on at DT.
They'll have to make this work. But if we're being honest, the Ducks needed one more 300-pounder on both sides of the line, and Helfrich said as much.
@lexusduck I think Helf himself said they wanted 1-2 more bigs, and they may get one more in DT Ratu Matifileo and possibly another, perhaps juco DT Gus Ferrat or an OL guy. Eggert can also play on Dline, as he did both sides in HS. Maloata is 291, good news, but could get bigger still. Talia is 270 but could add more as he's all muscle. Though the late offers on Dline were bothersome, all is not lost by any means.
As someone posted on another site, Ken Woody pointed out that in those November losses, the lines' pad level was too high and they got out-leveraged. That is a coachable fix. I think those two losses and even the almost lost Civil War will not be forgotten this spring, fall and season.
I really like this class and Remember November!
@duckified Df, it's appears they helped themselves and met needs with this class, and there are some good athletes. Harrison, Lousi and Talia should help right now, and Brown and Freeman are likely to, I believe, probably Springs and Swain. I like Crosby's, Nelson's, Hollin's future.
Every coach is going to have his own style, and Helfrich is always going to try to diffuse and deflect with humor. I have no doubt he is very committed and takes his job seriously.
That Michelangelo was a smart dude. :)
I agree that MH seemed more “professional” in his wrap up this season. Part of that is he is one year in to it now, and we are all one more year removed from the MH /CK contrast.To me it seems that neither MH or CK like talking, but both got through it in very different ways. Definitely agree with you and Micheangelo that it is what you end up with that matters, not what you started with.
@deep south duck DSD, the livefyre issues should be cleared up--Derek from Bloguin put in a fix a couple of weeks ago. Allen and Freeman have a world of talent, Allen among the fastest on the team, Freeman built like a super-charged tank.
@deep south duck Upon review of the 2014 Ducks stable of RBs and WRs, it's almost not fair, esp. when captained by a 23-3, 3rd year starting, Heisman-worthy, dual threat QB and a mostly intact Oline. Just need a reliable game-ready back-up QB.
@deep south duck Agreed deep south duck. Not much has been said in general about our redshirts from last year but we have some strong talent joining the active squad this year.
Eric, thanks for your insight, always appreciated.
@Dale Newton Reasonably well? I'd argue excellent. Lousi is 300 lbs with college experience. He's game ready and the #1 Juco guard in the country. I'd wager he could've gone to any school in the USA and we landed him. That's not chopped liver. Crosby comes in around 300 also, the #1 player out of Nevada. Egert is just massive. The O-line is the strength of the team this year. We have young studs chomping at the bit behind the starters also in Hunt, Andre Y, Voeller, Piscarik, Prater etc.
Talia could be a true DT, 6'5 280ish... he looks like a body builder the dude is cut out of granite and limestone. We need big guys who are ALSO ferocious. Wade K and Ricky were big but not that physical and didn't move well. It's more than just the need for a big DT. Trey was disappointing but he's a 3-star player. No disrespect to LMFAO but he wasn't ranked top 50 as some 5-star freak. Rivals has him at the 26th best DT. With that ranking why would we be bummed about adding Ratu and not Trey? The other DT prospects are on the other side of the country so not too surprising. Maloata goes about 295 today, that seems like DT tackle weight to me. Coach Rad can get him to 305 quick which is bad news for the other team. He has a crazy motor we don't normally get guys like him. We do need 1 more DT and our guy could be Ratu who plans to visit. He will commit on the spot once the paperwork is sorted out (Uncle Phil will help there) Dale, if we land Ratu this becomes a strong overall class and a very good outcome for both lines. For 2015, if you haven't already look at Jacob Daniel of Fresno. BEAST. That's what we need.
@rgyle @lexusduckadding Mafileo and Ferrat would help the depth. That's the biggest concern to me, Arg. Right now that they don't have the numbers on the front to survive the rigors of the PAC-12 Conference. Big guys will get dinged up over the course of the season. Hope they address those leverage issues and improve technique. and have a "Big" package to counter Stanford's. That made no sense to me last year.
@Ducko30 @duckified That's really interesting that you two have those perspectives, because I actually wanted to see him more upbeat. He doesn't need to say that every guy on the list is going to be all-conference, but in some ways it doesn't hurt and the optimism is infectious.
Also, does anybody else find it strange how critical we all are of MH's personality?
@duckified @atvinton@Ducko30I think the players respect and trust him, and he has demonstrated a firm hand on disciplinary issues. The best coaches in college football infuse a team with their message and personality in a powerful way, and we're still finding out if Coach Helfrich has that kind of drive and vision.
@atvinton @Ducko30 @duckified The head coach's personality is a very important thing as the team takes on his personality. If the head coach is goofy and unfocused, the team will reflect that and do goofy things that cause damage and be unfocused. Stand up comics have their place but it's not on the sidelines.
I would like the coach to act like a well disciplined professional so the team will reflect that.