I recently had a very long discussion with Matt Prehm of 247sports.com, knower of all things Duck recruiting. We discussed ranking, philosophy, Helfrich, 5-stars, and the coveted Robinson Twins. The following transcript should answer all of your pressing questions. If it doesn't, email me firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will track down your answer.
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Matt, what has happened with recruits since the swift shift of power to Mark Helfrich?
Helfrich has taken a more active approach the last two weeks as head coach than what Chip Kelly seemed to be doing. Now, I'm not sure you can say that will be the norm under Helfrich because of the timing of the promotion for Helfrich to signing day. Oregon had to act quickly, and Helfrich has basically taken his entire staff across the country seeing commits and recruits.
So, the Ducks 2013 Class. Where Will It Rank?
I'm not sure, but everyone's going to complain that Oregon's recruiting class isn't on par to where it was in previous years, but they also don't realize that Oregon has, like 65 freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores on the roster. So there's not a lot of scholarships to give. (Case in point: Bryan Bennett's departure opened up a spot for the top receiver out of Phoenix, Devon Allen, who jumped at the chance).
When you look at Oregon's recruiting class on 247 Sports, they're outside the Top 25. For Oregon's standards, coming off four straight BCS games and two back-to-back wins, they should be in the top ten.
What I look at is the Average Rating Per Recruit. Those are the rankings I like. The basic ranking systems say whoever has most points will have best class. But some teams like Texas A & M have close to forty recruits. Their rank will be a total of all their recruits' rating combined. So when you sign forty players, some with a 91 rating, you're obviously going to have more points than everyone else.
Now when you look at the average rank per recruit, Oregon goes from say 31st to 15th. So Oregon's recruiting class is is doing well, it's just smaller than normal, which people are used to.
Well aren't potential sanctions also having an effect?
People will say it has a negative effect. I'm not trying to say it isn't. Because it is.
Why Does Oregon Seem To Find Success in a Late Push?
They did really well and closed really well last year (18th in our rankings). They're always known to be the team that, come December/January, and do a really good job. It goes all the way back to Belloti. Dennis Dickson came in late. Haloti Ngata came in late for his off visit.
Last year they got Arik Armstead to flip, and they got to keep Byron Marshall. Pharoah Brown was the 4-Star guy that flipped from Michigan. Adding Kyle Long late was a big deal. They were able to get DeForest Buckner late, also a big deal. Dwayne Stanford was a guy that committed late in the process. He was 4-Star receiver.
This has been the program's idea of recruiting: Hold serve until the end of year and then make a big push.
They bring in guys they know are serious early in the season for official visits. The guys that are 50/50 or less? They tend to bring them in later, let them watch a practice, watch the team prep for a bowl game and say, 'Look, we are prepping for the Fiesta Bowl or a National Championship and the school your looking at is already done prepping for bowl games' That's powerful.
They also bring some guys in around January and showcase them individually. They get one-on-one time, and it's paid off for the Ducks. That's how they got De'Anthony Thomas, Arik Armstead, Bralon Addison. List goes on and on.
Is the next "Jeff Maehl" in this class?
I feel like in last year's class someone will be that guy. This year, they've got Darren Carrington out of Horizon Christian down in California (the 6-2 son of NFL player Darren Carrington Sr). He performed well in the Semper Fi All American game, and our national guys covering it said he was one of the better, if not the best receiver at that game. Will he play as a true freshman next year? That's hard to say. They've got so young many guys this season who got flashes, like Bralon Addison, Dwayne Stanford, BJ Kelley (who redshirted).
In this class, maybe it will be one of Robinson twins out of San Diego. Tyree is a 6-4 190 lb “athlete” currently slated to play safety or corner, while Tyrell is slated for linebacker. But if Oregon gets another guy, they've thought about sliding Tyree to receiver. Tyrell can play the drop in or the linebacker or even safety depending on how his body develops. Tyree can play corner or safety. If they wanna bulk him up they can spend some time in the weight room for a couple years getting him heavy enough to play an outside linebacker position, or they can slide him to receiver where he played this season and dominated.
How Important are the Robinson Twins?
The Robinson twins are probably in my opinion maybe the most important recruits outside of Thomas Tyner because they can play five or six different positions.
These guys are freaks. Just a little raw. They need time to develop. Tyree might be the guy, if he plays offense, who could be that Jeff Maehl-type down the road because he's so physically gifted. Both came out early and said it they wanted double package deal; to play together and also to have the option to play basketball.
In recruiting this year, what will be critical for the future of the O-line?
They need one or two more guys. They've got Evan Voeller and Doug Brenner. They landed three-star offensive lineman Elijah George out of Las Vegas, NV this past week after they brought George in for an official visit. Oregon's staff still seems to be looking for one more offensive lineman.
They're looking at a handful of guys. How serious those guys are looking at Oregon is up for debate. They need one or two more because a good deal lot of guys are juniors and Kyle Long's eligibility status was denied. I'm not sure if Oregon was counting on that but it's another factor playing into things.
Lastly, Oregon doesn't always get the 5-Star Guys. So....
Our definition for 247 Sports is that a 5-Star is a guy the network feels will be an NFL 1st Round pick at some point. For Oregon they're in a tough spot.
After Tommy Tuberville switched schools at the end of the season, he went up to booth at a bowl game and said a lot of schools back East, in the South, the Midwest, they all feel same way: you have to “own the 300 mile radius of your school. Half your players will come from that area.'
For the most part, it's true. What does that mean for Oregon? In that 300-mile radius is you've got maybe eight guys that will play Division 1 Football, and out of those eight guys, three or four are good enough for Oregon. So, Oregon's job is already hard as it is.
Everyone asks, 'Why aren't they getting five stars? Well, there's only a limited amount of five stars in the first place. Most aren't really close to Oregon on a regular basis, and on top of that the Ducks have got to recruit and compete with a whole bunch of schools on the West Coast.
Then how to they come out with elite players?
The thing with Oregon hinges on how good their coaching is; they do a good job of getting a guy into the program. He leaves Oregon's program, generally speaking, night and day better than when he came in. Over the 4 years since Kelly has took over, recruiting has gone up. They've gotten better players. So when you're coaching is already really good, your guys get better as years go on.
Take Avery Patterson. People wondered when Boyett went out how good he would be. But there was no drop off . Taylor Hart was a Three Star recruit coming out of Tualatin and Oregon developed him into a guy that's probably going to be on some NFL draft board at some point. Most likely he'll be 3rd or 4th, but you'd have never expected Hart to be an NFL target coming out of high school.
Take Marcus Mariota; he wasn't highly recruited. No one knew about him because he went to Oregon's camp, Washington's camp and the Nike camp in Hawaii. Oregon offered him on spot. And the Ducks already had Manziel committed. Obviously, they both saw each other and were like 'One of us isn't gonna play, so one of us has got to make a decision.'
Typically, if Oregon offers you a quarterback spot, you're going to be a star.
*Check CSNNW.com Monday for your comprehensive guide to signing day