Oregon Duck Football Recruiting: Always Be Closing
Always Be Closing!
If you have ever seen the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, then you no doubt remember the "motivational speech" given by Alec Baldwin to the salesmen in the real estate office. "A" always; "B" be; "C" closing... In real estate sales, it means that you should always be working on a sale with a deep client base.
In college football terms, it means being ready to catch a recruit's eye at a moment's notice, signing the player and following through on the promises made.
With recruiting season in the books for this year, it is a great time to remember the great recruiting coups the Oregon Ducks have pulled over the course of the last few years.
As the three examples of high-profile players the Ducks have nabbed are listed in this article, please keep in mind that each of these players were committed to other schools prior to their signing by the Ducks...
Darron Thomas, Quarterback
Quarterback Darron Thomas
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Darron Thomas was going to be an LSU Tiger. Thomas' goal was to make it to the NFL as a quarterback and playing in the LSU system seemed to be a perfect fit for him. During his visit to LSU, Thomas wanted to make sure that one thing was clear: Thomas was going to play quarterback.
Coach Les Miles of the Tigers was forewarned that Thomas was not an "athlete," but a quarterback. Any hint otherwise and Thomas was out. As it turned out, early in the visit, the Mad Hatter made the mistake of telling Thomas what a fine "athlete" he would be at LSU.
Immediately turning his interest elsewhere, he reached out to Oregon, who promised that if Thomas signed with the Ducks, he would be a quarterback and have a shot to compete for the starting job.
The rest of the story is pretty fresh on the minds of Ducks fans, players and recruits. Thomas not only was allowed to play quarterback at Oregon, he earned the job in his sophomore year, played in two BCS games (with one win), completed his undergraduate degree and has thrown his hat into the ring this offseason for a chance to play at the next level.
De'Anthony Thomas, Offensive Threat
All-Purpose Back De' Anthony Thomas
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
The story of how De'Anthony Thomas made his way to Oregon is mired in a mystery—or that is how USC football fans like to put it...
The reality of why he chose Oregon is partially due to the fact that Thomas wanted to carry the ball. USC had him pegged as a defensive back, which was not where Thomas saw his role on a football team. Oregon gave him the opportunity to carry the ball on offense and special teams as well as allow him to play as a true freshman.
Over the course of his freshman season, he was allowed to play through his mistakes and allowed to learn on the job.
When USC rolled into town and the young Duck secondary proved to be a poor match for the Trojan passing attack, it was probably tempting for the Duck coaches to plug in Thomas in the secondary in an attempt to slow down Barkley & Co., but the coaches hung in with their players, stuck to the game plan and battled out to the very last play of the game.
Although the rest of the story has yet to be written for Thomas, the future looks bright. The Rose Bowl record book already has his name recorded for his 91-yard touchdown sprint this past January and he looks to be at home in the Duck offensive scheme.
Thomas was told this offensive system was built for his speed, Thomas was allowed to utilize that speed in a number of ways that culminated in Duck freshman records for yardage gained and scoring, and he will be an early-season candidate for the Heisman Trophy in the 2012 season.
A great tale that has yet to be finished...
Arik Armstead, Defensive End
Defensive End Arik Armstead
This year's crop of Duck recruits was highlighted by the signing of the No. 1 offensive lineman, as rated by many scouting reports. The twist in this story is that the Ducks will not be playing this recruit on the offensive side of the ball...!
Arik Armstead was a recruit this past fall who was a verbal commit to Cal. He had a great relationship with his recruiter at Cal, Tosh Lupoi. Lupoi, as many fans may recall, was hired in the postseason by the Washington Huskies as one of their coaches.
Armstead, not terribly interested in becoming a Husky and less enthusiastic about becoming a Golden Bear without his coach, decided to see if greener pastures were out there... and green was the color he found when he decided to check out the Ducks.
Although a blue-chip, 5-star offensive lineman, Armstead wanted to play on the defensive line. The Oregon coaching staff listened and told Armstead that the defensive side of the ball was where he would play—no debate.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that Armstead was rated as a 4-star player as a defender...
As with Thomas and Thomas mentioned earlier, the Duck coaches listened to the player. If Armstead was going to choose Oregon to be the place he would play, the Ducks would grant him his wish to compete on the defensive side of the ball. On signing day, Duck head coach Chip Kelly went on record in saying that Armstead would play defense, and that was that.
Without the benefit of any action on the field yet, the jury is out on Armstead as a player. One thing is for sure, though—he will be given an opportunity to contribute right away. The rest is up to Armstead.
Coffee Is for Closers!
Turning a full circle back to Alec Baldwin's encouraging speech outlined in the opening slide, he makes a poignant remark for the guy who takes a break without accomplishing anything that day—that coffee is for closers only.
As the talent level of the players the Ducks are pursuing each year increases, so does the amount of attention and skill needed to sign these players. To get premium players to choose Oregon is a never-ending job, not just one for fall and winter.
Also, to get these premium players to come to Oregon, they are encouraged to speak up about what role they see themselves in and where they want to play on the team. If the opportunity is there and the coaches agree to let the player choose his path, then it is up to the player to work hard and achieve his goals.
The bright side of the way the Ducks go about their recruitment of these players is that they tell these players the truth up front and uphold the promises that they make to these players.
Now the University of Oregon is a highly regarded destination for the best-of-the-best players in the high school ranks.
For that, the Duck coaching staff has definitely earned their cups of coffee.