Oregon Ducks Recruiting: Why Texas Is the New California
In the good old days B.C. (Before Chip), the Oregon Ducks recruited primarily in California, the Northwest and maybe Hawaii. When the Ducks landed a 3-star prospect from California, it was a huge deal.
How times have changed.
Oregon would occasionally snare a top prospect from somewhere beyond the West, but it was certainly the exception, not the rule. Most of Oregon's past heroes, guys like Joey Harrington, Ahmad Rashad and Dave Wilcox were from the state of Oregon.
Today, the Ducks are chasing 4 and 5-star kids from faraway places like Georgia (Montravius Adams), Mississippi (Antonio Conner), Pennsylvania (Robert Foster), Florida (Vernon Hargreaves III) and Kentucky (James Quick), among others.
But the most interesting thing about Oregon's recruiting is how powerful the Ducks have become in the state of Texas. There will be six Texans on the Oregon roster this fall, and there were seven in 2011.
Californians still make up the bulk of the Ducks' roster with 45 listed on the 2012 team, compared to 18 Oregonians. But let's look at why Oregon has been so successful recruiting in Texas.
Texas Longhorns' Style of Play
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I'm not going to bash Mack Brown and the 'Horns here, although it would be somewhat easy to do.
Let's just say that Oregon's style of play is more fun and more successful than Texas' these days. Certain skill players, in particular, look at how their skills—like speed, explosiveness, size, strength—fit with teams.
Texas, for instance, is known for powerful running backs who bull their way to three or four yards at a time. If you are a feathery, blazing fast RB like Oregon 2013 commit Dontre Wilson, do you see yourself fitting into that style of play?
Also, kids have short memories. A 17-year-old may not remember that previous to Texas going 8-5 in 2011 and 5-7 in 2010, the 'Horns were 13-1 in 2009 and 12-1 in 2008. Or, perhaps they remember, but see Texas on a downward spiral.
And, I'm the last person who should be talking about age, but maybe Texas recruits relate better to Chip Kelly than Mack Brown. Chip is certainly more fun than Mack, I would think.
Successful Ducks from Texas
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Certainly the success of homegrown Texas players like Darron Thomas, LaMichael James and Josh Huff has raised the profile of the Ducks within the state of Texas.
When they see one of their own at the Heisman Trophy presentation, playing in the BCS National Championship game, or on the winner's stage at the Rose Bowl, they must think: "That could be me." Not to mention when one gets drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft.
And when they see a player like linebacker Anthony Wallace from Dallas appear in six games as a true freshman, and record one big solo stop in the Rose Bowl, they know they will be given a chance to compete from day one.
As long as the Texas players on the current roster play well, the Ducks will continue to recruit in the state. With 2012 newcomers Chance Allen, Bralan Addison, and Eric and Stephen Amoako expected to be prominent additions to this year's roster, Oregon should be able to keep the Texas train going.
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Running backs coach Gary Campbell has been with the Oregon program for 28 years. The list of successful Ducks' RBs that Campbell has coached is way too long to list here.
Campbell is a native of Ennis, Texas, and has strong ties to the state. He is also, by all accounts, an excellent recruiter who is able to establish an immediate rapport with both recruits and their families.
Most of the former Oregon running backs still stay in touch with Campbell, and his close relationship with LaMichael James is the stuff of legends.
Gary Campbell is a big reason for the Ducks' recruiting success in Texas.
One could make an argument that ESPN's College GameDay appearances at Oregon's games over the past three years have had a significant impact on recruiting around the country.
Kids watch TV.
The attention lavished on the Ducks by ESPN in recent years has helped enormously with recruiting in faraway states like Texas.
It's helped that whenever GameDay shows up in Eugene, the Duck fans have showed up in droves and are clearly having a great time. I can even remember a time or two when GameDay was broadcasting at an away game site, and there appeared to be more Duck fans in the audience than the home team.
Wouldn't you want to play for a team that gets so much attention from the media and has some of the best fans in the world?
Oregon fans are eagerly awaiting the arrival of 4-star wide receiver Bralon Addison to the team this fall. Addison is from Sugar Land, Texas.
If he and the other six Texas players on the 2012 roster can keep the momentum going from stars like LaMichael James and Darron Thomas, I see no reason why Oregon won't continue to grow its presence in the state of Texas.