Oregon Football: Top Positions the Ducks Must Still Recruit in 2012
The sad thing about college football is that just when you get to love and understand a player fully, he graduates, or leaves early to answer the siren call of the NFL.
The fun thing about college football is that someone new and exciting comes along to replace him, and you fall in love all over again.
Although the Ducks are a relatively young team this season, there will be some glaring holes next year that will need to be filled. The pace of Oregon's 2013 recruiting picked up last weekend with the verbal commitments from San Diego twins Tyree and Tyrell Robinson.
However, there are still positions that need attention going forward. Let's look at some of them.
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Yes, I understand that you are enjoying watching Kiko Alonso, Michael Clay and Boseko Lokombo eat quarterbacks, but please be advised that Alonso and Clay are seniors, and Lokombo is a junior.
Furthermore, Brett Bafaro and Dawson Housley are the only linebackers in this year's freshman class. Both are from the state of Oregon; Bafaro from Hillsboro and Housley from Eugene's Sheldon High. According to Rivals.com, Bafaro was a 4-star prospect and Housley a 2-star.
The current sophomore class is well represented in terms of quantity, but their quality is still mostly unknown. Some, like Derrick Malone and redshirt freshman Rahim Cassell, have seen some playing time during the nonconference tuneups, but we haven't seen enough yet to gauge their talent.
So who's still out there in the linebacking class? USC's signing of 4-star LBs Michael Hutchings and Torrodney Prevot hurt—Oregon had offered both of them.
Kinda greedy, Trojans, don't you think?
Prevot has indicated that while he's a solid commitment to USC, he will take an official visit to Oregon on Oct. 5, via Rivals.com. What part of the word "commitment" do these kids not understand? Prevot will also be at the USC vs. Oregon game on Nov. 3 at the Coliseum.
Assuming Hutchings and/or Prevot do not decommit, the next best prospect is probably Victor Egu, a 3-star out of Concord's DeLaSalle High School. According to Duck Sports Authority, Egu has the Ducks in his top five, with Notre Dame and Washington most likely the leading competition. He will visit Oregon, but I'm not sure when (he should visit Eugene when Washington plays on Oct. 6 and kill two birds with one stone.)
The 39th linebacker on Rivals' national list is George Williams, a 3-star from Hialeah, FL. Williams has Oregon on his interest list, but the Ducks have not offered him yet. He looks good; perhaps Nick Aliotti thinks he won't like Oregon's weather.
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The Ducks list precisely one punter on their current roster—senior Jackson Rice. Junior Dylan Ausherman is listed as a place kicker on the roster, but he is primarily a punter and will likely take over when Rice leaves.
Oregon has a 2013 verbal commitment from Matt Wogan, a 3-star prospect from famous kicking instructor Chris Sailer's camp. The Ducks special teams coach, Tom Osborne, also found Ausherman via Sailer. Wogan, from North Carolina, is primarily a kickoff specialist with a huge leg, and a place kicker.
While you may argue that Oregon doesn't really need a punter, I don't see anyone in the pipeline to back up Ausherman next year. And it appears that most of the nation's good high school kickers already have their dance card filled in.
Not sure what the plan is on the punting front.
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Already thin at safety, the Ducks took a real hit when senior John Boyett went down with likely season-ending knee surgery.
Junior Avery Patterson has filled in respectably, and Oregon is clever at shifting DBs around to make the most of their talents. But safety is different from cornerback, and currently Oregon does not list even one DB on the 2013 commitment list.
This should make you nervous. There are still some great uncommitted safeties out there, but Oregon seems strangely quiet at this position. Maybe one or both of the newly committed Robinson twins is a safety waiting to happen; what do you think?
Leon McQuay III from Florida is a sure-thing 5-star safety who is still undecided. The smart money, however, is on Florida State.
Tahaan Goodman is closer to home. He's a solid 4-star safety from Rancho Cucamonga, CA, who has a bazzilion teams on his interest list, but doesn't include Oregon. Unless it's like a reverse psychology thingy and he's just trying to throw off the Ducks.
I also like Crespi High (Encino, CA) teammates Tyler Foreman and Brandon Arnold. Both are rated as 3-star prospects but look very good on film.
It's difficult to believe that the Ducks won't recruit a single DB in the 2013 class, but they had better get a move on, or that might be the stark reality.
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The Ducks have a verbal commitment from one DT for 2013, Doug Brenner from Portland's Jesuit high school. Brenner is a 3-star prospect.
Currently, the DT position is one where the Ducks are a little older and more experienced. Guys like Taylor Hart, Isaac Remington and Ricky Heimuli are juniors or seniors. It would seem to make sense for Oregon to sign at least one more DT in this class.
The loss of Eddie Vanderdoes to a team we won't mention (here's a clue: they are greedy)—definitely was a blow. But there are plenty of good, and possibly great, DTs still uncommitted and out there.
It remains to be seen which direction the Ducks will go at this position, or whether they are satisfied with Brenner's commitment.
How Will the Ducks Finish?
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If you follow the Ducks, you have learned to not count Chip Kelly out, and it's not over until it's over. But it's safe to say that Oregon has—as of today—some serious gaps in the 2013 recruiting class.
We don't know who Chip and Co. might be chasing quietly. We might not know anything concrete beyond who has scheduled an official visit until we hit signing day in February. We also don't know who of the verbal commits to other fine schools might be having secret second thoughts: see De'Anthony Thomas, 2010.
But if it ended today, the Ducks do not have the 2013 class their fans deserve.