Oregon Recruiting: Top Stars Ducks Must Keep in Wake of Chip Kelly's Departure
ESPN's Chris Mortensen broke the story early on Wednesday, sending reverberations throughout the NFL and college football world:
Chip Kelly is the new coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, according to league sources. No announcement yet.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 16, 2013
The most obvious implications come in Philadelphia and Eugene, where the Eagles hope to have found their coach for the next decade while the Ducks have lost theirs. Though Kelly's arrival in the NFL will definitely be the talk of the town, it's his departure from Oregon that could have the most instant impact.
With national signing day just three weeks away from Kelly's announcement, the Ducks now have to scramble to rebuild their program. It's already been rumored that Mark Helfrich will take over for Kelly in the event that he departs, but the players already headed to Eugene didn't commit to the Oregon offensive coordinator. They committed to Kelly.
That means there is a ton of work left to do in order to both keep guys who have already committed, while improving an already mediocre class.
Who are the most notable guys the Ducks must focus on keeping committed? Here is a look at a few prospects whose commitments could wane over the next couple of weeks.
Thomas Tyner (RB)
It pretty much goes without saying that schools across the Pac-12 will instantly try poaching the young running back. A 5-star recruit out of Aloha High School in Oregon, Tyner is considered the No. 22 overall recruit and third-best running back, per 247 Sports' rankings.
Though always a highly sought-after name, Tyner ascended into national prominence after a historic performance back in October. He rushed for an Oregon high-school record 644 yards and 10 touchdowns on only 38 carries while also playing on the defensive side to boot.
As the biggest coup in Oregon's recruiting class, it seemed like Tyner would transition right into Kelly's offense as a freshman. He's an absolute speedster who runs a 4.3 second 40-yard dash and is a pretty big star in the track & field world as well.
Now, the waiting game begins. Tyner was considering schools throughout the Pac-12 in the fall, including rival Oregon State. If he's disheartened enough by Kelly's departure to leave the Ducks program, they may be losing the next great running back in school history.
Helfrich, if indeed he does take the reins from Kelly, will have to work quickly to convince Tyner the offensive scheme won't be changing. If not, Tyner could be rambling down the field on a yearly basis against Oregon, rather than for the school.
Dontre Wilson (ATH)
Wilson's story reads much like Tyner's, only on a slightly smaller level. He's a 4-star recruit instead of a 5-star and is ranked barely outside the top-100 players in the nation, according to 247 Sports.
Nonetheless, his departure would make an already-weak recruiting class look even worse heading into 2013. Wilson is one of only four Oregon commits ranked inside the top 150 in the nation, per 247 Sports, and it's highly unlikely any more are coming after the school's top calling card left for the NFL.
As for what the Ducks would be missing if Wilson left, there's a pretty easy comparison on their current roster: De'Anthony Thomas. Like Thomas, Wilson is a do-everything playmaker who doesn't necessarily need a set position to excel. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, take standard hand-offs and could be a menace in the return game.
There is at least some reason to think Wilson will stick around Eugene. He has been committed to Oregon since May and hasn't shown many outward signs of decommittal.
However, if geography plays any part in Wilson's ultimate decision, Oregon could be left in the cold. Wilson starred at DeSoto High School in Texas and considered Big 12 schools like Baylor before ultimately committing to Oregon.
It will be up to the coaching staff to make him eschew those local destinations once again. Otherwise, the once-vaunted Oregon offense could be without two players many Ducks fans thought they could count on for the next four years.
Tyree & Tyrell Robinson (ATH & OLB)
UPDATE: Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 2:49 p.m. by Tyler Conway
It seems like the Robinson twins have indeed become the first recruits to decommit following Kelly's departure, according to Rivals.com.
Though there's no word on whether the Ducks have much of a chance at retaining the stars, this could be a sign of things to come in Eugene.
---End of Update---
Of the possible departures from Oregon's program, the Robinsons are arguably the most important because they're a two-for-one special. Tyree and Tyrell, who are twins hailing from Lincoln High School in California, committed to the Ducks back in September with the express purpose of playing football and basketball.
That means a full-court press will be likely from both the Oregon football staff and Dana Altman, the school's basketball coach.
As for the football program, the Robinson brothers are two versatile, top-tier prospects that just about team would welcome. They are considered 4-star prospects by 247 Sports and come with extremely versatile skill sets.
Tyree is considered an athlete/safety by 247 Sports, but the folks at ESPN have him listed at wide receiver—a true sign of his versatility. Listed at 6'4" and 190 pounds, Tyree has elite ball skills, strong hands and solid speed for his frame. He plays more of a ball-hawking role at safety than he does a wrap-up tackler, so it will be interesting to see where the coaching staff places him as a freshman.
For Tyrell, at least there seems to be a consensus on what side of the ball he plays on. Viewed as an outside linebacker, the folks at 247 Sports place him 10th in the nation at the position. He has a raw, natural ability to find the football and was a constant playmaker in high school.
With fellow Pac-12 rivals like Arizona and Cal getting previous consideration, it will be interesting to see whether the Robinsons take their talents elsewhere both on Saturdays and the hardwood.
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