If the new Oregon football head coach Mark Helfrich and his Merry Band of Six road show keeps going, it may yet save the 2013 recruiting class.
As you know by now, dealing with prep gridiron superstars is a fluid game. In Oregon's case, the process was made even dicier by Chip Kelly's untimely departure.
However, if you are a Ducks fan, there is cause to rejoice, if only for today. Helfrich and his assistant coaches are completely acing their first post-Chip week.
Taking to the road all together to visit each and every committed recruit was brilliant in its simplicity. Not only was the plan a good one, but they also appear to be executing it perfectly. Recruits, their parents and coaches all seem happy.
Breathe deeply today, Ducks, for who knows what tomorrow may bring. Here's the latest.
First, the so-so, inconclusive news.
Oregon commit 4-star wide receiver Darren Carrington out of San Diego, Calif., was visited by the Oregon bionic coaches the evening of Jan. 22. Carrington has been contacted by several schools since Chip Kelly's departure and recently visited Arizona.
Carrington was primarily recruited by WR coach Scott Frost, who is likely to replace Mark Helfrich as offensive coordinator, according to sources. In an interview with Rivals.com's Adam Gorney, Carrington's father confirmed that Oregon did an in-home visit, but said that his son will continue to take official visits in the time remaining.
Arizona and Ohio State now appear to be in the mix for Carrington's services. This one could go either way, Ducks fans.
Things went better in the great state of Texas. The Oregon coaches met with 4-star running back Dontre Wilson, his parents and Claude Mathis, Wilson's high school coach.
According to 247Sports' Justin Hopkins, Oregon's RB coach, Gary Campbell, a legend in his own time, reportedly spent private one-on-one time during the visit with Wilson, which apparently had a strong impact on the recruit.
Wilson's father said about the private conversation his son had with Campbell:
"Tre didn't tell me about what he said and I didn't really ask, but I know it hit him. He's always been very tight with coach Campbell and he respects him a great deal. It's okay that Chip Kelly left for the NFL, it's no surprise he did. What matters is coach Campbell and coach Helfrich stayed and they all (the coaches) are supporting the move. That offense is still gonna go and they are still going to be successful up there."
The Wilson father and son were not the only ones impressed by the Oregon coaches. Here's what Coach Mathis thought of the visit with Helfrich and his assistants:
"You know what, they came in and didn't say a word about any other program. Not a word. They came in and talked about their program and what they are going to do and why they are successful. That really impressed me. That's a great coaching staff."
While it's not over yet with Wilson visiting Ohio State on Jan. 25 and Oklahoma State on Feb. 2, this one feels like a big "whew!" for Oregon fans.
Tyree and Tyrell Robinson, two-sport athletes from Southern California who committed to the Ducks last September, appeared to have survived an official visit to USC last weekend. The twins, while still committed to Oregon, opened up their process on Chip Kelly's departure.
Helfrich and his assistants visited the Robinsons on their California stop earlier in the week. Here's Tyree's take on the get-together posted on his Twitter account Jan. 23:
While Washington is still a threat for the Robinsons, Oregon fans have to feel good about this tweet coming after the USC visit.
The twins, who are a package deal, also want to play basketball at the collegiate level. Do you suppose the coaches might have mentioned which b-ball team is currently undefeated in Pac-12 play?
Immediately after Helfrich was introduced as the new Oregon head coach, he and his assistants hit the recruiting road.
It wasn't just the "soft verbals" who had turned downright "squishy verbals" that they visited. Instead, the road show was planned to talk to every committed recruit.
Starting in Oregon with RB Thomas Tyner, OT Evan Voeller and C Doug Brenner, the coaches worked hard to reassure the multi-starred recruits that, essentially, nothing had changed at Oregon. For Voeller, a 4-star offensive tackle rated No. 18 in the nation, Helfrich's promotion was the right move. In an interview with Rivals.com's A.J. Jacobson, Voeller said that his commitment was still just that:
"Nothing ever changed for me," said Voeller of the coaching switch with the Ducks. "I am fully committed to Oregon. I think he is a great coach. I'm definitely excited to get down there to Eugene."
After the Oregon visits, Helfrich and Co. headed north to Spokane, Wash., to visit tight end Danny Mattingly, who committed to the Ducks in December. Then the Ducks flew south to California and met with six committed recruits before heading to Texas midweek.
By this weekend, according to Jacobson, the seven Ducks coaches will have visited all of the committed recruits. Guess that means they are on the way to North Carolina to see highly anticipated kicker Matt Wogan.
As I write this, three exciting prospects are scheduled to visit Oregon the weekend of Jan. 26: offensive lineman Elijah George out of Las Vegas, OL Maurice Porter from Missouri City, Texas and RB Trevorris Johnson from Houston.
George is a 3-star prospect who has been recruited by O-line coach Steve Greatwood. He is reported to be choosing between Duke and Oregon. This one sounds easy for the Ducks.
Another 3-star OL recruited by Greatwood is Maurice Porter, who is also expected in on Jan. 25. Porter, 6'5", 280 pounds, is a "soft verbal" commit to Texas Tech but is still taking visits.
Linebacker Keishawn Bierra will visit Oregon next week, according to Justin Hopkins of 247Sports.com. Bierra is a 3-star LB from Harbor City, Calif.
It's possible that more visits for this crucial weekend and next will be added. Don't go anywhere just yet, OK?
Kay Jennings is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.