Oregon Football: 10 2014 Recruits Who Would Be Perfect for the Ducks' System
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Fall may be the time when football fans pack up their coolers and head to their team's stadium, but the college game lives on 365 days a year.
While most of us are looking forward to what the 2013 season will have in store, many coaches are already on the road recruiting the 2014 class. It may seem silly, but without a year-round effort in all phases of the game, a program won't survive.
Needless to say, if way-too-early lists on recruiting aren't your thing, feel free to stop reading here.
But for the rest of you football junkies who go to bed each night with a glimmer of hope that you'll wake up and late August will have arrived, here's a look at 10 recruits from the 2014 class who would be perfect for the Oregon Ducks' system.
All photos and information via 247sports.com.
Da'Shawn Hand, DE
Da'Shawn Hand is a name you'll become very familiar with over the next 11 months as recruiting slowly heats up.
Rated as the No. 1 player in the country, Hand possesses the unique skill set needed to dominate from almost anywhere on defense.
Hand is 6'5", 247 pounds and runs a 4.60-second 40-yard-dash. He would be perfect as a defensive end in Oregon's 3-4 defense, but he also has the speed to run from sideline to sideline as an outside linebacker.
Hand is coveted by nearly every major program in the country, and his interest in Oregon is relatively low. Still, the recruiting process is unpredictable, and if the Ducks decide to make a run at his talents, you never know what could happen.
However unlikely his future as a Duck may be, Hand is an absolute monster that will dominate offenses at the college level.
Tyler Luatua, TE
As of now, there's not much mutual interest between Oregon and tight end Tyler Luatua. But he would be an ideal fit in Oregon's offense.
At 6'5", 230 pounds, he has size similar to current tight end Colt Lyerla, and we've all seen what an athletic, versatile target in the passing game can do for an offense.
Luatua is another top recruit being sought after by programs like Alabama and Notre Dame. But he's from La Mirada High School in California, so that helps Oregon, at least geographically.
Luatua also has the skills to play linebacker, and giving him the option to play defense could be a way of sparking some interest in the Ducks.
But interest or not, Luatua has unique talents that would make him an incredible asset for the Ducks.
Jay Hayes, DT
Jay Hayes is one of the top defensive tackles in the class, but the bad news for Duck fans is that he's currently committed to Notre Dame.
Should that commitment waver at all, you can be sure the Ducks will swoop in and do their best to win his services.
He's listed at 6'5", 270 pounds, but more importantly, he plays a position where the Ducks sorely need depth. The defensive tackle spot should be solid in 2013, but Oregon will likely try to add two or three run-stoppers to give the roster some talented depth.
Hayes would be perfect in this regard, and if Notre Dame's recent string of defensive tackles (like Louis Nix) are any indication of Hayes' talent, the Fighting Irish have themselves a superstar coming to South Bend.
But as is the case with any major recruit, tough decisions lie ahead and you never know for sure where they'll end up until national signing day has concluded. If Duck fans get their wish, the destination will be Eugene, Ore.
Joe Mixon, ATH
Joe Mixon is yet another big-time athlete from the state of California, and despite not having an offer from Oregon, he has interest in the Ducks.
He's listed at 6'2", 195 pounds, which reminds me of Byron Marshall with added height. He may not get the same kind of leverage running between the tackles, but he breaks a ton of arm tackles and has decent speed.
The Ducks have done a terrific job over the past few seasons in developing balance at the running back position. By that I mean they have a variety of skill sets in the backfield, from the lightning-fast De'Anthony Thomas to the bruising Byron Marshall and next season, the complete package in Thomas Tyner.
Mixon is a guy who could add another dimension to the offense, and if the Ducks offer, there's a decent chance he'll end up wearing green and yellow.
Dwight Williams, OLB
Dwight Williams is an outside linebacker who would make an excellent addition to Nick Aliotti's speedy, attacking defense.
At 6'1", 210 pounds he has intriguing size that could make him either a safety or a linebacker. Think back to former Duck Eddie Pleasant, who had success from the linebacker position but moved into the secondary and contributed there as well.
Williams jumps out on tape not only because of his ability to run sideline to sideline, but he's a big hitter as well. When ball-carriers have momentum heading toward Williams, it all but stops upon impact. In addition to these coveted traits, he shows great hands in coverage.
Like Mixon, he has interest in the Ducks despite not having an official offer. Look for Williams' name to appear more often as recruiting heats up.
Kain Daub, ILB
Kain Daub has a chance to be one of the best overall players in the 2014 class, and the good news for Ducks fans is that he just may bleed a little green and yellow.
Justin Hopkins reported that Kain Daub contacted Oregon with major interest, and it would be smart for the Ducks to listen to what he has to say.
Daub possesses ideal size at 6'3", 234 pounds, and it says a lot that he thinks highly of the Ducks when both Alabama and Florida State are clamoring for his services.
He's listed as the top inside linebacker in the country, and this is an interesting situation to keep an eye on. If he backs up a promising junior year with an outstanding senior season, his name will come up more than a few times before national signing day.
Daub would be a perfect candidate to step in and become the next great linebacker for coach Don Pellum.
John Smith, S
John "Juju" Smith has an offer sheet that basically sums up the ebb and flow of different college football powers since 1960.
Everybody wants him.
That includes the Ducks, who will be looking to add a safety or two in the 2014 class. John Smith is their ideal target for a variety of reasons.
First, he has the size at 6'1", 200 pounds that the Ducks have come to look for in their recent secondary recruits. Second, he has great ball skills due to his playing time as a wide receiver.
And lastly, he is from California, where so many great Ducks began their football journeys. He appears to have greater interest in other schools at the moment, but don't be surprised to see Oregon make a push.
Smith is the kind of guy that can impact a defense upon arrival, and it'll be interesting to see how the Ducks pursue this top-tier talent.
Deshaun Watson, QB
Deshaun Watson is one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks of the 2014 class, and naturally, the Oregon Ducks are interested.
The only problem is that he's currently committed to Clemson, where quarterback Tajh Boyd is showing Watson what he could become in the Tigers offense. Of course, there's an offense out west that is also rumored to be putting up pretty good numbers by way of athletic, dual-threat quarterbacks.
Enter Oregon, who gave an offer to Watson and will likely continue to monitor his situation as the year progresses.
Watson is 6'3", 200 pounds and runs a 4.65-second 40-yard-dash. Those kind of measurables are perfect for what the Ducks like to do on offense.
Watson may be headed to Clemson, but given the kind of success recent Duck quarterbacks have had, it's safe to say he'll have an ear toward Eugene for awhile too.
Speedy Noil, WR/QB
Talk about a guy who lives up to his name. Speedy Noil is, not surprisingly, one of the fastest recruits of the 2014 class, and he has the Oregon Ducks' full attention.
He's a smaller player at just 5'10", 175 pounds, but that hasn't stopped Oregon before in the pursuit of game-changing athletes.
Noil plays both receiver and quarterback, but he'd be an ideal fit in the Ducks offense because of his ability to create plays in space. All Oregon wants to do is find great athletes and put them in a position to succeed.
He resides in LSU's backyard but currently has an offer from the Ducks and it might be smart for Noil to at least take a look in Eugene to see if he likes the place. Oregon has done a great job of churning out top-notch athletes, so it's hard to argue that he wouldn't be a good fit.
Regardless of where Noil ends up, he has the potential to be a game changer.
Racean Thomas, RB
A great football team can never have too many running backs; just ask Alabama, who is in pursuit of Racean Thomas despite a roster filled with four and 5-star backs.
Thomas could ultimately be the top running back target for Oregon, who will have four scholarship backs on the roster next season, if you count De'Anthony Thomas.
He's rated as the fourth-best running back in the class at this point, and his interest from major programs everywhere is a good indication of what he could become at the college level.
He's listed at 5'11", 196 pounds and has the skills to become the complete package.
He may end up at Alabama and you can't really blame him if that's the case. But if or when the Ducks come calling, Thomas will likely listen.