Much has been made of the recruiting success the Oregon Ducks have enjoyed in the state of Texas in recent years. As things have played out, much of the hype was been much ado about nothing.
The majority of the discussion was due to the fact that the Ducks landed three running backs from the state after LaMichael James blew up in Eugene. They were all talented backs that had the Ducks squaring off with some of the best programs in the country on the recruiting trail.
In reality, it has been the wide receivers that have been Oregon's most successful group of players from the Lone Star State. Obviously LaMichael James set the world on fire with his record-breaking career, but wide receivers Josh Huff and Bralon Addison might have made a bigger impact by the time they are done in Eugene.
Clearly James is the best of the bunch, and it will remain that way, but the Oregon rushing attack hasn't exactly fallen off without him. The passing game has taken a step up and it could be the recruiting success in the state of Texas that leads the Ducks to the top.
In 2010, the Ducks signed Lache Seastrunk, who was regarded as the top high school running back in the country along with former South Carolina star Marcus Lattimore. Seastrunk never panned out for the Ducks and transferred to Baylor, where he has become a star. His only real contribution to the Oregon program was the NCAA investigation into his recruitment.
The Ducks also signed another elite back out of Texas in their 2010 class. Dontae Williams was a 4-star back that was highly thought of as well. After choosing the Ducks over programs like Ohio State, Texas A&M and Arkansas, Williams left the Oregon program after one redshirt season.
Then there was Tra Carson, the powerful runner that broke most of LaMichael James' records at Liberty-Eylau High School in Texarkana, Texas. Carson played sparingly as a freshman in 2011 after signing with the Ducks over nearly 20 other offers. Like Seastrunk and Williams, Carson left Eugene after one season and is now a part of the running back group that shares the backfield with Johnny Manziel in College Station.
The Ducks also landed Josh Huff out of Texas in their 2010 recruiting class. Huff is the leading receiver for the Ducks and one of the veteran leaders on a young Oregon team. He was a 4-star recruit out of Houston that made little noise when he flipped his commitment from TCU to the Ducks. When he has been healthy, he has been a primary target for Oregon's quarterbacks during his four-year career.
Huff's counterpart at receiver is another 4-star talent that also flipped from an in-state school to the Ducks before signing day. Texas A&M wasn't thrilled when Bralon Addison opted for Eugene over College Station, but I'm sure they are fine with the trade off for Johnny Manziel.
If Huff is the present, Addison is the future. The problem for Oregon's opponents is that the future arrived last week against California. Addison had been on the verge of busting out into stardom from the moment he stepped onto the Autzen Stadium turf. Last week, he made it official by returning a pair of punts for touchdowns.
With Huff and Addison leading the way, the Ducks now have two game-breaking wideouts after years without a true big-play receiver. Huff is the unquestioned leader on the field and in the stat book, but Addison is making a name for himself in a big way.
The sophomore from the Houston area has proven his ability as the primary punt returner for the Ducks. The proof is in the pudding as the 5'11", 181-pound athlete has returned six punts this season with a national-best 36.5 yards per return.
His return prowess helps the Ducks save De'Anthony Thomas from any more wear and tear without suffering much of a drop off in the return game. It isn't just the punt returns that Addison helps out with. As the second-leading receiver on the team, Addison has come up with some spectacular catches early in his career.
The Ducks currently have as deep and talented of a group as they have ever had at the wide receiver position. The regular rotation of wideouts features a diverse group of players with varying skill sets.
The rest of the young and talented group includes talented sophomores B.J. Kelley and Dwayne Stanford, who is the biggest target for the Ducks. It is another Texas receiver that has the coaches the most excited from the young group: Redshirt freshman Chance Allen has wowed coaches and teammates in practice and has been solid thus far in limited chances.
What each and everyone of the receivers know they must do to see the field is block downfield; no block, no rock. The Oregon receivers are an integral part of the dominant Oregon running game. Among the group, there are good route runners, speedsters, guys with great hands and guys that can block.
Josh Huff can do all of those things at a high level and the same can be said for Addison. Now that he has developed into a standout blocker, he is the most versatile threat in the group. Huff has the experience factor over Addison, but the sophomore is more shifty in the open field. Huff can make defenders miss but he is more of a straight-line guy.
Addison has the ability to sidestep defenders and make them look foolish as they attempt to bring him down. Along with the rest of the skills he possesses, his elusiveness makes him one of the most dangerous pieces in the Oregon attack.
The running backs from Texas are what earned the Ducks plenty of attention, both good and bad. As it turns out, it could be a trio of wideouts from the Lone Star State that give them the extra edge that puts them over the top.
With Mark Helfrich now calling the shots, the Ducks are likely to start airing it out more than they did under Chip Kelly. The running game is still the focal point of the offense, but the Ducks have now have the depth and talent at wide receiver to make the offense even more deadly.
The days of the Texas backfield are gone. The Texas connection at Oregon is now out on the edge, making big plays as the Ducks try to take things to the next level.
Bralon Addison is on the fast track to stardom and will likely become the go-to receiver for the Ducks in 2014. With his best friend, Chance Allen, waiting in the wings, the state of Texas will continue to be well represented in Eugene.
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