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Oregon Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

Kyle KensingContributor IMay 23, 2014

Oregon Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

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    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    'Tis the season for recruiting. Oregon's 2015 class is light on verbal commitments as the summer season approaches, featuring four to date. 

    Of course, a program's recruiting success isn't measured by its early pledges; February and national signing day tell the true story. And the work that head coach Mark Helfrich and his staff put forth in the coming months will shape the narrative. 

    Oregon's growing national clout is evident in the multiregional strategy employed on the recruiting trail. The Ducks are targeting prospects from all over the country, well beyond the Pac-12 regional footprint. They already have one commitment from a prospect in SEC country. 

    For this recruiting class to be as highly rated as it can be, Oregon must lure away other recruits from their home states. 

Quarterback

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    Kyler Murray
    Kyler MurrayCredit: 247Sports.com

    A late surge for 4-star prospect Brady White fell short earlier this month when he committed to Arizona State.

    White's decision to go elsewhere in the Pac-12 places even more importance on the Ducks' pursuit of 5-star recruit Kyler Murray from Allen, Texas. Oregon is jockeying with Texas A&M for the dual-threat blue-chipper's commitment. 

    Should Oregon's recruitment of him fall short, a backup plan is of utmost importance—particularly after the Ducks lost reserve quarterbacks Damion Hobbs and Jake Rodrigues to transfers earlier this month. 

    Deondre Francois, a 4-star pro-style prospect from IMG Academy in Orlando, is one target, though Oregon must beat out his in-state suitors, Florida and Florida State.  

    The most likely target may be 4-star dual-threat Travis Waller of Southern California prep powerhouse Servite High School in Anaheim. His size and skill set are similar to those of 2014 Ducks signee Morgan Mahalak, as well as current Oregon starting quarterback Marcus Mariota. 

    Grade: Incomplete 

Running Back

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    Taj Griffin
    Taj GriffinCredit: 247Sports.com

    In 2012 it was 4-star Northern California product Byron Marshall. Last year the Ducks signed 5-star Thomas Tyner. In the 2014 signing class, Royce Freeman chose Oregon over a long list of suitors that included Alabama. 

    Taj Griffin is the next in Oregon's ever-growing line of standout running back recruits. A 4-star prospect according to composite rankings and a 5-star per 247Sports.com's metrics, he scored nine points for speed and 10 for explosiveness on a 10-point scale.

    The product of McEachern High School in Powder Spring, Georgia, spurned SEC offers to play for the Ducks. 

    Not content to add just one talented running back, Oregon also offered 4-star all-purpose back Kirk Merritt on May 14. The Ducks are also after 4-star running back Soso Jamabo of Plano, Texas. 

    Grade: A

Wide Receiver/Tight End

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    Jacob Breeland
    Jacob BreelandCredit: 247Sports.com

    Jacob Breeland could be Oregon's next great pass-catching tight end. A high 3-star prospect from Trabuco Hills High School in Mission Viejo, California, he verbally committed to the Ducks last month after receiving an offer in March. 

    Thus far, he is the sole pass-catcher committed to the Ducks' 2015 class. There are a number of high-profile targets, however.

    One is 4-star Baltimore-area prospect Kai Locksley, the son of Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley. He paid a visit to Oregon last month.  

    Among the recruits to follow are two 4-star receivers in Ryan Newsome of Aledo, Texas and Christian Kirk of Scottsdale, Arizona.  

    Grade: C

Offensive Line

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    Zach Okun
    Zach OkunCredit: 247Sports.com

    Thus far, half of Oregon's 2015 recruiting class is made up of offensive line prospects, with commitments from 4-star guard Zach Okun and 3-star Shane Lemieux.

    Lemieux earned high praise from Rivals.com analyst Adam Gorney, who wrote, "[H]e's built well and he's ultra-powerful on his film. Oregon is getting a really talented offensive tackle." 

    Okun's commitment was a bit of a coup for Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood. The Newbury Park, California prospect holds offers from a dozen programs, including USC, Notre Dame, Miami and UCLA. 247Sports.com's crystal ball panelists all whiffed on Okun's choice. 

    Conversely, the crystal ball pundits are picking 4-star tackle Andre James of Herriman, Utah, to land at Oregon.

    Guard Zack Bailey is another potential 4-star addition to the offensive front. Greatwood is jockeying to lure Bailey from local suitors to his Summerville, South Carolina, home, as both Clemson and South Carolina are pursuing him. 

    Grade: B+  

Defensive Line

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    Byron Cowart
    Byron CowartCredit: 247Sports.com

    Oregon needs all the defensive line support it can gain, and to that end many of the Ducks' most highly rated targets play up front.

    Oregon is in the mix for 5-star tackle Rasheem Green of Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, California. He is the nation's No. 3-ranked defensive tackle, per 247Sports.com's composite rankings. 

    The Ducks are pursuing another 5-star prospect, defensive end Josh Sweat of Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, Virginia. Further south in the East, defensive line coach Ron Aiken is after 5-star Byron Cowart of Armwood High School in Seffner, Florida. 

    From the Atlantic all the way to the Pacific—4-star defensive end Canton Kaumatule of Hawaii is also high on Oregon's list of 2015 targets. He's a target of Pac-12 North rival Stanford as well. He earned a 5-star rating from 247Sports.com's individual metrics. 

    Simply pursuing top-tier defensive line talent is one thing, but the Ducks must land some of these prospects in order to maintain their place near the pinnacle of the Pac-12. 

    Grade: Incomplete

Linebacker

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    Malik Jefferson
    Malik JeffersonCredit: 247Sports.com

    The Ducks' 2015 signing class is currently bereft of linebackers. Landing Malik Jefferson, a 5-star prospect from Poteet High School in Mesquite, Texas, would be quite the first step in building this group.

    In-state programs Baylor, Texas and Texas A&M are also pursuing him heavily. The Lone Star State's pipeline into Eugene, Oregon, has been fruitful before, and the Ducks could use some more of that magic in 2015. 

    Closer to home, Oregon is in the mix for 4-star Osa Masina of Brighton High School in Salt Lake City. 

    Grade: Incomplete

Secondary

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    Credit: 247Sports.com

    Though Oregon has yet to add any commitments to defensive backs coach John Neal's routinely excellent secondary, there are several high-profile targets to follow. 

    Stephen Johnson, a 4-star athlete from San Leandro, California, impressed scouts at the May 18 Bay Area Nike Football Training Camp, per JC Shurburtt of 247Sports.com

    "Oregon is the team to beat for the speedy athlete," Shurburtt wrote. "[Johnson] projects at a number of different positions on the college level, most likely as a wide receiver or cornerback, perhaps safety."

    Another multifaceted athlete whom Oregon is pursuing is 4-star Donte Jackson of Riverdale High School in New Orleans. Neal is Jackson's primary recruiter and has a slight edge over LSU, per 247Sports.com's crystal ball projections. 

    Grade: Incomplete

     

    Recruiting rankings culled from 247Sports.com composite scores unless otherwise noted. 

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