Oregon Football: Analyzing Ducks' Top 5 2014 Recruiting Targets
Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich has been able to check a few priorities off his team's 2015 recruiting list. But with four verbal commitments heading into the summer, there's plenty more room for the Ducks to make a splash.
The ripples from that splash could cover the entire country. The Oregon coaching staff is working to plant the program's flag in every corner of the nation.
With prospects in California, Texas, Georgia and Florida, the Ducks' 2015 signing class could have a decidedly national flavor if each of the top targets pledges to Oregon.
The Ducks find out the fate of one top prospect Wednesday, when 5-star quarterback Kyler Murray announces his decision. But no matter if Oregon lands Murray's commitment or not, the recruiting staff has its sights set on a potentially impressive class for 2015.
Defensive End Byron Cowart
Five-star defensive end Byron Cowart has the size and skill set to make an immediate splash. At 6'4", 250 pounds, the Seffner, Florida, prospect already looks like a college defensive end.
But what makes him the nation's No. 2 strong-side defensive end and Florida's No. 6 overall prospect per 247Sports' composite ratings are his first step, hand quickness, pursuit and athleticism.
Cowart wreaked havoc for Armwood High School in 2013. His Hudl.com highlight reel demonstrates an impressive ability to shed blockers—at this, when he's not overpowering them.
Cowart has plenty of interest from across the nation, including in-state suitor Florida. The Gators are Oregon's primary competitor, per 247Sports.
Defensive Tackle Rasheem Green
Southern California standout and 247Sports composite 5-star tackle Rasheem Green may be the most heavily pursued prospect on the West Coast. After all, he's a high-priority target of Pac-12 rivals UCLA and USC, as well as Oregon.
There's plenty of competition to land Green's commitment. For Oregon, Green is the ideal defensive line prospect. His ability to overpower blockers at the point of attack would give the Ducks an added bit of nastiness up front.
Surely, there's plenty about Green that should intrigue Oregon. And the feeling seems to be mutual.
"What I like about [Oregon] is that [it is] a great football team that I would like to learn more about," Green told Miles Joseph of SB Nation.
Defensive End Arden Key
Arden Key committed to South Carolina very early in the process, but the 4-star defensive end from Hapeville Charter School in Lithonia, Georgia, reopened his recruitment last September.
That was a potential boon for an Oregon team seeking more defensive line help. Key tweeted earlier this month that Oregon leads a group of five suitors. According to Kipp Adams of 247Sports, Key does not plan to announce his commitment until the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January 2015.
Elements of Key's game might remind Oregon fans of former Duck Dion Jordan. He combines a rangy 6'5" frame with quickness and versatility to fulfill a variety of needs.
Key's tenacity and anticipation jump out of his Hudl.com highlight package.
Running Back Soso Jamabo
With one top-flight running back already committed to Oregon for 2015—Taj Griffin—the addition of another could solidify the Ducks' ground game for the next several years to come.
Soso Jamabo is a 6'3", 210-pound, 4-star power back from Plano West High School in Plano, Texas. In a system predicated on lightning quickness, as is the case at Oregon, Jamabo is the kind of running back who can provide the thunder.
247Sports gives Jamabo nine points for power and build on a 10-point scale, with eights for speed, tackle-breaking, explosiveness and feet. Such a combination is impressive for a back his size and would make him unique on the diverse Ducks roster.
Oregon is competing with a number of programs to land Jamabo, including in-state suitor Texas and its Big 12 rival, Oklahoma. The two lead 247Sports' crystal ball projections.
Wide Receiver Ryan Newsome
Aledo, Texas, recruit Ryan Newsome is the quintessential weapon for Oregon's offense. What the 4-star wide receiver and returner lacks in size at 5'8" and 175 pounds, he makes up for with his speed and explosion.
247Sports grades Newsome a 10-of-10 with his ability to create yards after the catch. His highlight reel at Hudl.com is filled with the kind of electrifying plays that defined De'Anthony Thomas' career.
Like Thomas, Newsome excels both on special teams and creating plays in space as a receiver. He's also equipped to flourish out of the slot in much the same fashion as another Duck, wide receiver Bralon Addison.
Per 247Sports, Newsome pays an unofficial visit to Oregon on June 13 during a West Coast swing. Several Pac-12 programs are pursuing the talented receiver, as well as Lone Star State programs Baylor and Texas.
Recruiting rankings and information culled from 247Sports.com composite ratings unless otherwise noted.