Travis Waller officially announced his commitment to Oregon on Tuesday, spurning Northwestern, Notre Dame, Arizona and Ohio State in the process.
A 4-star recruit out of Anaheim, California, the announcement has been scheduled since Waller pared down his considerable list of suitors. Notre Dame was considered one of the favorites, with the Irish seeming like a natural fit.
Waller's high school teammate Equanimeous St. Brown is also considering a South Bend trip, and the Irish had an opening following the decommitment of 4-star quarterback Blake Barnett. Still, Notre Dame was late to the party; it didn't even offer him a scholarship until early this month.
In the end, the Irish will miss out on one of the best quarterback prospects in the 2015 class.
Waller is considered the fourth-best dual-threat quarterback prospect and No. 79 overall recruit by 247Sports' composite rankings. Calling him a dual threat might be a disservice to his ability as a passer. While he is a solid runner and will be effective outside the pocket, Waller will make his name by throwing the football.
As a junior at Servite High School, Waller threw for 1,669 yards and 12 touchdowns against seven interceptions. The offense worked to highlight his athletic ability more so than his pocket passing; Waller added 1,293 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.
"After the very first game, we realized he was the guy we were going to roll with," Servite head coach A.J. Gass told AL.com's . "Every single week, Travis got a little bit better. He's a very dynamic kid running the ball. Athletically, he's like a linebacker in the backfield. When he's got to stand back and throw, he's got great arm strength and tremendous accuracy. He's truly one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation.
Listed at 6'3" and 190 pounds, Waller will need to bulk up before getting significant playing time. His body wouldn't withstand the week-to-week grind of being hit by major collegiate linebackers and linemen. Adding weight shouldn't be much of a problem over the next couple years. His frame has room for bulk.
Strength isn't an issue when Waller goes to throw the ball. He's able to make throws on a line and deep down the field with considerable zip; the ball rarely floats out of his hand. If anything, sometimes he needs to take a bit off the throw and ensure it's getting there accurately. Waller completed (slightly) more than half of his passes in 2013. As a dual-threat passer, he'll need to improve his accuracy level to warrant consistent playing time.
Concerns aside, the Ducks didn't offer Waller a scholarship so they could throw him in as an 18-year-old. He'll have considerable time to develop, where the coaching staff will attempt to refine his mechanics and work on the basics of quarterback play. Few signal-callers are 100 percent ready to go as freshmen. Even Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel took a redshirt year.
The key is bringing Waller in and getting him to work. Oregon took care of the first part. Now it's up to him and Waller to figure out the rest.
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