If Oregon ends the upcoming season with a Pac-12 or national championship, the 2011 signing class will be a primary reason why.
Former head coach Chip Kelly landed an impressive collection of recruits in 2011—certainly one of the program's best ever as far as individual talent.
The 2011 signing class features highly touted recruits who met their expectations and plenty of under-the-radar talents whose production at Oregon has vastly exceeded the scores they received as high schoolers.
RB Antwan Baker: N/A
ATH Devon Blackmon: 4-star
RB Tra Carson: 3-star
LB Rahim Cassell: 3-star
LB Tyson Coleman: 3-star
DT Jared Ebert: 3-star
CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu: 4-star
OT James Euscher: 3-star
OT Jake Fisher: 3-star
ATH Christian French: 4-star
LB Carlyle Garrick: 3-star
LB Rodney Hardrick: 3-star
WR Miles Johnston: N/A
OT Tyler Johnstone: 4-star
DE Koa Ka'ai: 3-star
WR B.J. Kelley: 3-star
TE Colt Lyerla: 4-star
QB Marcus Mariota: 3-star
OT Jamal Prater: 3-star
WR Tacoi Sumler: 4-star
WR Rahsaan Vaughn: 3-star
LB Anthony Wallace: 4-star
OT Andre Yruretagoyena: 4-star
De'Anthony Thomas was the lone 5-star prospect of the class, and the Crenshaw High School star lived up to his prep accolades from the very outset of his Oregon career.
The multiskilled Thomas evolved from a primary receiving weapon and return specialist into an explosive running back, as well. He bolted early for the NFL draft after three standout seasons. Thomas, along with tight end Colt Lyerla, who was dismissed from the program early last season, are two 2011 recruits whose absences will leave noticeable voids on the Ducks offense.
Nevertheless, the remaining 2011 signees help make the 2014 Oregon offense one of the most fearsome in college football.
The diamond-in-the-rough mined on the recruiting trail in 2011 was quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota was just a 3-star prospect coming out of Honolulu's Saint Louis School.
Mariota was one of college football's premier players each of the last two seasons, certainly playing more at a 5-star level than 3-star.
An outstanding offensive line has helped Mariota establish himself as one of the top dual-threat playmakers in college football, and fellow 2011 prospects Tyler Johnstone and Jake Fisher are two cornerstones. Andre Yruretagoyena will provide much-needed depth, and potentially start early on as Johnstone recovers from a knee injury.
Oregon's defense also owes plenty of its strength to the 2011 class, particularly at linebacker. Much like 3-star prospect Mariota outperformed his ranking, the Ducks linebacker corps is loaded with former 3-stars who have developed into top-level contributors.
Rodney Hardrick is key to the Ducks' run-stopping efforts, and Rahim Cassell provides invaluable depth. Pass-rusher Tyson Coleman is expected to see a more prominent role at strong-side linebacker 2014.
Meanwhile, drop-end and former 4-star recruit Christian French should get his opportunity to break out this season. French has drawn comparisons to former Ducks star Dion Jordan.
The face of the Oregon defense is another 2011 recruit, cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. He earned 4-star billing at Chino Hills High School in Chino, California and has since developed into a true shutdown cornerback.
Running Backs: A
Wide Receivers: C
Tight Ends: B-
Offensive Line: A
Defensive Line: D
Recruiting rankings culled from 247Sports.com composite scores.