Re-Evaluating Oregon's Recruiting Class After the 2014 Opening

Kyle KensingContributor IJuly 14, 2014

Byron Cowart
Byron CowartCredit:

Recruiting for the 2015 cycle is gaining steam for the Oregon Ducks, with six of their 11 total commits pledging since June. Oregon climbed to No. 18 nationally, per 247Sports, and the performance of a few Ducks prospects last week at The Opening points to a home run haul for head coach Mark Helfrich and Co. come national signing day. 


Oregon's Top Targets

Byron Cowart proved his 5-star standing at The Opening. Charles Power of 247Sports praised him as the top defensive lineman in attendance, writing

Cowart led the linemen in Tuesday’s NFTC portion of The Opening, showing off his burst off the ball and an array of pass rushing moves that left offensive tackles asking for a crack at a rep against the 6'4", 250-pounder...[He] went undefeated in one-on-ones, making quick work of Clemson commitment Mitch Hyatt and 5-star offensive tackle Martez Ivey.

Below is Cowart at work during The Opening, via Craig Haubert of ESPN: 

Cowart is just the piece Oregon needs in its 2015 signing class. Defensive line coach Ron Aiken is his primary recruiter, and he'll likely have a few more months to pitch the 5-star prospect. Luke Stampini of 247Sports reports that Cowart plans to announce his commitment in January at the Under Armour All-American Game. 

Oregon has not pursued 4-star safety Marvell Tell quite as intensely as it has Cowart, but that may change after his performance at The Opening. 

The prospect out of Crespi High School in Encino, California, has a top three of UCLA, USC and Texas A&M. However, Tell told Aaron Kasinitz of The Oregonian that the Ducks intrigue him:

I actually like Oregon a lot. ... I want to take an official up there and learn more about the program. I don't know too much. I've talked to the coaches more off and on, but I definitely want to take that trip.

Fellow Southern California-based defensive back recruit DeChaun Holiday is another standout from The Opening for whom the Ducks could make a late push.

Holiday told Greg Biggins of, "I like UCLA and USC a lot," but Oregon is also a factor. Should the 4-star recruit from Mission Hills High School in San Marcos not make a choice soon, Ducks defensive backs coach John Neal will have time to make a push:

As for when I'll decide, I'm still battling that right now. A part of me wants to commit early but I want to wait until I'm 100% on that and right now, I'm only 50-50. If I'm not ready by the end of the summer, I'll take my official visits and wait until the fall to commit anywhere.

Currently, Oregon has two defensive backs committed to its 2015 signing class: 3-star prospects Jihree Stewart and PJ Locke. The addition of Tell or Holiday—or both—gives this unit the kind of juice that the Oregon secondary is known for. 


Oregon's Top Commits

Running back Taj Griffin came to The Opening with 5-star billing from 247Sports, but his Composite score rated him as a 4-star prospect. His blazing speed and No. 7 overall SPARQ score, via, might land Griffin that coveted fifth star. 

The speedy Griffin proved himself as exactly the type of back that flourishes in the Ducks' uptempo offense. 

Likewise, quarterback Travis Waller should find himself right at home in Oregon. Waller pledged to the Ducks just days before The Opening.

The 4-star dual-threat prospect out of Servite High School in Anaheim, California, commemorated the occasion with the first of what could be many stellar performances in the state of Oregon. 

Waller finished No. 3 in the Elite 11 quarterback competition through last Thursday. His combination of mobility on the run and presence in the pocket make him an invaluable addition to this signing class, particularly after the Ducks missed on recruits Kyler Murray and Blake Barnett. 

Waller's pass to Alabama commit Calvin Ridley was perhaps the play of The Opening. 


Recruiting rankings and information culled from composite scores unless otherwise noted.