It's February. It's a sad time. ESPN's College Football Live goes on hiatus. College football fanatics everywhere must pretend they care about the empty pageantry that is the Super Bowl. Some might even pretend they care about Valentine's day out of desperation. Many will turn to basketball to satiate their sporting needs, but the die hard fans still cling to the intricacies and happenings of college football.
The one bright spot in this dismal month is national signing day. College fans everywhere get to envision their new team. It is in this spirit that I envision the Ducks' 2011 squad.
Disclaimer: ESPNU 150 will not be used as it is blatantly biased against all things West. Only scout and rivals will be used.
- Max Forer (267 lbs)
- Jordan Holmes (300 lbs)
- C.E. Kaiser (290 lbs)
- Bo Thran (281 lbs)
- Tyler Johstone-OT (four stars)
- Andre Yruretagoyena-OT (four stars)
- Jacob Fisher-OT (four stars)
- James Euscher-OT (three stars)
- Jamal Prater-OT (three stars)
I have mixed feelings about the Oregon offensive line. All year we heard that they were undersized. It didn't seem to matter, though, as they always opened up holes for Lamichael James and company to run through. I heard that what Oregon's line lacked in size, they made up for in speed. Then came Auburn. Auburn's defensive line pushed Oregon's linemen all over the field. Auburn controlled the line of scrimmage—and I would say that was one of the key factors in the loss.
What did we learn? Oregon needs size to go with their speed. Looking at the outgoing seniors, the offensive line immediately stands out as the most severely affected part of the team. I see this as a good thing, however. Oregon's offensive line needs to change.
The Ducks' offensive line will be outstanding. In fact, I believe it will be one of the best corps of lineman Oregon has ever put together. Five players will be seniors next season. Four-star recruits Darrion Weems and Ryan Clanton, as well as Mark Asper will lead the charge. The most important thing about these lineman is that they are big. They will all be over three hundred pounds by next season. In addition to that, six offensive linemen will take off their redshirts and will see action. Three of those players also will be over three hundred pounds. On top of that, Oregon's incoming class of offensive lineman is outstanding. Three of the five recruits are four-star linemen, and Andre Yruretagoyena is the tenth-ranked offensive lineman in the entire country. I would recommend everyone starts practicing to pronounce his name, because it'll come up soon and often.
Names to Remember:
Jacob Fisher and Andre Yruretagoyen. If you haven't seen Jacob Fisher's highlight reel, check it out here. He's #84—the player that dwarfs everyone else on the field. Fisher took official visits to Florida, Michigan, and Michigan State, but chose Oregon.
Andre Yruretagoyen's highlights are even more exciting. Watch his highlight video; the man's amazing.
2011 Offensive Line Grade: A-
- Zac Clark
- Brandon Bair
- Irvin Tyrell
- Kenny Rowe
- Brandon Tett
- Jared Ebert-DT (four stars)
- Lake Koa-Ka'ai-DE (four stars)
- Sam Kamp-DE (three stars)
In my opinion, Oregon's defensive line took the hardest hit. Brandon Bair and Kenny Rowe will be sorely missed. They disrupted the run and wreaked havoc in their opponents' offensive backfields all year. I personally will miss how Kenny Row always wiggled his mustache while he readjusted his helmet after his brutal hits.
Oregon needs more big play makers to fill the void. Their defensive backfield and secondary are incredibly talented, and with a strong defensive line as a foundation, Oregon's defense will be truly outstanding.
Oregon will have four seniors on the defensive line next year. None of them are the caliber players of Rowe or Bair(who was only a three-star recruit, by the way), but Isaac Remington has shown the potential to be great. Four redshirt freshman will burn their shirts as well, and they have good size and speed.
The defensive line marks the only weak spot in Oregon's 2011 recruiting. Only three recruiting targets committed to the Ducks. What really seems to be missing are one of two names—four-star recruits Christian Heyward or Delvon Simmons. The Ducks were hoping for at least one to commit, but Heyward went to USC and Simmons to North Carolina. Oregon's defensive line will be their weak spot next season. It's a good thing the rest of the team is stellar.
Name to Remember
Jared Ebert. Most people don't think of Iowa as a stronghold for Oregon recruiting. Regardless, we snagged the state's top recruit, Christian French. The state's second best recruit is arguably Jared Ebert, a junior college student. His highlight video can be viewed here.
He's big, fast, and will see instant playing time. He's exactly what Oregon needs.
2011 Defensive Line Grade: C/C+
Casey Matthews was the heart and soul of the Oregon defense.
- Bryson Littlejohn
- Casey Matthews
- Spencer Paysinger
- Brian Butterfield
- Marvin Johnson
- Chad Peppers
- Talmadge Jackson III
- Tyson Coleman-OLB (four stars)
- Ifo Ekpre-Olomu-CB (four stars)
- Anthony Wallace-ILB (four stars)
- Rodney Hardrick-OLB (three stars)
- Carlyle Garrick-OLB (three stars)
- Rahim Cassell-OLB (three stars)
Oregon's 2010 squad boasted the seventh-best passing efficiency defense in the country. Watching Casey Matthews(another paltry three-star recruit) dive after ball carriers, it almost seemed like the Green Bay Packers had loaned Clay Matthews to the Ducks every Saturday. Casey Matthews, along with Spencer Paysinger and Talmadge Jackson III, will be missed. The Ducks need new leadership and skill in the defensive backfield next season.
The Ducks are actually in pretty good shape. Cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu will probably redshirt next season as he gains some size and learns the position. He'll have good guidance, though, with four star senior Gildon Anthony and phenom Cliff Harris as starting cornerbacks. Besides Gildon Anthony, five other seniors will return as linebackers or safeties. Eddie Pleasant will return for his senior year to lead the safety corp, as will John Boyett, who will be a junior. Oregon's defensive backfield is fast, loaded with talent, and is in good shape for next year. This doesn't even take into account the names Colt Lyerla or De'Anthony Thomas.
Name to Remember
Anthony Wallace. He's thick, fast, strong, and intimidating. He's a great recruit and will do amazing things at Oregon. Highlights? Sure.
2011 Defensive Backfield Grade: A/A-
After Darron Thomas beat him for the job, Nate Costa became the leader of Oregon's special teams.
Remene Alston Jr.
Tra Carson-RB (four stars)
Jerrard Randall-QB (four stars)
Marcus Mariota-QB (three stars)
The Ducks lost Nate Costa. This means they'll need a new star and leader for special teams. Remene Alston Jr. will also be missed. Can these holes be filled?
The Ducks have the nation's leading rusher—Lamichael James—returning. Darron Thomas will be even better next year. If the Ducks' receiving corps is good next year(spoiler of next slide--they are), Oregon's passing statistics will improve drastically. Kenjon Barner will be bigger, faster, better. There's another five-star secret weapon(and a surprise to many, I suspect), but I will save him for the last slide.
Landing Jerrard Randall out of Florida was big. It needs to be said that he did not receive a high enough grade on his SATs to attend the Univeristy of Oregon. He's still trying, however, and if he passes, he has the abilities to be better than Darron Thomas someday. I also find it amusing that Oregon recruited a second quarterback from the great state of Hawaii. Am I crazy, or do Jerrard Randall and Marcus Mariota bear a striking resemblance to Darron Thomas and Nate Costa, respectively. Call that my prediction of Marcus Mariota's place in the team: the future leader of special teams.
Name to Remember
Jerrard Randall. He's one of the top recruits of Oregon's 2011 class, given he can score high enough on his SATs. He has a great arm and is faster than Darron Thomas. See what he can do.
2011 Offensive Backfield Grade: A++
The Mailman doing what he does best.
- Jeff Maehl
- Lewis Malachi
- D.J. Davis
- Sam Doman
- Devon Blackmon-WR (four stars)
- Tacoi Sumler-WR (four stars)
- Rahsaan Vaughn-WR (four stars)
Jeff Maehl(yet another lowly three-star recruit) is the most important loss. He made a plethora of clutch catches throughout the 2010 season. I will forever remember his one-handed snag against USC that seemed to crush all the Trojans' hope. Oregon needs a strong receiving corps in case the unthinkable happens: a Cal or Auburn shuts down the running game.
The Ducks are in good hands. David Paulson and Lavasier Tuinei will return for their senior seasons, as well as household names Justin Hoffman and Josh Huff. In addition to these seasoned veterans, three new, four-star receivers have signed up.
Names to Remember
Devon Blackmon and Tacoi Sumler. Devon Blackmon is the fifth-ranked recruit for wide receiver in the country. He's sneaky and freaky fast, as this can attest to.
Tacoi Sumler, if it's possible, is even faster than Devon Blackmon. Sumler boasts an astonishing 4.38 forty meter dash. See this for proof:
2011 Receiving Corps Grade: A+
Nate Costa is gone. Oregon's special teams need a new Nate Costa.
Oregon kicker Rob Beard will be stronger, and hopefully better next season. Oregon returns the nation's second leading punt returner Cliff Harris, along with kickoff returner Kenjon Barner. Many others return who have blinding speed and amazing athleticism. Names like Christian French and Colt Lyerla might be relevant as well.
Name to Remember
Marcus Mariota. Some day there will be a brilliant fake field goal or a jaw-dropping two point conversion, and this is going to be the guy to pull it off while Bryan Bennett and Jerrard Randall battle it out for starting quarterback.
The vast majority of college football fans probably don't know who this is. For those of you just joining us, yes he plays for Oregon, he's a five star running back from Texas recruited by about everyone, and no, he's not Lamichael James. His name is Lache Seastrunk, and he's one of Oregon's brightest prospects. With his size, speed, and athleticism, the sky's the limit. Look into this guy.
Everyone who follows football recruiting knows who De'Anthony Thomas is. Yes, he's amazing. He's the top-ranked athlete in the country. He could be the best cornerback in the entire country. Instead he wants to play running back for the Oregon Ducks. I still suspect he'll play a fair share of cornerback, but if he insists on being on the offensive side of the ball, Lamichael James, Kenjon Barner, and Lache Seastrunk might prove to be stiff competition. Either way, De'Anthony is an outstanding commit. The black mamba should fit in well with Oregon's offense. Here's a highlight reel.
Colt Lyerla is one of the best recruits to ever come out of Oregon. His size is massive, his athleticism is off the charts, and he could very well be one of the best future linebackers Oregon's ever had. He played running back in high school, but just watch one of his videos and you'll see why he's such an amazing recruit. He has some of the best highlights I've ever seen.
So he's not a five-star recruit(although according to ESPN, Oregon has none). As the fifth best athlete in the nation and Iowa's top prospect, Christian French looks like a five-star recruit to me. Pac-12 teams must all be clenching their fists and thinking, "great, just what Oregon needs: another freak athlete with a 4.4 second forty and devastating evasiveness." That's just what he is, too—another perfect fit for Oregon. He could play cornerback, wide receiver, or even strong safety or linebacker. Either way, one thing for sure is that he'll be an amazing presence on special teams. Highlight reel? Sorry, this is the best I can do. It just shows he's a laid back, cool guy.
So back to February, the cold season--the season devoid of football. Ducks fans everywhere should feel a little warmer knowing what awaits this September. Until then, Go Ducks! And bring on LSU in the Cowboy Classic.