Plenty has been written and speculated about regarding Oregon’s association with a third-party
individual who’s been connected with multiple athletes on football rosters across the country,
including a few at Oregon.
Aside from all of the attention Oregon has grabbed in the national media and NCAA inquiries for information regarding the Duck’s payments to recruiting services, this slideshow takes a look at seven of the 23 players in the 2011 recruiting class who are the most intriguing and who are likely to be impactful recruits.
Chip Kelly has spread his recruiting net across the country, and Oregon no longer relies on the fertile southern California hotbed to wrestle away recruits like it did for so many decades.
This class had two recruits from Iowa, two from Texas, a Floridian, a player from Michigan and two Hawaiians.
Roderick Byers was a Duck all the way until switching last minute to Clemson, and Delvon Simmons, a heralded DT, signed with North Carolina.
So, Oregon’s class could have even gone from the Pacific to the Atlantic; nevertheless, some are calling this Oregon’s greatest recruiting crop ever.
It was a tough call, but here is who I left off the list that could easily be argued as a top-seven impactful recruits: wide receiver Rahsaan Vaughn, defensive tackle Jared Ebert, and offensive lineman Andre Yruetagoyena.
7. Lake Koa-Ka’ai Kamehameha, Secondary, 6'4"/250, Honolulu, Hawaii
Lake Koa-Ka’ai may be the sleeper in the class. What stands out about Lake Koa-Ka’ai are his
accomplishments off the field as a student athlete, not just what he brings on the field.
One of his official visits was to Stanford. The Cardinal offered him a scholarship, meaning he’s a stud in
the classroom (3.6 GPA and 1720 SAT) as well as a weakside defensive end.
With offers from USC, Oklahoma, Nebraska, amongst others, that suggests he was a diamond in the rough all the way out in the islands.
His relentless motor and good size, plus his smarts to pick up Nick Aliotti’s defense quickly means he could get some playing time early on as a true freshman behind Terrell Turner, Dion Jordan and Brandon Hanna.
Long term, don’t be surprised if he’s an All-Conference Pac-12 player by 2013 and an Academic All-American before he leaves Eugene.
6. Tacoi Sumler, Christopher Columbus HS, 5'9", 165 lbs, Miami, Florida
One could adequatly describe Tacoi Sumler with the following: blazing speed, rocket launchers in his legs, extraordinarily dangerous in space, and not just the owner of straight-line track speed, but able to make tacklers miss.
His size is the only downside to a guy who was offered by Auburn, Florida State, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Stanford, Tennessee, and West Virginia to name a few (he was highly coveted).
Oregon needs an injection of talent at wide receiver and Tacoi Sumler can immediately be plugged in.
Chip Kelly said on the ESPN nationally-televised spring game that they won’t throw a 500-page playbook at the incoming wide receivers but will give them a handful of effective routes that will enable them to contribute immediately.
Oregon was Tacoi Sumler’s only official recruiting visit in early October; he’s wanted to be a Duck for a while.
5. Christian French, John F Kennedy HS, 6'6", 230 lbs, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Here is another highly recruited elite athlete from across the country who wanted to play for Chip Kelly.
A story came out of the recruiting process that while watching Christian French play basketball for his HS, after the game Chip Kelly took on some of the high school kids in a pickup game and shot hoops in the gym in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Christian French likely needs a year to redshirt to add some strength. But make no mistake: he’s the cream of the crop and the top recruit out of the state of Iowa in his class.
The 4-star recruit likely projects on the defensive side of the ball.
Oregon’s staff fell in love with his sideline-to-sideline speed and athleticism; again, Chip Kelly finding elite athletes and plugging them in to roster spots.
After official visits to Iowa, Notre Dame and Oregon, he made the decision to come west and play in the Pac-12.
4. Devon Blackmon, Summit HS, 6'1", 180 lbs, Fontana, California
Choosing Oregon at the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio in January, Devon Blackmon is part of the heralded wide receiving group coming to Eugene this summer.
He played a lot of quarterback for Summit HS and was an excellent track and field athlete as well, so don’t be surprised if he’s competing for a team national title in track as well every spring.
He’s used to having the ball in his hands and was enough of a special talent that Nick Saban’s staff in Alabama went all the way to California to offer a scholarship, as did Florida and USC amongst many others.
Devon Blackmon could find himself in a role that Josh Huff played as a true freshman last year for Oregon, where the coaches simply wanted to get him the rock in space.
3. Anthony Wallace, Skyline HS, 6'0", 220 lbs, Dallas, Texas
Don Pellum, Oregon’s linebackers coach, must be licking his chops imagining how he can use Anthony Wallace in his schemes.
Coach Pellum and defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti landed a big time ESPNU 150 recruit that is considered one of the top defenders out of the Lone Star state in his class.
He will see the field as a true freshman. With Kiko Alonso’s availability in question, the Ducks could use Anthony Wallace to step in and take meaningful reps with the first and second team linebackers.
He turned down the likes of hometown-school TCU, Texas, USC, Oklahoma, Miami, Georgia, Stanford, Notre Dame, amongst a slew of other top programs that sought his hard-hitting skills.
He’s not afraid of contact, plays with an instinct that you can’t coach, comes in with middle linebacker size and wheels, and that all leads me to believe he’ll see snaps in the opener versus LSU in some capacity.
2. Colt Lyerla, Hillsboro HS, 6'5", 225 lbs, Hillsboro, Oregon
Rivals.com is quoted as saying he is a “spitting image of Brian Urlacher when he was a senior at the University of New Mexico. He is an athletic anomaly who can test off the charts - even at the NFL combine - right now.”
Wow. Where does he project? Tight end? On the defensive side of the ball? He was impressive at tight end in the spring game and will see some significant reps in the tight end rotation as a true freshman.
He’s too great of an athlete to keep off the field.
Long term, it’s hard to say, but one would have to think he’d switch over to the defensive front seven ultimately.
Respected defensive minds at Nebraska, Oklahoma, and USC all offered scholarships craving for his skill set.
The 43,468 in attendance at the spring game seemed to already make Colt Lyerla an Oregon fan favorite, from the sound of the crowd every time he touched the ball.
1. DeAnthony Thomas, Crenshaw Senior HS, 5'9", 160 lbs, Los Angeles, California
The ultimate home-run threat. De’Anthony Thomas is one of the most decorated prep players ever to come from Los Angeles.
He had been considered one of the jewels of USC's class until a late visit to Oregon.
Oregon recruiting him on the offensive side of the ball, not as a CB as Lane Kiffin wanted, was enough to switch his commitment to the Ducks.
“Black Mamba,” as he was known in L.A., was the Los Angeles City Section Player of the Year as Crenshaw HS won its second straight title, and he scored 27 TDs his senior year.
His combination of excellent hands out of the backfield and lighting speed could allow Chip Kelly to pencil him into the “Tazer” role, a hybrid WR slot/RB role, similar to Kenyon Barner’s role in 2010.
He is another playmaker who will see minutes as a true freshman and as long as he can put some muscle on his lean frame in the next few years, he’ll leave Oregon as a decorated player just like he came in.