The Oregon football program has come a long ways. Duck fans remember when sporadically they would wrestle away an elite recruit from USC or UCLA in Southern California, and the guy would come into Eugene and start immediately. Rich Brooks and his staff in the 1970s and 1980s do not get enough credit for all the hard work, the long hours waiting at airports, before days of Rivals and Scout and the proliferation of national recruiting websites that make recruiting much easier for coaches.
Times have changed in Eugene.
The Ducks are now bringing in 5 star recruits, 4 star recruits, and guess what? Some of those guys are red-shirting. How drastically have times changed at the Casanova Center?
Think not so much of this article as an early Christmas wish list for Chip Kelly’s staff. These are 5 guys on the radar that Oregon can get. There are some guys out there I was close to putting on this list (Nelson Afholor, a consensus five star “athlete” out of Tampa, FL and Eddie Goldman out of Washington D.C. who’s a consensus top 5 defensive lineman in the country) but these five are guys who the Ducks really have a legitimate shot at landing.
Far too many times Oregon fans have gotten their hopes up for the likes of Tajh Boyd (now Clemson’s starting quarterback) who had Oregon in his final three, Marcus Lattimore (now South Carolina’s star running back who had Oregon in his final three), and Terrell Pryor (ok, don’t laugh because we all know how that worked out but he did have Oregon in his final three). Oregon will land a big time recruit in the near future who resides in the Eastern Time zone, but these guys on this list are all reasonable future signees.
Chip Kelly is brilliant in tailoring his offensive schemes to the talents he has on his roster. This list is heavy on the guys in the trenches. Championships are won up front at the line of scrimmage. If Oregon can begin to attract elite level talent on the lines, they’ll inch closer to where they want to be: among college football’s elite.
This offensive tackle from Washington state is a must have.
It’s no secret Oregon’s weakness in their last few high profile games was the offensive line. Nick Fairley made mincemeat of Oregon’s big boys, and LSU’s front seven made Oregon’s offensive attack look very pedestrian. Chip Kelly’s staff has to put a priority on bigger and more physical offensive lineman, albeit guys who still fit Oregon’s system of being athletic enough to pull from a tackle or guard spot.
Zach Banner is an absolute giant, standing 6-foot-9-inches tall and weighing in at an athletic 310 pounds. You can just imagine him at left tackle protecting Bryan Bennett for years to come in Eugene.
A four star recruit by Rivals and a five star prospect by Scout, the prep standout has already taken official visits this fall to Michigan and Oklahoma and according to Scout, is scheduled to visit Notre Dame in late October.
It’s not astonishing that he also holds offers from Alabama, USC, Washington, LSU, CAL, Florida State and Oregon.
With two official visits down and one to go, all far from the Pacific Northwest it makes you wonder if he’s tired of the sleepy northwest and is trying to get out of dodge. The Ducks still have to like their chances, as Steve Greatwood is one of the country’s finest offensive line coaches and Kelly has been on fire on the recruiting trail. Oregon has consistently put offensive lineman in the NFL, and these factors still lead me to believe Oregon has a great shot at landing Banner.
The Tempe Arizona offensive tackle is quite impressive in football pads, standing at 6-foot-7-inches and listed at 305 pounds. You have to feel bad for high school guys who barely made varsity squad, and next thing they know they’ll be lined up against Andrus Peat all night.
Again, as stated in the previous slide it’s a known fact that the Oregon Ducks were embarrassed at the line of scrimmage by Auburn and LSU in their last two high profile games. And by Ohio State, in the 2010 Rose Bowl. The Ducks have to get these big guys on campus to mitigate those big nasty SEC and other elite program’s defensive fronts.
Oregon needs guys like Peat, he’s the number one ranked overall prospect in the state by Rivals, a consensus five star recruit who can be a cornerstone on the line for years to come. Already holding offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Texas, USC, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Florida State, Florida… shall I go on? He’s that good. Oregon’s offensive line coach Steve Greatwood must pull out all the stops to land a game changer like Peat, within NCAA legalities of course.
Oregon will join the ultimate destination:college football’s elite penthouse suite when they begin getting elite defensive lineman. Tyriq McCord is one of those guys. The 6-foot-3-inch, 223 pound defensive end out of Tampa, Fla. is a guy that could play a similar hybrid role that Kenny Rowe thrived in.
Why would the Ducks have a shot at a kid who’s got offers from the likes of Florida, Notre Dame, Miami, USC (South Carolina & Southern Cal) and Georgia? Because, he’s been quoted as saying he’d like to major in Sports Marketing, and he knows if he comes to Eugene he’ll be given the chance to play instantly, while competing for championships.
McCord is clocked in running a 4.76 40 yard dash, a 4.66 shuttle, and a vertical of 32 inches. He’s tabbed as a four star recruit by Scout and Rivals respectively.
The Northern California star is a special player. Not only is he garnering attention from the big BCS schools out west, but he has the likes of Alabama, Auburn and Notre Dame coming to Sacramento to offer him scholarships.
The Ducks have had success finding jewels in the rough on the defensive side of the ball, and in particular the secondary, and turning them into great players but the program is at a level now where they can now go after five star recruits like Shaq Thompson.
He’s got the size—6-foot-2-inches and 210 pounds—and speed—he completed the 40 yard dash in 4.57—and smarts—he has a 3.2 GPA—to be successful.
“He has exceptional balance, instincts and closing speed. He is a sure tackler that seems to be more comfortable closing on a ball carrier than jamming a man at the line. Could play all four spots in the defensive secondary," said Scott Kennedy, of scout.com.
Currently Rivals have Thompson as the second highest rated player in California, and the Ducks have a good shot of grabbing the most highly decorated corner or safety to ever ink a scholarship.
I’m sure Nick Aliotti and John Neal have dreams of Thompson donning a retro “Fighting Ducks” uniform.
Ellis McCarthy is sure to have Oregon’s defensive coaches drooling just watching tape of him demolish offensive lineman in Los Angeles.
The 6-foot5-inch, 311 pound defensive tackle has to be Oregon’s number one priority. This guy can be a program changer.
Rivals ranks him as California’s top ranked prospect.
“He has great strength and can take on a double team without much issue. Excels in stopping the run and solid in rushing the passer." said Brandon Huffman of scout.com.
Not since Haloti Ngata has Oregon had a prolific defensive lineman that kept offensive coordinators up at night. This is the difference between the Ducks and the cream of the crop in college football, elite defensive lines.
Make no mistake, when the SEC boys start streaming west (offers from Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and even Oklahoma in the Big 12) this kid must be the real deal. NFL defensive lines are chocked full of SEC guys, and for them to come out west is not to be underestimated. He also holds offers from Michigan, USC, and Oregon amongst many others.
Rivals uses Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions as who Ellis McCarthy reminds them of. Quite the comparison.