Friday, February 22, 2008

Team Recruiting Countdown: No. 16 Oregon Ducks

No. 16 Oregon Ducks (Pac-10 No. 3)

2008 haul: 20 signees, 0 Athlon Consensus 100

Scouting Report:

Offensive skill positions were likely the top focus of the Oregon Duck coaching staff this recruiting season. They certainly have options now. Chris Harper (Wichita, Kan.) is one of the most versatile prospects in the entire nation. He has the body of a tight end or linebacker but the skill set of a quarterback or wide receiver. Look for him to have the ball in his hands. Lack of depth at the wide receiver spot, combined with three graduating seniors will push Harper into a pass catching role of some sort.

The running back spot, however, is now a loaded position for the Ducks. JUCO freight train LaGarrette Blount (Scooba, Miss.) will come in right away and press for time. Backing him up will be the speedy LaMichael James (Texarkana, Texas). James’ 180 pounds are the lighting to Blount’s 230 pounds of thunder. Watch out for return specialist and open field dynamo Kenjon Barner (Riverside, Calif.).

Dion Jordan (Chandler, Ariz.) will need work as a blocker but is ready to step in and be a contributor in the passing attack.

Bellotti only landed two offensive line prospects but they are good ones. Nick Cody (Brush Prairie, Wash.) has one of the most remarkable stories to tell and is an incredibly grounded young man. He has great size and killer instinct in the trenches. Hamani Stevens (Hemet, Calif.) is arguably the best center prospect in the nation.

On defense, JUCO tackle Justin Thompson (Torrance, CA) and linebacker DeWitt Stuckey (Stockton, Calif.) could both see playing time in their first seasons in Eugene.

What is so impressive about this class is the ability to recruit nationally. The Ducks landed four kids from Texas and one each from Kansas, Mississippi, Arizona, and Georgia. Don’t forget, Oregon is still a player in the Terrelle Pryor sweepstakes. Although its unlikely the Ducks land Pryor, it is still a testament to Mike Bellotti and his staff for even being involved with the top player in the nation, who is nearly 3,000 miles away in Pennsylvania.

As usual, Oregon did well in California, landing 10 prospects from the west coast state. Oregon landed only one prospect from its home state: Scott Grady (Tigard, Ore.).

Top Prospect: Darron Thomas – ATH – Aldine, Texas (6-4, 195)

This could have been Chris Harper. The two will likely battle for playing time at the quarterback position with the loser moving to another position. The edge goes to Thomas due to the fact that he is a better passer and is already on campus working in the Chip Kelly system.

Thomas is a difference maker on the ground from the quarterback position. He is a thicker version of Dennis Dixon and is a perfect fit in the spread-zone-read-option offense. He has incredibly fast feet and gets from 0-60 in no time at all. He does not have a strong arm but does show nice accuracy and touch on his passes.

Best of the Rest:

Chris Harper – ATH – Wichita, Kan. (6-2, 230)
Dion Jordan – TE – Chandler, Ariz. (6-6, 220)
Nick Cody – OL – Brush Prairie, Wash. (6-5, 290)
Hamani Stevens – OL – Hemet, Calif. (6-4, 285)
LeMichael James – RB – Texarkana, Texas (5-9, 185)

Sleeper: Kenjon Barner – RB – Riverside, Calif. (5-10, 170)

If LaGarrette Blount is Owen Schmidt and LaMichael James is Steve Slaton, then Barner is Oregon’s version of Noel Devine. He may be small but he is impossible to catch, much less tackle. He will be an immediate impact performer in the return game and in garbage time. He is a home run threat anytime he touches ball. His feet are lighting quick and can accelerate to full speed very quickly.

No comments: