Kelly Introduces 2011 Class

Eugene -- Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly introduced the 2011 recruiting class today consisting of a total of 22 players including 20 high school seniors and two junior college players.

Chip Kelly said that he is happy with the class and is impressed by the athleticism and speed of the players that soon will don the Oregon colors. None of the players have yet enrolled, though some are in the process of getting into school in time for spring practice. University rules prevented Kelly from identifying who may be currently in the enrollment process.

The head man indicated that the key needs of the team were met and that his coaches feel they will have a better idea on personnel deployment after the spring workouts conclude. This suggests that current members of the team could be shifted but Kelly would not elaborate on what those changes might be.

"You always want to replace what left and we graduated some D-linemen and linebackers and offensive linemen and wide receivers," observed Kelly on what his coaches were looking for in recruiting. "That was the key part of our class and that made up the bulk of our numbers."

Coming off a season that saw the Ducks run the table with 12 wins in the regular season and make a BCS Championship game appearance, it would be logical that the success and particularly the BCS championship game experience would be a big plus in recruiting this year. Partially so, says Kelly. Still there are other factors involved why players wanted to come to Oregon.

"Obviously the wind is to our back and not in our face when you go out recruiting," Kelly said of the importance of appearing in the BCS Championship game. "It's just so different for each individual kid and what (the reasons) he chose us for."

Kelly believes some athletes chose Oregon because of the success the Ducks have enjoyed over the last few years, while other bonded with the team and the coaches.

The coach went on to say that his football program does a detailed investigation in determining what kind of person the football player is. The Ducks talk to teachers, coaches, guidance counselors and principals trying to get as good of picture as possible in order to determine if the prospective student-athlete would make a good representative of the university.

Many might think that if a player is an offensive lineman in high school he'll be in the same position in college. The coaches though won't discount that a player will stay in the same position. However nothing is really set in stone as far as a player's career at Oregon. The coaches must first actually see the athlete perform in practice.

"We want to get them here and try them out," Kelly said of where players might fit into the Oregon system. "You sign them in February and you are going to see some different bodies when they roll in here in June."

Fans sometimes make much out of the positions a player is initially recruited, however that all could change because many factors. Kelly indicated that he allows athletes to play where they want. He knows that the competition is going to dictate where the recruit actually ends up. The player discovers that he might get earlier playing time in another position and that is why Oregon wants to bring in as many good athletes as possible.

"They're smart enough to figure it out," related Kelly.

One area of major concern was replacing five senior offensive linemen. Kelly is very impressed with the incoming class but indicated that the Ducks would maintain their policy of trying to expose the players to as many positions as possible.

"I'm really impressed with all the offensive line prospects we brought in," remarked Kelly. "We don't them all to be centers, we want to spread them out."

Kelly feels there are opportunities for the new group of wide receivers, particularly Rashaan Vaughn to come in play as the tested depth at wide receiver has dropped with the departure of Jeffery Maehl and Drew Davis.

One player from the state of Oregon, Colt Lyerla was described by Kelly as arguably "the best athlete in the country." Lyerla is listed as a wide receiver but could play tight end, running back, defensive end or outside linebacker.

When asked about the up-tempo pace that Oregon operates at, and what did the Oregon do to prepare the incoming recruits for that change, Kelly indicated that all the recruits had been advised of what is going to happen.

"We are going to throw them in and see what happens," Kelly said.

The coach mentioned that there had been high profile visitors that did not warm up to the way Oregon practices and chose to go elsewhere. That is fine with the Oregon coaches as they want players who want to be at Oregon.

An athlete that has been listed as a commit to Oregon was not among the list of signees. Quarterback Jerrard Randall from Miami, apparently must re-take an SAT before sending in his letter of intent. Another player, DeAnthony Thomas from Los Angeles, will announce his decision where he'll spend the next four years on Wednesday night. Kelly did not comment on either player or their status.

Oregon's 2011 Recruiting Class


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