Oregon fall recruiting update

Oregon football has landed 12 verbal commitments from the 2015 class as summer begins to wind down. Here are the prospects to watch heading into the fall.

Football season is right around the corner and with it brings a renewed focus on the Oregon football program, especially when it comes to recruiting.

Official visits are being lined up, some new names have entered the picture and the race is on to see who the Ducks will find to fill the last half of the available spots for the 2015 class.

Oregon has remained at 12 verbal commitments since July 21, when Honolulu (Ha.) safety Dylan Kane announced his decision. Here are the crucial areas to focus on as the season approaches:

RB — Despite landing a huge commitment from four-star running back Taj Griffin in the spring, it appears the Ducks aren’t done recruiting at this position. On Monday, Oregon formally extended an offer to four-star Texas prospect Chris Warren III , son of former three-time Pro Bowl running back Chris Warren Jr..

A bigger back at 6-foot-1, 220-pounds, he offers a different dynamic from the speedy Griffin. He told eDuck in an interview earlier this month that the Ducks could sneak into his final five when he eventually releases the list, which would lead to an official visit.

Outside of Warren, the Ducks are also in the top five for Virginia Beach (Va.) four-star prospect Jaason Lewis. The former UCLA commit is one of four prospects from Ocean Lakes High School to land an Oregon offer and he's announced he would like to visit.

The Ducks could end up being a big player for 5-foot-11, 175-pound four-star prospect Malik Lovette from Redlands (Calif.). Lovette and local prospect Cameron Scarlett from Portland’s Central Catholic has the Ducks in his top five. They should see a visit from him somewhere down the line. Scarlett could be a running back/wide receiver hybrid in the Oregon system should he end up there.

WR — A heavy dose of the South region makes up a majority of the Oregon targets at wide receiver. SPARQ champion Kirk Merritt from Destrehan (La.) has lined up an official visit for Nov. 1, when the Ducks take on Stanford. That weekend figures to be a big one for the Ducks, and landing someone with the speed and versatility of Merritt, a RB/WR hybrid, would add a nice wrinkle to the Oregon offense.

Coming in for the second biggest contest of the season is Aledo (Tex.) athlete Ryan Newsome. The four-star prospect told eDuck last week that he has all five officials lined up and his first one will be on Sept. 6, when the Ducks take on Rose Bowl champs Michigan State. A Top 30 prospect, Newsome possesses fantastic speed and has been compared to players such Tavon Austin and Brandin Cooks.

A week before that, Buena Park (Calif.) four-star prospect Jaylinn Hawkins will take in the Ducks’ season opener against South Dakota. The 6-foot-1, 164-pound prospect is the No. 29 prospect overall at his position, giving the Ducks a bigger target to look at compared to smaller prospects like Merritt (5-foot-11) and Newsome (5-foot-8).

The Ducks also landed in New Orleans (La.) prospect Tyron Johnson’s Top 10 on Monday.

DL — Top defensive end prospect Josh Sweat will be the marquee name in town when Oregon takes on Stanford. While the spring and summer was dominated by talk of top three Seffner (Fla.) prospect Byron Cowart and his favorable opinion of the Ducks, Sweat’s announcement indicates the Ducks have a shot at landing someone higher on the board.

The explosive and athletic Cowart has yet to schedule an official visit date, leaving his status with Oregon in a bit of limbo heading into the fall. Should they fall out of contention, the Ducks will have other options.

Right now, they are in good shape with four-star Honolulu (Ha.) prospect Canton Kaumatule, three-star Georgia prospects Russell Ude and Gus Cumberlander, and they have offered two junior college prospects in Ulric Jones and Takkarist McKinley.

Ude and Kaumatule have lined officials to Eugene for the Stanford game. Ude has held Oregon in high regard for some time and there’s reason to believe Oregon is making up ground with Kaumatule, who’s been a heavy Stanford lean. Cumberlander has not yet lined up an official visit, but has the Ducks in his final five while Jones (top three) and McKinley (Top 10) have included Oregon in their latest revisions.

LB — Oregon knows it will receive visits from a pair of five-star California prospects in John Houston and Keisan Lucier-South. Houston has yet to announce a date, but Lucier-South will be taking an official visit for the Stanford game.

Landing one of these prospects would give the Ducks an elite player where they’ll need it most in the future. The Ducks are poised to lose Derrick Malone and Tony Washington following this season, after they led the team in tackles and sacks in 2013. Landing a blue chip prospect would give defensive coordinator Don Pellum a way to shore up those losses.

The Ducks will also receive a visit from four-star Tempe (Ariz.) prospect Cassius Peat for the Michigan State contest. For him, it will be a chance to see two schools he has in his final six. And while no dates have been announced, there’s a good chance that Cheyenne (Wyo.) prospect Tevis Bartlett, who recently took an unofficial visit to Oregon, will eventually take an official to Eugene during the season.

DB — Defensively, this is the one area the staff likely won’t have to fret over down the stretch. With three commitments already, the Ducks have a number of prospects that will be clamoring for one of the remaining spots.

Ocean Lakes defensive back T.J. Griffin has expressed a heavy interest in Oregon while prospects such as River Ridge (La.) DB Hunter Dale and Kansas City (Mo.) DB Marquise Doherty are still planning out official visits, but likely will trip to Eugene.

Corpus Christi (Tex.) cornerback Jalen Campbell has TCU and Oregon in his final two and plans on announcing a decision shortly after his official to Oregon on —you guessed it— Nov. 1, against Stanford.

A number of other prospects hold offers, but Oregon should at least secure a visit from Washington (D.C.) prospect Marcus Lewis, who considered Oregon a dream school in his youth. Four-star San Marcos (Calif.) prospect DeChaun Holiday is also eyeing a visit to Eugene, and top prospect Kendall Sheffield has named the Ducks in his Top 12, leaving the door cracked for a visit and giving the Ducks plenty of options this fall.

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