Saturday marks the season opener for Oregon at home against South Dakota. While all eyes will be on the field as the Ducks begin their run at the inaugural college football playoff, not everything will be limited to the action on the gridiron. This weekend will also be the first for official visits from the Class of 2015.
Compared to some of the bigger games on the schedule (see: Michigan State, Stanford), Saturday looks to be a light day in terms of visitors. However, it could result in the Ducks’ first verbal commitment since July by the end of the weekend.
Redlands (Calif.) ATH Malik Lovette will be the big name in town and the four-star prospect has Oregon in the driver’s seat for landing his services. The talented 5-foot-11, 175-pound running back/wide receiver is a weapon at both positions as noted by Scout.com national analyst Greg Biggins:
“One of the most explosive playmakers out West with the ability to play multiple positions at the next level. He was originally rated among the top receivers in the region but the more we watched him, it became evident that running back could be his best college position. He's electric in space and has the ability to score from anywhere on the field. He's a powerful kid with a strong body that can take a hit and make yards after contact.”
In a recent interview with eDuck on Aug. 19, Lovette stated that not only were the Ducks his top choice at the moment, but if the visit is a success, he plans on ending his recruitment early.
“I’m sure everyone knows if I like it, I plan to commit and just go from there,” he said.
The Ducks like him more as a slot wide receiver, but Lovette mentioned that they’ve broached the idea of using him in the backfield depending on the situation.
But after prized 2015 verbal commit all-purpose back Taj Griffin suffered a torn ACL in his left knee last week, Lovette would be a great addition from a multi-use standpoint if they needed him to juggle positions.
Speaking of Griffin, he was slated to be in town as well with his team on a bye-week, but that has been postponed until after his surgery according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Although the knee injury was a tough pill to swallow for fans, the fact that Griffin has practically a year to heal up before fall camp next season is at least encouraging.
Whether or not Griffin will be able to play next season can be looked at as a win/win. If he heals up without complications, Griffin, who had three touchdowns in the first quarter of a 52-49 loss last week, could come in during fall camp and earn snaps and a spot on the depth chart, similar to the way Royce Freeman has this year.
However, with the aforementioned log jam at the position, if Griffin had to use a redshirt year, he could assume a bigger role in two seasons with Marshall due to graduate if he doesn't burn his redshirt and Tyner becoming NFL draft eligible.
Either way, it will be a while before we see Taj Griffin on a football field again, but if he can return to form coming off of the injury, he promises to be something special in an Oregon uniform.