Another National Signing Day is in the books.
Oregon's class officially rounded out at 18 players, going as high as 19 with defensive tackle Wayne Kirby's morning commitment, but falling back down with the de-commitment of four-star RB Vavae Malepeai, who ended up at USC following a weekend visit.
The loss of Malepeai no doubt stings. The Ducks had suffered five de-commitments during the 2016 recruiting cylce heading into National Signing Day, including the loss of their best defensive prospect in four-star cornerback Jared Mayden. But Malepeai, arguably the Ducks most promising offensive commit whose uncles played for the Ducks in the 1990s, always seemed like a sure thing until his last-minute visit to Los Angeles to visit the Trojans.
Similar to the way Oregon ended its season, the Ducks suffered a gut punch on National Signing Day.
But of the 18 still left, Oregon has found some building blocks for the future and maybe even some immediate contributors.
The Ducks landed five players in the Scout 300. Four-star wide receiver Dillon Mitchell, who earned Gatorade State Player of the Year Honors in Tennessee, looks to be a promising wide receiver for the future of Oregon football. And don't sleep on Tristen Wallace, a slick offensive weapon with terrific size (6-foot-3, 225-pounds) that will contribute in multiple ways down the road.
In-state safety Brady Breeze and his teammate, linebacker La'Mar Winston, will add depth to the new 4-3 defense under Brady Hoke. Joining them will be four-star defensive end/outside linebacker Bryson Young.
Young and Winston are actually part of the most promising linebacker haul in years. Four-star prospects Keith Simms and Darrian Franklin, junior college transfer A.J. Hotchkins and three-star prospect Hunter Kampmoyer all enter in a year where Oregon put a big priority on filling holes at those spots. While a number of them could eventually end up further up on the defensive line according to head coach Mark Helfrich, linebackers coach Don Pellum will still have plenty to develop over the coming seasons to mold a productive group as the Ducks look to find their footing again on defense after a poor 2015.
Winston, Simms and Franklin alone are ranked in the Top 25 at their respective positions nationally and Hotchkins, a former local prospect out of Tigard, comes in ranked No. 21 in the JUCO rankings.
Kirby's arrival gives the Ducks their lone defensive tackle commit in the class and it was needed given the new shift in defensive scheme. Speaking of big men, offensive line coach Steve Greatwood continued his steady string of success on the offensive line with commitments from three-star California prospects Logan Bathke and Jacob Capra at tackle and Samuelu Poutasi at guard. Expect these three to be eased into the system but to provide depth as they work their way through the ranks in the coming seasons.
Rounding the class out are two three-star safeties in Troy Dye and Eric Briscoe, both of whom enrolled early along with seven other commits this year. Both prospects could see time at linebacker in the future depending on their growth according to Helfrich. Cam McCormick promises to be an intriguing look at tight end once he fully heals from a knee injury. An optimistic prospect, he's got the size at 6-foot-5, 225-pounds to develop into another solid tight end for coach Tom Osborne.
And then there's the quarterbacks. At one point, Oregon had locked up four-star quarterback Seth Green and looked to have things well in hand. Then, following the departure of Marcus Mariota, the Ducks hit a wall at quarterback, losing a graduate transfer in Vernon Adams to injury and seeing that none of their backups had what it took to get the job done in his absence.
Green eventually faded off after he moved to Texas and struggled to find the same success he did in Minnesota and the Ducks began shopping around, flipping four-star mobile quarterback Terry Wilson from Nebraska and snatching up local prospect Justin Herbert out of Sheldon High School in Eugene. Green did not stick around and would end up de-committing, leaving the Ducks with two potential suitors for the future of the quarterback throne.
Whether or not one of these two is the future remains to be seen. The Ducks have seen one QB leave the program this offseason in Morgan Mahalak and they will try the graduate transfer route again this season with Montana State transfer Dakota Prukop. But when it comes to in-house prospects, one of these 2016 commits or Travis Jonsen (2015 class) figure to be the future of the program on paper.
2016's recruiting cycle is officially in the books. Who's ready for 2017?