Recruiting Different for the Ducks

Once again this year, many Oregon fans are questioning why schools like UCLA are loading up early with verbal commitments, while the Ducks currently have only one public pledge.

Many also question whether the Ducks and Beavers can keep the top in-state talent in Oregon, so lets take a look at the state of recruiting for the Quackers. What is different about Oregon recruiting and why?

First, let's take a gander at what has been going on in-state. When Oregon and OSU are successful on the field, the majority of quality in-state players will sign with them if offered. For example, in the last five years the state of Oregon has only lost two players to UW in Spencer Marona and Taylor Barton (late of Colorado). Yes, UCLA got Bryce Bohlander and Troy Polamalu and Chad Cook went to USC, but very few have left the state. We will leave out Mormon kids like Luke Staley who signed with BYU. Kids like Joey Harrington and Mike Belisle who both turned down Stanford and Seth McEwen who turned down Washington have been Duck fans all their lives. The Oregon was also a childhood favorite of Kellen Clemens could have signed with just about any school in the country last year, but decided to stay home to play for the Ducks.

This is the same case for many of the California kids. They have a lifelong history with the nearby schools whether it is California, Stanford, UCLA, USC or now even Fresno State, who can accept more partial qualifiers. Yet, Oregon must recruit the majority of their players from California, since the state of Oregon simply doesn't generate a large enough recruiting base. Naturally, recruiting California has its drawbacks when you are not the local team. Think of it – no way to attend local Oregon games, no local Oregon television broadcasts, and no local radio broadcasts. It makes it kind of hard to become a childhood favorite. No matter how good Oregon is or becomes, they will always be the outsiders recruiting in someone else's backyard. Even traditional powerhouses such as Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State and the Florida schools are unable to clean up in California. One could also argue that Oregon has done much better than those schools in California, certainly signing more players.

The truth is, in recent years and despite the obstacles, Oregon has done amazingly well recruiting in the golden state. Long Beach Poly, De La Salle and Mater Dei, the three most prolific high school programs in California, all claim players attending Oregon today. Charles Favroth, David Martin and Demetrius Williams played for De La Salle and starting linebacker Kevin Mitchell was an All-American at Mater Dei. Several years ago the Ducks finally cracked Long Beach Poly when they signed running back Herman Ho-Ching and even though Herman has now left Eugene, other Jackrabbits have followed. Current Ducks Samie Parker, Mike Willis and Marley Tucker all prepped at Long Beach Poly, the #2 rated high school team in the country. The quarterback from the #1 team in the country this year is Matt Gutierrez from De La Salle. Matt is a PrepStar Dream team rated signal caller and currently lists Oregon among his five finalists. He will reportedly take an official visit to Eugene this weekend. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect even more players from these three prominent schools to join the Oregon program in the future. Remember, among the many USC and UCLA commitments, there are players who Oregon did not or would not offer. The key to remember is that while recruiting is very important, more than half of the equation is what you do with the players you do get, which comes down to good coaching. How else can you explain USC's supposed top 15 recruiting classes these past seven years and their commensurately dismal performance on the field? If history and performance provides any lesson at all one must consider the glass half full in relation to Oregon recruiting not half empty.

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