In State Recruiting

Over the years that I have followed college football recruiting I have been asked many questions concerning recruiting in the state of Oregon. How is the University of Oregon doing in state? How many Oregon prep players will sign letters of intent to play football in the Pac-10 Conference? Does Oregon or Oregon State recruit more in state players?

There is no question that Oregon and Oregon State sign more Oregon prep players than any other Pac-10 or Division I school. Over the last five recruiting classes the Ducks have signed 16 Oregon prep kids and the Beavers have signed 20. These numbers only include kids who sign on letter of intent day and not the multitudes of walk-on and transfer kids who in many cases go on to have more prolific careers at their respective schools than the kids originally recruited to sign. The California Bears hold the next highest total with three kids. The other Northwest schools? Washington has signed one, linebacker Spencer Marona in 1998 and Washington State has signed none.

Given that the average recruiting class is 25 it is obvious to see that the state of Oregon although offering up most of its fruit to Oregon and Oregon State cannot sustain the programs nor constitute the primary recruiting ground for the schools. California plays that role as it does for all of the other Pac-10 Conference schools with the possible exception of Stanford.

Its interesting to me that Oregon fans are usually very provincial concerning their understanding of why a blue chip recruit would want to leave the state, yet incongruously have expectations that the best California kids should want to leave their home state to come to Oregon. In 1999 when Salem offensive lineman Bryce Bohlander signed with UCLA (the only Oregon prep player in the last five years to do so) over Oregon, the Duck faithful liken the event to everything from scandal to outright sacrilege. I think Oregon fans tend to be more tolerant of those in state players who sign with Stanford citing the Cardinal's high academic standards and also, ironically, of Oregon State. It can be hard to argue over a legacy where the player's father or brother played for the Beavers such as with 1998's Bend offensive lineman Mike Kuykendall whose brother Joe was at the time a starting tight end for Oregon State. Other circumstances also appear to be understandable. In 2001, the state of Oregon was home to three of the top 11 prep quarterbacks in the nation according to Student Sports and other recruiting services. It was unimaginable that all three would want to go to the same school and in fact, during the recruiting process they all indicated that where the others went would have an impact of where they selected to go. The domino effect occurred when Kellen Clemens of Burns gave a verbal commitment to Oregon soon followed by a commitment from Scappoose's Derek Anderson to Oregon State and then finally Beaverton's Nic Costa's commitment to Arizona.

I have heard much speculation concerning the rise of the Beaver's program and its impact on in state recruiting. Many have said that if the Beavers had had today's program in 1991 then Roseburg's Rich Ruhl, a past four-year Oregon letterman at linebacker and starter on the 1995 Rose Bowl team, would have chosen the Beavers over the Ducks as his dad had before him. The same might also be said for Portland fullback Matt Floberg (1999) whose parents went to Oregon State and were season ticket holders. However, last year, Oregon couldn't convince arguably the best defensive player in the state, Salem's Bill Swancutt, a lifelong Beaver fan, to forsake Oregon State. Instances when Oregon State has out-recruited Oregon have been few. In most cases, if other circumstances such as a legacy or curriculum (engineering) are not involved, Oregon has had its pick of in state players over Oregon State due to its higher winning percentage, bowl record, stable coaching staff and state-of-the-art facilities. Current Beaver starters such as Forest Grove's Mitch Meeuwsen (2000) or Eugene's Tim Euhus (1999) may have elected to go to Oregon over Oregon State if the Ducks had offered them. All that being said, Oregon State is indeed bridging the recruiting gap between Oregon by winning on the field. And, if the Dennis Erickson led Beavers continue to be successful they will continue to make inroads into in state recruiting.

Many of the recruiting services have acknowledged that the 2002 class of blue chip Oregon prep players is somewhat down from previous years. To date only four players have been cited as committing to Pac-10 schools: Salem linebacker J.D. Groves (UCLA), Banks lineman Josh Linehan (Oregon State), Roseburg tight end Joe Newton (Oregon State) and Penelton lineman Shawn Perkins (Oregon). None of these players is ranked in the Top 10 nationally at their positions. Another player, Portland quarterback Legedu Naanee has been reportedly offered by Oregon State as a defensive back, and although he has committed to play quarterback for Boise State he is visiting the Beavers this weekend. Ironically, according to his high school coach Tom McCarthy, Naanee had a scholarship offer this spring to attend Colorado, but as Colorado received a verbal commitment from one of the other two quarterbacks it had also offered, the school rescinded its offer to Naanee. This is a normal occurrence in the recruiting process; players are constantly evaluating the offers they receive against the risks of losing those offers should they wait too long to commit. A number of other in-state players appear to be on the bubble concerning procuring scholarship offers from Division I schools. Portland State has reportedly offered Naanee's teammate, running back Shem Hardnette, as an athlete. Montana State, where he is visiting this weekend, is recruiting him as a running back. Portland's Derry Jackson, the second leading rusher in the state this year, was tabbed a preseason SuperPrep All-American, but according to SuperPrep's Allen Wallace has yet to receive a scholarship offer from a Pac-10 school. In addition to Division II interest, Springfield offensive lineman Steven Blatcheley is reportedly receiving some walk-on or late entrance interest from Oregon State and/or Oregon as is Portland athlete Kyle Faulk, Lakeridge athlete Ryan Force, Medford offensive lineman Dan Johnson, Crescent Valley lineman Hank Therian and Gold Beach tight end Geoff Zuber.

Class 2001

QB Kellen Clemens, Burns (Oregon)
QB Derek Anderson, Scappoose (Oregon State)
DL Bill Swancutt, Salem (Oregon State)
DL Jake Pratt, Salem (Oregon State)
TE Jordan Hunter, Albany (California)
WR John Rust, Lake Oswego (California)
QB Nic Costa, Beaverton (Arizona)

Class 2000

DB Stephen Clayton, Portland (Oregon)
OL Mike De La Grange, Grant's Pass (Oregon)
OL Robin Knebel, Roseburg (Oregon)
RB Seth Lacey, Eugene (Oregon State)
OL Matt Brock, Roseburg (Oregon State)
Ath Mitch Meeuwsen, Forest Grove (Oregon State)
LB David Bergeron, Lake Oswego (Stanford)

Class 1999

OL Josh Adkins, Gresham (Oregon)
DB Eric Cheney, Junction City (Oregon)
FB Matt Floberg, Portland (Oregon)
OL Joey Forster, Salem (Oregon)
TE Tim Euhus, Eugene (Oregon State)
DL Dan Rothwell, Lake Oswego (Oregon State)
OL Matt Davis, Salem (Oregon State)
OL Bryce Bohlander, Salem (UCLA)
DB Troy Polamalu, Winston (USC)
TE Chad Cook, Portland (USC)

Class 1998

OL Mike Belisle, Coos Bay (Oregon)
DL Seth McEwen, Medford (Oregon)
WR Shawn Kintner, Salem (Oregon State)
OL Mike Kuykendall, Bend (Oregon State)
Ath Seth Trimmer, Corvallis (Oregon State)
OL Brian Gray, Coos Bay (California)
LB Spencer Marona Lake Oswego (Washington)

Class 1997

DL Zack Freiter, Milwaukie (Oregon)
OL Kevin Gerlits, Silverton (Oregon)
QB Joey Harrington, Portland (Oregon)
DL Eric Nicolaisen, Portland (Oregon)
OL Ryan Schmid, Lake Oswego (Oregon)
LB Tim Shear, Junction City (Oregon)
LB James Allen, Portland (Oregon State)
OL Keith DiDomenico, Salem (Oregon State)
OL Chris Gibson, Roseburg (Oregon State)
DL Zach Graylum, Salem (Oregon State)
TE Martin Maurer, Cascade (Oregon State)
DL Matt Morrow, Roseburg (Oregon State)
DL Kyle Roselle, Penelton (Oregon State)
TE Mark Walsh, Roseburg (Oregon State)


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