The New Ducks

Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti announced the names of 22 junior college and high school players that signed letters of intent today in a media conference held at the Casanova Center. Bellotti indicated that seven players that are transferring from various junior colleges around the country and 16 high school student-athletes make up the 2005 recruiting class.

Bellotti indicated that the class filled Oregon's needs on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Several players, particularly the junior college transfers may have an immediate impact on next year's Oregon squad. After introducing all of the players (as listed) Bellotti responded to a number of questions from the gathered beat reporters.

James Finley was also included on the list (to make up 23 names) but Finley has already enrolled in school. Two other players not on the Ducks roster at the end of last season, running back T.R. Smith and defensive back Willie Glasper are also enrolled in winter term.

The 2004 Ducks were a disappointment when they finished with a 5-6 record, and Bellotti said that he would seek out playmakers in the 2005 class. So who are the player makers of this class?

"I'd like to think that they all are," responded the head coach.

Bellotti pointed out a number of athletes including Nick Reed, whom Bellotti mentioned was the best football player from national power house Mission Viejo High School. The headman also had praise for Blair Phillips, Jason Turner and Chris Mulvanny. Mulvanny and Turner may be available for work during spring practice in April.

Most questions regarded a player that Bellotti described as the most highly decorated recruit of the class – Jonathan Stewart. Bellotti thought that Stewart could have an immediate impact but also confirmed that senior Terrence Whitehead would be the starter and feature back next fall. When asked his response to suggestions that Stewart would like to equal the year Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma had in 2004, Bellotti smiled and said, "I hope so." The coach went on to say he hoped all the recruits had an Adrian Peterson-type year.

A number of points were brought out during the conference including the fact wide receiver Derrick Jones will enroll in school next fall, but will have to sit out a year as he is considered a transfer student. However, Jones will have four years of playing eligibility afterwards. Jones also plans to participate in track but Bellotti was unable to answer how Jones eligibility would be effected for track competition but did acknowledge that Jones maybe the fastest student on the Oregon campus next year. A question regarding former Duck punter David Dittman was asked. Bellotti indicated Dittman was offered and accepted a scholarship in December, but the scholarship would not become effective until Fall 2005. Dittman decided in January 2005 that he would not be able to stay at Oregon and left school the subsequently recruited Matt Dragich, a punter from El Camino College.

Oregon did not recruit a quarterback this year. Bellotti felt that the Ducks would recruit two quarterbacks in next year's recruiting class. In response to the question about the number of state of Oregon athletes, Bellotti mentioned that the Ducks had offered two athletes and one, Matt Bramow of South Eugene accepted. Bellotti also pointed out that Oregon State had only offered three in-state athletes and two had accepted. It has been reported that Oregon offered Ndamukong Suh, from Grant High Schoool in Portland. Suh committed the Nebraska this year. Another Oregon high school athlete, Nick Lomax from Lake Oswego has accepted an offer from Boise State.

On the weekend of January 9th, the Ducks entertained 25 prospective recruits and Bellotti acknowledged that the weekend was successful. Those signees on that particular weekend to Oregon included Stewart, Jeremiah Johnson, Nick Reed, Brian Truelove. Mat Webb and Bramow among others. The Ducks coaching staff did rely on input from current team members' evaluations of prospective recruits. In some cases recruits were no longer considered if team members felt there was not a good fit.

Bellotti did not think that the travel restrictions imposed by the NCAA involving the use of chartered aircraft had much effect on this year's recruiting effort.

Bellotti also indicated while one more player (thought to be Cary Harris of Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif.) has prominently mentioned Oregon, the Ducks head coach does not expect any additions to the 2005 class.

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