2006 Recruiting Class Fills Immediate Needs

Eugene, Ore. -- The 2006 Oregon football recruiting class filled immediate needs according the Ducks head coach Mike Bellotti. A total of 22 letters of intent were received by the Oregon Athletic Department today and Bellotti feels that nearly half of the player recruited this year will immediately bolster a team that finished 10-2 for the year and ended the regular season ranked 5th in the nation. Several of the players will be available for spring workouts in April.

"I'm pleased to announce our 2006 football signees," said Bellotti in his opening remarks to media regarding the class. "I think we probably, more than any other time since I've been here addressed specific position needs."

The class included seven junior college transfers and 15 high school players. The new class of recruits includes 13 offensive players and nine defensive players. Bellotti indicated the Ducks signed five defensive backs, five offensive linemen, three defensive linemen, three quarterbacks, two running backs, wide receiver and a tight end.

The defensive backfield will get help in replacing the loss of graduating seniors Justin Phinisee and Aaron Gipson from junior college transfers, Jameel Dowling, 6-2, 179 and Matthew Harper, 6-0, 177 can play either at the safety or cornerback positions. Prepsters Marvin Johnson, 5-10, 188, Devin Mays, 5-10, 161 and Chad Peppars, 5-10, 178 round out the classes defensive backs. Mays had a 10.48 time in the 100-meter dash last spring, Peppars along with Johnson played both offense and defense for their high schools.

"I watched one film on Marvin (Johnson), he made the first 17 tackles of the game," described Bellotti of Johnson's defensive play. "That's the honest to god truth, I said I think he can play."

Two of the offensive linemen, Pat So'oalo, 6-5, 340 and Fenuki Tupou, 6-6, 324 bring immediate support to the offensive and will participate in spring workouts scheduled to start in April. Both are already enrolled at the University. High school players Jordan Holmes, 6-4, 276, C.E. Kaiser, 6-4, 259 and Bo Thran, 6-5, 272 will come to school next fall. Holmes may see time at center and guard. Holmes' recruitment was aided by former Duck football player Brian Brown, who is now a coach at Holmes high school (Yuba City HS). Bellotti call Kaiser a great athlete and had high praise for Thran, one of only two players from the state of Oregon in the 2006 class.

"Bo Thran from Barlow High School," described Bellotti. "I think the best (high school) football player in the state of Oregon."

Two defensive line teammates from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M signed letters of intent to Oregon. Defensive tackle Jeremy Gibbs, 6-2, 280 and defensive end Micah Howeth, 6-3, 252 will head west. Howeth signed a letter of intent to Oregon out of high school but was unable to meet entry requirements and spent the last two years at Northeastern Oklahoma. Joining Gibbs and Howeth is another junior college player, Dexter Manley II, 6-2, 266. Manley, the son of former football great Dexter Manley, only started playing football in his senior year of high school but according to Bellotti has much potential.

"Probably one of the fastest players in the nation at the defensive line position," mentioned Bellotti of Manley's abilities. "Has a tremendous upside."

Three quarterbacks were recruited this year and two of them played in offenses similar to what Oregon runs. Nathan Costa, 6-1, 198 is a player similar to graduated senior Kellen Clemens and also played on the offensive and defensive side (safety) of the ball, as did Clemens. Cody Kempt, 6-2, 193 from Westview high school in Portland had a strong senior season that transformed himself in the eyes of the Ducks coaching staff and convinced them to offer him a scholarship. Westview runs a spread offense, as do the Ducks. Justin Roper, 6-6, 195 was one of the first to send his letter of intent in on Wednesday because he is from Buford, Georgia and is a tall athlete that is a very accurate passer. Bellotti mentioned that Roper's high school team mostly ran the ball last fall.

"He was extremely accurate," Bellotti said Roper's play. "He didn't play a lot in second halves as they won the games by halftime."

While the Oregon running game appears to be very strong next season, Bellotti feels his team has added more quality with Remene Alston, 5-9, 183 and Andre Crenshaw, 5-10, 188. Both players have styles similar to Oregon's Jeremiah Johnson and have finishing speed.

"Running back was another key area for us," mentioned the headman of the team's needs. "We got very lucky."

Derrick Jones, 6-1, 186 signed a letter of intent to Oregon last year but was unable to enroll, however the world-class sprinter is scheduled to enroll in school this spring.

"One of the fastest receivers in the nation," Bellotti said of the speedy Jones. "And a great participant for our track program."

Anther athlete that signed a letter of intent to Oregon but was delayed because of a religious mission is Brandon Bair, 6-7, 238 and a tight end. Bair originally signed with the Ducks in 2003 and has finished his mission and will be in school this spring.

"He's the line of scrimmage tight end that we are losing in Tim Day," Bellotti said of Bair.

An athlete with a familiar last name to Duck fans is Spencer Paysinger, 6-3, 210, the cousin of Ducks' wide receiver Brian Paysinger. Spencer Paysinger may end up as a linebacker for the Ducks though he could also play wide receiver.

"I liked him and felt he was one of the best defensive players we saw on film this year," remark Bellotti of Spencer Paysinger.

Bellotti indicated that he felt the recruiting class filled the immediate needs of the team resulting in the graduation of key players last year and also mentioned that there may still be a couple more players yet to announce their decision and send a letter of intent. NCAA rules prohibit Bellotti from specifically identifying who those players may be.

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