Reflecting on the 08 Recruiting Class

A total of 21 student-athletes signed letters that committed them to Oregon. However, the biggest news yesterday was not so much what happened, but what did not happen -- Terrelle Pryor, the country's best high school quarterback announcing he was postponing his commitment decision.

As soon as Terrelle Pryor announced he was not going to submit a LOI anywhere on Wednesday, that was an immediate lift in the hopes of the Oregon coaching staff that the final tally of commitments to Oregon could be raised to 22. To say the spirits of Mike Bellotti and his staff were bolstered by Pryor's announcement is an understatement. While Bellotti couldn't directly talk about Pryor, it was clear the talented signal-caller from Jeannette, Pennsylvania was on the Duck headman's mind.

"We are excited about recruiting people who have interest in this program and I think they see certain things we're doing that fit what they do," said Bellotti. "I think as such you can talk about the best recruits in the nation are interested in visiting us and if necessary even delaying their decision to make sure they have a chance to visit the University of Oregon."

Pryor announced on Wednesday that he would not make a decision on where he would attend college, indicating that he wants to visit Eugene before making a commitment. Pryor lists Oregon along with Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State as his finalist.

It is entirely likely that Pryor would have made a trip to Eugene had his commitment to his high school basketball team not prevented him from doing so. Many may scoff at the notion that something like a high school basketball schedule would keep a high profile athlete like Terrelle Pryor from making a decision, but perhaps those folks have some sort of agenda on their mind.

Anyone who has followed Pryor's football recruitment knows that this story has been a roller-coaster ride of rumors, innuendo, daily updates that seemed to be contradicted almost immediately after publication. According to some, Oregon has little or no chance at Pryor. Yet Pryor maintains his desire to visit Oregon.

One unnamed source even went so far as to say that the Pryor story is so convoluted because of the coverage and people with agendas attempting to sway Pryor that Pryor should really only listen to two people, Charlie Batch and Jeannette High School Coach Ray Reitz. Batch, the former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback is a personal friend of Pryor and Reitz only have Pryor's best interest at heart according to the source while others may not. The source also said that's Bob Lichenfels has been the most accurate, truthful and unbiased writer in his coverage of the Pryor recruiting story.

We will all have to wait and see just what Pryor intends to do but it is safe to say that the Oregon coaches are feeling much more confident now about landing Pryor after he decided to delay his commitment, unlike those observers who give the Ducks' hardly no chance.

Ellis Krout, 6-4, 190, a wide receiver from Gavilan Junior College, originally from Gilroy, California sent a Letter of Intent to Oregon on Thursday to bring the total number of signed letters to 21. Of the group including five junior college players, 15 high school players plus a delayed entry by Carson York from last year's recruiting class, three have already enrolled for winter term at Oregon. Besides York, John Boyett and Darron Thomas began classes in January. According to Bellotti, LaGarrette Blount, Blake Farres and Chris Harper will enroll for spring quarter and available for spring workouts in April.

Oregon's 2008 Commitment List could be as good as any that Oregon has signed but Bellotti wants to wait before he makes a comparison of just how good this class is.

"Ask me in two years and I think I'll have a really good idea," responded Bellotti to the question of just how good the 2008 recruiting class is. "Two years is a really good acid test because by then I would expect most of these young men to be helping us either on a full-time or part-time basis. Last year's class was rated eighth, ninth or tenth in the nation and 10 of those young men played as true freshmen and several of them started games."

Interestingly, 10 of the signed players come from California, four from Texas, and one each from Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho (York), Kansas, Oregon and Washington. While only three players come from the Pacific Northwest, Bellotti pointed out that the Ducks would continue to seek players from large metropolitan areas and that Oregon would look not only at players from Southern California but elsewhere. Houston, Texas for example has a population base of over six million people while Oregon has a population of three million people. Obviously it is in the Ducks' best interest to comb the heavily populated areas to find the kind of players that will help the Ducks chances at success.

"We will recruit nationally on a regular basis," said Bellotti of Oregon's future recruiting efforts.

So that's it so far for 2008 as the Ducks traveled all over the country to find players for the spread offense and who knows? There might even be one more recruit this year from Pennsylvania.

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