Masoli Makes Oregon Very Familiar

Some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the 2010 Rose Bowl is about Oregon's recruiting of Terrelle Pryor and subsequently Jeremiah Masoli. After the conclusion of the 2007 football season, the Ducks needed a replacement for Dennis Dixon, who had made the Ducks a college football household name.

Dixon was phenomenal during his senior season and many feel he likely would have easily won the Heisman Trophy while leading Oregon into the BCS Championship game. Unfortunately, a knee injury suffered against Arizona changed all that. But for the Ducks, the dye was cast for the type of player needed to run Chip Kelly's offense. In Kelly's offense the quarterback is the essential element for success.

"I want a quarterback that can run not a running back who can throw," said Chip Kelly of the type of player needed in his system. "In the Pac-10 the quarterback may have to throw the ball 30 times a game."

Oregon hit the recruiting trail hard in search of Dixon's replacement. Two high school quarterbacks, Chris Harper, a 4-star physical quarterback from Wichita, Kansas and Darron Thomas, also a 4-star quarterback, who is nearly a Dixon clone in looks and ability. Still though, in the recruiting process the Ducks found a player in Pennsylvania, Terrelle Pryor was interested in a team on the West Coast.

While no one will ever know all the details of Pryor's recruitment, it fueled much speculation on Scout message boards as to when Pryor might visit Oregon. When National Letter of Intent came and went on February 6, 2008, Pryor had not signed his letter and would not reveal his inner most thoughts on where he might end up. Duck fans felt that by not signing his LOI, it was an indication that Pryor was stalling his decision, somehow trying to arrange a trip to Eugene for a visit. Ultimately, Pryor made his decision and off he went to Ohio State.

"We may not have taken Jeremiah at that point in time (had Pryor picked Oregon), but I don't know," Kelly says of the 2008 recruiting class. "I'm glad with the guy we got and I'm real happy with Jeremiah."

In late March of 2008, Jeremiah Masoli's name started popping up in various reports and he was mentioning Oregon. Masoli spent his freshman year of college at San Francisco City College and led the CCSF to Junior College National Championship. On the way he earned First Team All-NCFA and was voted the offensive MVP of the conference as a freshman in 2007. He had completed 214 of 349 passes for 3,065 yards, 26 touchdowns and only three interceptions. The hyperbole over Masoli's recruitment was non-existent compared to Pryor's and when Masoli picked Oregon over Arkansas, many fans weren't exactly sure who Jeremiah Masoli was.

eDuck Sports first spoke with Masoli in May, 2008 and the quarterback made one thing clear. Despite the fact the Ducks had two veteran quarterbacks (Nathan Costa and Justin Roper) and two freshman quarterbacks who had already signed LOIs, Masoli wasn't afraid of competition.

"All those guys are great quarterbacks, with great arms and good skills," said Masoli of his future teammates. "I have confidence in myself and want to compete. Competition makes everyone better."

During the 2008 summer workouts, Masoli again reiterated that he looked forward to competing for the starting job. An injury just before the start of fall camp slowed him down and when the 2008 season started, Masoli had only one week of contact prior to the opening game with Washington. Despite the limited amount of work in practice, Masoli threw for 126 yards on a 9-for-17 effort with two touchdowns including a 48-yard scoring play in the 44-10 Oregon win. Masoli's next extended playing time was against Washington State on the road and he responded by throwing for 161 yards and two touchdowns in a 63-14 route of the Cougars. From the WSU game on, Masoli was the starting signal caller for the Ducks. In 2008, Masoli was 6-2 as a starter and the Ducks won those games by an average of 25 points per game. Masoli threw for 1,744 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also rushed for 718 yards and 10 touchdowns.

This season, Masoli has thrown for 2,066 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also rushed for 659 yards and 14 touchdowns and has been an opposing defensive coordinator's nightmare. So when the question is asked of Kelly, who he would rather have at the helm of his squad in the Rose Bowl, the answer is easy.

"Jeremiah is the ideal quarterback for us right now," admitted Kelly.

And Kelly has a quarterback who will make Oregon even a bigger name in college football.

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