Its been awhile since we've taken an in-depth look at Oregon's football recruiting for the upcoming class. Over the next few days, we'll have a series of articles talking about Oregon's 2011 recruiting class.
First off, to understand recruiting, you have to understand what the team loses and what its needs are for the next season. In the first section of our Oregon Football Recruiting Roundup, we'll take a look at what we lose and what is projected to return, giving us a good idea of what the coaches may be looking for in the upcoming class.
By my count, Oregon will be losing 19 scholarship players to graduation this offseason. Those players range in varying importance to how their departures will affect the Ducks. Some are key starters. Others languish at the bottom of the depth chart. Here is my count of which scholarship players graduate:
RB: Remene Alston
QB: Nate Costa
WR: Jeff Maehl, DJ Davis
TE: Malachi Lewis
We can immediately see the places where the team will get hardest. Both lines suffer the hit of losing three starters; Holmes, Kaiser, and Thran of offense, and Bair, Rowe, and Clark on defense. Linebacker is another place where you see significant losses with both Matthews and Paysinger, so one would expect to hit both of those areas hard. However, you can't simply look at losses, you need to look at who is coming back as well. We lose a running back in Remene Alston, for example, but with four excellent backs returning next year, we don't necessairly need to recruit a running back. A look at the guys coming back will also tell us how many scholarships Oregon has to play with. Here are the scholarship players returning next season. I do not factor in potential early entries, normal offseason attrition, or possible redshirts that still may be pulled:
QB (3): Thomas (Jr.), Bennett (RFr.), Hawkins (So.)
RB (4): James (Jr.), Barner (Jr.), Seastrunk (RFr.), Dontae Williams (RFr.)
TE (3): Paulson (Sr.), Brandon Williams (Sr.), Curtis White (RFr.)
OL (11): York (Jr.), Asper (Sr.), Weems (Sr.), Nick Cody (Jr.), Karrington Armstrong (So.), Everett Benyard (So.), Jamaal Burrell (So.), Trevor Fox (So.), Ryan Clanton (Jr.), Nick Rowland (RFr.), Hroniss Grasu (RFr.)
DL (8): Turner (Sr.), Heimuli (So.), Keliikipi (So.), Jordan (Jr.), Anthony Anderson (So.), Taylor Hart (So.), Isaac Remington (Jr.), Tony Washington (RFr.)
DB (16): Harris (Jr.), Gildon (Sr.), Pleasant (Sr.), Lewis (Jr.), Boyett (Jr.), Grady (Jr.), Brian Jackson (So.), Avery Patterson (So.), Will Wallace (Sr.), Erick Dargan (RFr.), Terrance Mitchell (RFr.), James Scales (RFr.), Derrick Malone (RFr.), Troy Hill (RFr.), Dior Mathis (RFr.), Marcus Davis (So.)
ST (4): Beard (Jr.), Maldonado (RFr.), Rice (Jr.), Drew Howell (So.)
60 62 returning players by my count, meaning we can bring in the full allotment of 25 new players 23 players and still meet the 85 scholarship limit. Trends I notice:
1. We return eleven offensive linemen, but not a lot of experience overall. With five of those eleven being upperclassmen, you would expect the coaching staff to hit that position hard (and as we will see on the next installment, we already have four commits at that position). Factor in that Hamani Stevens could possibly come back from his mission next season, but that's far from guaranteed.
2. Our defensive line gets absolutely rocked. We lose three starters, and there is a good chance that Ricky Heimuli leaves to go on his mission. Major area of need at that position, and the Ducks only have one commit there so far.
3. We are loaded with quality running backs and especially defensive backs. Even though we lose some players at both of those positions, we don't necessairly need to recruit anyone at either. Someone will have to be a special talent to get consideration from Oregon at either spot. Also, while you may be wondering why Oregon has so many DBs, remember that the guys there who don't become stars make up the majority of your special teams.
4. I'm optimistic about linebacker next season, even though we lose two starters. Kaddu, Lokombo, Clay, and Stuckey have a lot of experience, and Alonso was coming along well before his injury. However, with five upperclassmen going into next season, this is another spot Oregon needs to hit hard (and already has three commits).
5. We could use a couple of wideouts, we only have six coming back, and only Huff and Tuinei aren't question marks. While we don't have to replace little used Malachi Lewis at tight end, with two of the returning three being seniors, getting one in this class is not a bad idea.
6. You know Kelly is always going to get quarterbacks, and he's already got commitments from two. That means we can expect a position change from Daryle Hawkins, and I'd bet we'll see him as a wide receiver next season.
7. Special teams are set for next season.
Need Positions: Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Linebacker, Wide Receiver
Strength Positions: Defensive Back, Running Back
In the next installment, we'll look at the players Oregon already has commmitments from this season.