On Wednesday Oregon signed its second consecutive highly regarded recruiting class. It was headlined by Arik Armstead's commitment, but Oregon landed many other quality, athletic players that fit their system. Recruiting services ranked Oregon's haul in the top 20 across the board, including 16th by Rivals.com and 15th by Scout. With scholarships left to give and at least one other player visiting yesterday, Oregon may not be done yet, though Chip Kelly has said he doesn't anticipate signing any more players. With that said and several days passed since players sent in their letters of intent, where does that leave Oregon?
Recruiting rankings are fun to look at but widely acknowledged as an inexact science. Boise State, Wisconsin, TCU, and Oklahoma State rarely recruit top 25 classes, yet all four teams have been inside or near the top 10 end of season rankings over the last several years. All four teams are credited with having innovative coaches who "coach up" their talent. The same can be said of Oregon, who has finished in the top 5 in the country at the end of the season the last two years with classes of players who were not as highly rated as players at schools like Miami, Texas, UCLA, and Notre Dame. ESPN recently looked at this phenomenon when it re-ranked Oregon's 2008 class (which didn't make its top 25 at the time) as the #2 overall class behind Alabama. Clearly, coaching matters.
That being said, class rank and recruiting analysis are not irrelevant. While some schools squander their talent, there is also research indicating that the more 4 and 5 star recruits you sign, the better their chances at developing into elite players. What is exciting about Oregon's last two classes is that they are now combining elite level recruits with elite level coaching. While not quite at the level Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, and yes, Pete Carrol have been in the past, Oregon is knocking on the door and recruiting players that are not only highly regarded by pundits, but who also fit their scheme perfectly.
They are also filling positions of need and addressing weaknesses from year's past. While Oregon has been an elite level team every year under Chip Kelly, their main criticism has been size and strength along both sides of the line. With the #2 rated OL class last year, and one of the best defensive line recruits this year (in addition to great size and youth returning on the DL), Oregon is in great shape to sustain its level of success for the foreseeable future.
All that being said, here's a brief look at the 2012 recruits who have committed to Oregon:
Arik Armstead DE/OT - Armstead is the crown jewel of the recruiting class and the type of player that Oregon fans clamor for every recruiting season: an elite level lineman with excellent size, agility, and athleticism. Armstead was rated by many services as the #1 offensive line prospect in the country, but he prefers to play on the defensive side of the ball, where is also very highly regarded.
Evan Baylis TE - A 4* recruit, Baylis is the #9 ranked TE in the country by Scout.com. He adds depth to Oregon's TE rotation, which is very young, very tall, and very athletic. Baylis is already enrolled at Oregon and will participate in Spring practices, along with Arik Armstead and Jake Rodriguez.
Byron Marshall RB - If you believe Chip Kelly, Marshall was the #1 running back on Oregon's radar all along. He is reportedly a patient runner who runs lots of sweeps in a spread offense, very similar to what Oregon does out of the backfield. Marshall will provide good depth at the RB position with the potential to see the field right away on special teams.
Jake Rodrigues QB - at 6-3, 215, Rodrigues is already a good sized quarterback. He runs well and has good arm strength, and provides much needed depth at QB after DT's early departure. A 4* rated prospect, Rodrigues is already enrolled at the university and with open competition at QB we should know quickly where he stands in the pecking order.
Bralon Addison ATH - a signing day "flip" to Oregon, Addison adds to the depth, athleticism, and speed that Oregon has added at the WR position in the last two years. He could also be used out of the backfield or on special teams, as he played QB and RB in high school.
Alex Balducci DL - Balducci is a home grown talent who can play at either DE or DT in college. He has good size (6-4, 285 lbs) and quickness and will be given the opportunity to compete for playing time right away.
Reggie Daniels S - Daniels brings good size and athleticism to the Safety position. At 6-2, 185 lbs, Daniels can easily add weight without sacrificing any of his quickness. He adds quality depth to a rotation.
DeForest Buckner DE - at 6-7, 250 lbs, Buckner is a tall, athletic defensive end, who probably flew a bit under the radar by playing in Hawaii. He is a 4* rated recruit by both Rivals and Scout.com.
Pharaoh Brown TE - Brown is a 4* rated TE/DE out of Ohio who will likely on offense for the Ducks. Originally committed to Michigan, Brown adds even more depth and athleticism to a suddenly impressive TE corps.
Dwayne Stanford WR - Stanford has great size and the ability to up and over the defender to get the ball. Stanford is from Ohio and was courted by Urban Meyer and Ohio State leading up to signing day, but stayed firm with the Ducks from start to finish.
Oshay Dunmore ATH - Another home grown product, Dunmore is a phenomenal athlete who could play on either side of the ball for Oregon. A Parade All American, Dunmore will also compete in track and field.
Kyle Long OL - A junior college recruit and the son of Howie Long, Kyle only has one year of eligibility and is being brought in to see the field immediately. He is a 4* recruit by Rivals and 3* by Scout. Previously a baseball player, Long brings great athleticism, size, and much needed depth to a line that rotates lots of players.
Brett Bafaro LB - The third local kid in Oregon's class, Bafaro was a standout player on both sides of the ball for his high school team, though he is likely to play linebacker in college. He is rated 4* by Rivals and 3* by Scout.
Chance Allen WR - Allen is Bralon Addison's best friend. He previously committed to Oklahoma State before a signing day switch to Oregon. He brings good athleticism and size and should provide great competition and depth for the WR corps.
Eric Amoako DB - Eric makes up one half of the Amoako twins from Texas. Both play in the defensive backfield and both bring good size, speed, and instincts to the position.
Stephen Amoako DB - see above. Eric and Stephen are very similar players and it should be a lot of fun to see how they play off of each other in college.
Jeff Lockie QB - At 6-2 and 185 lbs, Lockie adds depth to the QB position and is likely to red shirt this season. He threw for 2,449 yards, with 32 touchdowns and six rushing as Junior at Monte Vista High School in Danville.
Stetzon Bair DL - Bair is the younger brother of former Oregon standout, Brandon Bair. A junior college transfer, Bair could see the field right away in Oregon's DL rotation, or red shirt one year before joining the line in 2013.
Terrence Daniel DE - Daniel is 3 star rated recruit from Oakland, California who could play defensive end or linebacker for Oregon. He also played TE in high school.
Cody Carriger DE - Carriger is a classic under the radar recruit. He hails from Butte, MT and is also a talented track athlete. At 6-6 and 230 lbs, Carriger possesses great size and could play a variety of positions for Oregon.
Dylan Ausherman K - Ausherman is a junior college transfer with three years to play two. He fills a very important position of need and one that is highly underrated in the college game. He was ranked the #2 kicker in the country by ChrisSailerKicking.com.