Most of the news in college football right now is about the initial college football playoff and Oregon secured their place after avenging their loss to Arizona on Friday night. I'm sure everyone involved with Oregon's program was pretty damn happy about the outcome of the game and is looking forward to their matchup with Florida State in the Rose Bowl in January.
Looking forward is something that is critical for every college football program. There always has to be a plan in place for when players graduate or leave the program. There are always new recruits that have to come in and replenish the program.
Mark Helfrich knows that. It's one thing to get to the playoff (and hopefully win it), but it's another thing to be a playoff team year after year. That's why he headed to Hawaii after the game to visit defensive tackle Rex Manu and secured a commitment from him after thumping Arizona.
Manu is a former Stanford commit and a perfect fit as a nose tackle in Oregon's defense. He flashes great hand violence off the snap and should be the kind of guy who can eat up double teams in the middle of the Ducks defense in a couple of years. Adding him to go with another stud from Hawaii in defensive end Canton Kaumatule is arguably more important than getting more blue chip skill position talent like Malik Lovette and Taj Griffin.
Oregon was able to survive a slow start on offense on Friday night because of the way the defense controlled Arizona. Like their star cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu said after the game, even though the Ducks are known for offense, it doesn't mean that they can't play pretty good defense as well.
Manu is a piece that should help keep the Ducks defense strong down the road.
On to the rest of the recruiting news you may have missed from the past week...
- Speaking of strengthening Oregon's defense, 5 star edge player Josh Sweat is currently on an official visit to Oregon. The Ducks are trying to state their case at the last minute before his expected announcement this week. He's supposed to be announcing his decision Wednesday morning and the Ducks are seen as a long shot, but who knows, maybe he'll be wowed on the visit and end up heading to the west coast.
Oregon was getting a lot more attention from some big time national recruits on defense early like Sweat, defensive lineman CeCe Jefferson, and defensive end Byron Cowart, but Sweat was the only one who made it to campus with Jefferson and Cowart likely staying closer to home in the southeast. With Oregon establishing themselves even further as an elite program with an appearance in the playoff, I would expect to see more national prospects on defense looking at the Ducks in 2016.
- Oregon's in-state rival is set to have their recruiting class begin to crumble apart with Mike Riley leaving for the Nebraska job. I wrote on Friday how this is going to create a lot of uncertainty within the recruits that are already committed and it's already starting to come to fruition.
Linebacker Tyrin Ferguson said he was solid to Oregon State because of his relationship with linebacker coach Trent Bray. Fast forward to two days later and with Bray joining Riley with the Cornhuskers, Ferguson is now a Nebraska commit. Riley is bringing several other coaches from Oregon State with him so it wouldn't be surprising to see some other Beaver commits to flip as well while some other commitments might pursue other opportunities or wait in limbo for Oregon State to make their hire. It's the ugly part of the busines, but it's how the game works these days
- It doesn't look like any other Pac-12 head coaches are going to be leaving, but there are always staff changes that follow disappointing seasons. Mike Leach let go two defensive assistants early last week. Defensive coordinator Mike Breske being let go directly led to Wazzu losing its top ranked commitment, cornerback Austin Joyner.
Joyner hasn't eliminated the Cougs completely, but has Washington right back in the mix. He took a visit to UW this past weekend.
- Wazzu did receive some good news with what should turn into some immediate help for their struggling defense in 2015. Riverside CC was one of the top junior college teams in California last season and the Cougs received commitments from four defenders from their this weekend. Linebacker Jonah Moi and defensive lineman Jeremiah Mitchell are the two who stood out the most to me on film. I would not be surprised if all four turned into significant contributors the next two seasons.
- Cal picked up an under the radar edge player from the state of Washington yesterday when Cameron Saffle committed. He's not going to be an immediate impact guy, but flashes some skills on film to make you think he could develop into a good pass rusher down the line.
- I've been on record with my thoughts about Cal quarterback commit Ross Bowers and how I think he is severely underrated. It turns out he has way more athleticism than even I thought he had. Check out this flip in the end zone for a touchdown over at California Golden Blogs and prepare to have your jaw drop.
- Most of the focus right now is on 2015 recruits, but I figured I would end off talking about a rising 2016 recruit. Defensive lineman Oluwole Betiku is another great player coming from J Serra that should start to emerge on national top 100 lists very soon. J Serra has produced a ton of Pac-12 players in recent years (like Marqise Lee, Robert Woods, and Paul Richardson) and have a ton of talent that are going to be likely signing with Pac-12 schools in February.
At the top of that list is 5 star defensive tackle Rasheem Green. I watched a J Serra game earlier this season where it seemed like Green and Betiku were racing each other to make plays in the backfield and knew then that he was going to be a big time recruit in 2016. Betiku is now getting a ton of attention from programs around the country and just received a USC offer this weekend. Every school in the conference is likely going to be fighting to gain his signature.