There isn't much left to be said about the importance of the game this weekend for Oregon when Michigan State comes to town tomorrow. It has the potential to greatly affect both programs chances at making the first ever college football playoff this season. That's fairly obvious to everyone.
This weekend also has pretty huge recruiting implications for Oregon too. It's not the biggest recruiting weekend of the year for the Ducks (that would be November 1st when Stanford comes to town), but it's still an impressive crop of recruits headed to Eugene.
Three 3 star commitments will be in attendance with safety PJ Locke (TX), and offensive tackles Calvin Throckmorton (WA) and Brady Aiello (CA) all expected to be there. But what makes this such a huge recruiting weekend for Oregon is the three uncommitted recruits who will be there: 4 star safety Marvell Tell, 4 star cornerback Micah Abernathy (GA), and 3 star Stanford defensive tackle commit Rex Manu (HI).
All three are on the defensive side of the ball and are important targets for the Ducks this cycle. They are off to a fantastic start with offensive recruiting in the 2015 class with Taj Griffin, Travis Waller, Alex Ofodile, and Zach Okun being the headliners. On the defensive side of things? Not so much.
They don't have the numbers or the blue chip talent so far on defense and those three would be massive additions to the class.
I broke down all three of the big defensive visitors this weekend and what kind of players that Ducks could be getting if they ended up landing them.
Tell is an ideal center fielder type as a free safety. He's not a downhill hitter who is going to make a huge physical impact on the game. He'll just be the guy who always does his job.
He takes good angles to the football. If a play is supposed to be a short gain, he makes sure it stays a short gain and that it doesn't result in the other team striking up the band. He is a tall and long player with the skills to cover like a corner if asked to do so.
He's currently planning on taking several visits, but the visit to Autzen Stadium is sure to open up his eyes to what the Ducks can offer. He's one of the top defensive backs on the entire west coast.
He's currently ranked as the 4th best safety in the nation and the 59th best player overall according to 247Sports composite rankings.
Here's my more in-depth scouting report on him and one from SB Nation.
Abernathy is an athletic corner prospect that shines more on offense at his high school than on defense, but has the height/length combo that all programs covet in cornerbacks.
He's a little raw in terms of this technique, but his potential should be extremely high once he concentrates on one position. Oregon is the only school on the west coast that is on his short list right now. He has offers from all over the country including Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, and Georgia. Much like Taj Griffin, he would be a massive get for the Ducks out SEC country.
He's currently ranked as the 21st best cornerback in the nation and the 184th overall according to 247Sports composite rankings.
My scouting report on Abernathy.
Manu may not have the high rankings that Abernathy and Tell have, but he is equally as important because of his position. It's difficult to find good nose guards and Manu has all the tools to develop into a very good one.
And possibly taking him away from Stanford wouldn't be the worst thing for the Ducks either. Even though he is committed to Stanford, all three of his crystal ball predictions on 247Sports are for the Ducks.
He's someone who can play a critical role in the middle of the defense by being strong at the point of attack and eating up blocks. He has the potential to be a tremendous player against the run in the Pac-12.
He's currently ranked as the 49th defensive tackle in the nation by 247Sports composite rankings.
My scouting report on Manu.
There is a good chance that Oregon isn't going to end up with a commitment from any of these three players after the weekend, but a good visit and a good result against Michigan State could go a long way in helping to add them in the future.
As nice as it is to have players like Griffin, Waller and Lovette set to play in Oregon's offense, it would be even better to fill out the defensive part of the class with the same quality level of blue chip players that they already have committed on offense.