We're in the dawn of a new era of Oregon football. Chip Kelly leaving was a big deal, but the transition hasn't been as rough because of staff continuity. Most importantly, Marcus Mariota was still around to make sure there wasn't going to be much of a drop off.
With apologies to Dan Fouts and Joey Harrington, the best quarterback in the history of the program is now gone and another transition is going to take place in the post-Mariota era. We know this, though: whether it is Jeff Lockie or Vernon Adams for the Ducks this season, there is still plenty of talent left on the roster around the next quarterback.
The next next quarterback is going to have plenty of talent surrounding him as well because Oregon has continued to recruit well. This current class is no different with them off to a good start before the fall with fourteen commitments and eight of them are composite four stars. It would be surprising if they didn't finish in the top tier of teams in the recruiting rankings in the conference after signing day.
Here's some things that stand to me about where there current class stands:
Cut off one head and two more grow back
A Hydra reference may not really fit because I don't view the Ducks as an evil organization, but it does seem like a great skill player will leave and then they grab two more to replace that guy in recruiting. Vavae Malepeai is another speed running back who is a perfect fit for their scheme. He is a composite 3 star, but I feel he is underrated nationally.
They also have two more big play threats at wide receiver committed in wide receivers Dillon Mitchell and Theo Howard. Mitchell has outstanding long speed and could be another deep threat to add to their receiving corps. Howard is more of a smooth athlete, but he has a suddenness to his route running and he does an outstanding job versus press. Howard didn't show the ability to be a jump ball receiver as a junior. I think you can see from the picture above that he showed in camp settings this summer that he has the ability to go up and get it. He is capable of making spectacular catches.
Local blue-chippers staying home
It's been well documented that Oregon's biggest recruiting obstacle has do with their location. There just aren't many top recruits that are from the state of Oregon every year. That means that when there are local recruits that are considered elite, the Ducks need to do everything to keep them home.
Mission accomplished this year with two commitments from Central Catholic (Portland) standouts LaMar Winston and Brady Breeze. Winston is one of the top outside linebackers out west this year and has great pass rush potential off the edge. Breeze isn't a great athlete, but he makes up for it with his physicality and great instincts in coverage as a safety. Both could end up being multi-year starters in the Pac-12.
Prepare for a lot of press coverage
Big corners all the rage and there are two committed to Oregon who both excel at being physical and playing press man. Jared Mayden and Troy Warner. Warner is the most intriguing of the two to me. I think he is a bit more versatile that Mayden and Warner also has great ball skills. He could also be a candidate to play at safety as well.
Some uncertainty at quarterback
Right now the Ducks have Seth Green committed and he's a composite 4 star recruit. He could very well develop into a good player at the next level, but I think he has a long way to go with his consistency throwing the football and he's not the explosive athlete that they have had at the position as a runner.
I know they are still looking to possibly add a second quarterback to the class and having another option for the future should hopefully ease the concerns of any Oregon fans with more competition for Travis Jonsen over the next few years.
A couple of sleepers that could emerge
Two names to remember that aren't near top of the class in terms of rankings. Guard Jacob Capra is a really good athlete for the position and I think he can develop into a high level starter in their offense after gaining some weight and strength in their strength and conditioning program. Defensive end Hunter Kampmoyer is another player I really like. He has great length and moves really well for his size. He's probably not going to make an impact on day one, but could be someone who could outplay some of his higher ranked teammates a few years down the road.