Drukarev: Oregon football has discovered successful recruiting formula

There was no drama on signing day, no last-minute recruiting stunners. While fellow Pac-12 teams like Stanford and USC grabbed the headlines, Oregon sat in the background, content to sign a solid — if unspectacular — 21-person class ranked No. 16 in the country by

In doing so, the Ducks added plenty of speed, a number of versatile big athletes and filled a number of pressing needs. It was just another ho-hum recruiting efforts for the Ducks, who, despite being possibly the flashiest and most exciting team in the nation on the field, have managed to be only quietly effective on the recruiting trail in recent years.

To be clear, that’s a very, very good thing.

Many of the players Oregon recruits don’t have five-star acclaim (LaMichael James barely earned four-star status out of high school according to, for example) but fit the Ducks’ system and personality. And as Oregon’s success these past few seasons (without hordes of NFL talent) tells us, that’s what really matters.

Take the 2012 class, for example. According to, Oregon signed 10 four-star recruits but no five-star players. Only two players (tight end Pharaoh Brown and quarterback Jake Rodrigues) were ranked among the top five at their respective position. Although Oregon won its fair share of contested recruiting battles with national powers to land the players in the 2012 class, the Ducks weren’t exactly battling with Alabama and LSU for every recruit. @@

Despite the proven formula, each year there’s at least a degree of consternation among Oregon fans about the team’s recruiting efforts. For the past few seasons, the rallying cry has centered on the Ducks’ lack of success at recruiting defensive lineman. Defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro was the target of a great deal of venom and accusations that he just couldn’t cut it in the rigorous Pac-12 recruiting climate as concerns about the Ducks’ defensive line depth emerged. @@[email protected]@

Well, turns out Azzinaro can more than cut it. The Ducks inked an impressive group of defensive linemen in 2012, highlighted by perhaps the nation’s top “jumbo athlete” in Arik Armstead, four-star Portland defensive tackle Alex Balducci, four-star Hawaiian defensive end DeForest Buckner and several other raw but athletically imposing trench talents.

Oregon identified the need for defensive linemen early in the recruiting cycle and filled it with an impressive stable of talent. Just like they did last season when they signed five highly rated offensive linemen and four wide receivers. Just like they do every year.

In 2012, Ducks also filled significant voids at quarterback, tight end and wide receiver with players that fit Oregon’s system.

Oregon signed a pair of athletic, heady quarterbacks – Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie to bolster a light-on-depth stable of signal callers.  The Ducks responded to the graduation of David Paulson and the departure of Brandon Williams by signing the No. 3 and No. 8 tight ends in the nation, according to Rivals, that will team with Colt Lyerla, Christian French, and possibly Curtis White to form perhaps the conference’s most potent tight end tandem in future years.

Oregon applied the same principle to the receiver position. While the Ducks have no shortage of speed at the receiver spot — Josh Huff, Devon Blackmon and Tacoi Sumler are all elite burners — Oregon lacked height at receiver with the departure of Lavasier Tuinei. So, in addition to signing 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6 tight ends, Oregon inked a 6-foot-3 receiver (Chance Allen) and a 6-foot-5 wideout (Dwayne Stanford). @@[email protected]@

Due to geographic limitations, Oregon will likely never have a recruiting class that matches the USC’s and Alabama’s of the college football world. But as long as Chip Kelly and Co. maintain this recruiting formula that has served Oregon’s football program so well in recent years, the Ducks will be successful. Oregon football might not have won national signing day in the eyes of analysts and pundits, but the Ducks are still poised to win the day when it matters most — on Saturdays during the college football season.

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