- Brandon P. Oliver, Reporter, DuckNation
While Oregon will never be confused with Texas, Florida, Georgia or California in terms of football talent, the talent pool has become deeper in recent years.
After a tough, in-state start under Chip Kelly, the Ducks have begun to keep the top recruits in state under the fourth-year head coach. Kelly came to Oregon with East Coast connections and swung for the fences in his first year as head man at Oregon. As things have moved forward, Kelly has made a point to lock up the top in-state talent before anything else.
Under Mike Bellotti, Oregon rarely signed the top in-state players. While there were elite players such as Troy Polomalu and Ndamukong Suh, you can't blame the former staff for ignoring the thin talent pool inside the state.
While it is still far from fertile recruiting ground, the state has some elite talent each year.
In 2010, the state had four elite recruits, two of which the Ducks managed to sign. Owamagbe Odighizuwa (Portland, Ore., went to UCLA) and Gabe King (South Eugene, Ore., went to Cal) were both elite defensive line recruits that Oregon wanted badly. King moved to Oregon from North Carolina for his senior season, so losing out on him didn't sting the Ducks as much as losing Odighizuwa.
The Ducks did manage to sign two in-state, U.S. Army All-Americans in Curtis White (Eugene, Ore./Sheldon) and Keanon Lowe (Portland, Ore./Jesuit). White recently left the program after health issues forced him away from the game and Lowe looks ready to make an impact in the coming seasons.
In 2011, the Ducks landed three in-state recruits, including one of the top athletes to ever come out of the state, Colt Lyerla (Hilsboro, Ore./Hilsboro). Lyerla looks to be ready to be the next great Oregon tight end as he takes over as the starter in 2012.
James Euscher (Aloha, Ore./Aloha) and Tyson Coleman (Lake Oswego, Ore./Lake Oswego) also signed with the Ducks and will likely be in the rotation in the coming years. Only Brennan Scarlett (Portland, Ore./Central Catholic) got away. Scarlett signed with Cal.
In 2012, Kelly and the Ducks signed another U.S. Army All-American and former high school teammate of Scarlett's when defensive lineman Alex Balducci (Portland, Ore./Central Catholic) signed with the Ducks.
While the state's top player, Isaac Seumalo, signed with Oregon State (where his father coaches), the Ducks also reeled in LB, Brett Bafaro (Hilsboro, Or/Liberty) who participated in The Opening in 2011, and Oshay Dunmore (Newport, Or/Newport).
Tyner is the fastest high school athlete to ever step foot on a track in the state of Oregon and comes in at No. 101 in the ESPN150, while Voeller, one of the top local offensive linemen in years comes in at No. 171 in the ESPN 300.
If the Ducks manage to hold on to Tyner and Voeller, it will be the first time in years they have signed the top two in-state recruits. The two standouts already committed have set a solid base for the 2013 recruiting class in Eugene.
As football grows in Oregon, look for more elite talent to emerge and look for Chip Kelly and his staff to make that talent an early priority during each recruiting cycle.
3dChantel Jennings and Ted Miller
4dChantel Jennings and Ted Miller