Oregon Ducks fans have been witness to one of the greatest rises in college football history over the past two decades. The Ducks have risen from cellar dwellers to one of the hottest names in all of college football. And the facilities, the uniforms and the Nike connection have all played a big role in that rise to the top of the Pac-12.
Along with the success and the increased exposure nationally, has come a major boost in recruiting elite athletes to come to Eugene. It isn't always the high school All-Americans that turn into college stars. Oregon has made a living finding "diamonds in the rough" that have helped build a powerhouse in Eugene.
There have been some big names in the recruiting world who chose to play their college ball in Eugene, but how many of them have lived up to the hype?
The following is the sixth installment of an 11 part series that details ...
• The players who came in as two-star recruits or were unrated coming into Oregon and far exceeded the expectations placed upon them by recruiting services.
• The recruits who were rated four- or five-stars by recruiting services coming out of high school, yet failed to match the hype due to injuries or lack of production.
They were right
Carson York: In 2009, York was named a Freshman All-American. As a sophomore, York was an All-Pac-10 performer and then started every game at guard in 2011. The senior-to-be suffered a major knee injury in the Ducks Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin but is on track to be a full-time starter again in 2012. As a 36 game starter for the Ducks, York was recently named to the Outland Trophy Award watch list as one of the top interior linemen in the country.
Kenny Rowe: Out of powerhouse Long Beach Poly, Rowe came to Oregon with high expectations. The undersized defensive end finished his career among the top 10 on Oregon's all-time list for sacks (23.5) and tackles for loss (37.5). Rowe was All-Pac-10 in his junior and senior seasons before signing with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent.
Terence Scott: Scott showed a lot of talent for the Ducks. If not for having his redshirt pulled late in 2007 due to injuries, Scott would have been the a major contributor in 2009. As a senior in 2008, Scott ranked 6th in the Pac-10 in receiving yards per game, including an average of 101.7 in his final three games as a Duck. Scott signed with the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent and now plays in the CFL.
Darrion Weems: After being buried on the depth chart, Weems started 21 games to end his career in Eugene.
Anthony Gildon: Part of a great class out of Oaks Christian High School Gildon had a disappointing start in Eugene but developed into a starter and became a tough defender for the Ducks. If not for injuries, Gildon's career could have been much more impressive, but he was a solid piece in two BCS runs.
Will Tukuafu: Tukuafu came to Oregon after one year at Scottsdale Community College and became an instant impact player on the defensive line. After earning Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 during each of his first two seasons, Tukuafu was named Second-Team All-Pac-10 as a senior. The three year starter was in the starting lineup for his final 33 games as a Duck. Tukuafu was signed by the Seattle Seahawks in 2010 and maintains a spot on the roster of the San Francisco 49ers.
Drew Davis: Davis came in with some hype and after a slow start he developed into a clutch receiver for the Ducks. He was a standout as a senior while being known for his down field blocking skills. Davis signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 2011.
Not so much
Malachi Lewis: Lewis came in as one of the top 25 high school linebackers in the country. Despite making a switch to a new position, Lewis saw the field in every game of his first two seasons in Eugene. As a junior and senior Lewis saw his playing time and production drop off and his role diminished. Lewis remained a steady team player but he never realized the potential he showed early in his career.
In the 2007 edition, we are including the three stars because of the impact so many of them made on the Oregon program.
Should have been higher
Jeffrey Maehl: Injuries forced Maehl to move from safety to wide receiver late in his freshman year and suffice it to say, the move paid dividends for the Ducks. Maehl quickly became the Ducks go-to receiver in the clutch and a team leader on and off the field. Speaking of being a leader, Maehl ended his Ducks' career tied with Sammie Parker on top of the Oregon single-season (77) and career receptions charts (178). Maehl was a fan favorite and earned First-Team All-Pac-10 as a senior.
Maehl signed a free agent contract with the Houston Texans in 2011.
Terrell Turner: Out of Los Angeles powerhouse Crenshaw High, Turner came in overlooked by many but wound up playing a significant role in Oregon's success on the defensive line. Turner started 26 games in his final two years and was both a fan favorite and a team leader with his passion for the game.
Eddie Pleasant: Coming in as an athlete after an all-star high school career as a running back, Pleasant served many roles during his Oregon career. As an undersized linebacker during his first two seasons, Pleasant developed into a strong tackler and was solid in run support. Pleasant made the switch to rover (safety),a more natural position and began to realize his potential.
As a senior Pleasant was one of the most improved players in the country and went on to earn First-Team All-Pac-12. His development as a player is still a work in progress but his speed, tackling ability and untapped potential led the Houston Texans to sign Pleasant as an undrafted free agent in 2011.
Casey Matthews: Coming from one of football's royal families, Matthews should have been a hotter ticket coming out of Oaks Christian High School. Matthews had 290 tackles in his last two years of high school and made Oregon his future home. Once arriving in Eugene, his knowledge of the game was quickly evident as he saw the field in eleven games as a freshman.
As a sophomore, Matthews appeared in all 13 games and became a regular starter as a junior. In 2009, Matthews earned Second-Team All-Pac10 honors and then came 2010 and a year that would make Matthews a Duck legend. Matthews was a First-Team All-Pac-10 selection, a Second-Team All-American and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the BCS runner-up, Ducks' squad.
The Philadelphia Eagles selected Matthews with their fourth-round pick by making him the No. 114 player off the board in the 2011 NFL Draft.
David Paulson: Duck fans would be forgiven if they casually glanced past the name David Paulson on the list of 2007 signees. Paulson proved many fans and experts wrong by exploding on the scene and becoming a huge piece of Oregon's recent success. Paulson quickly shot up the charts among tight end statistics as he was named First-Team All-Pac-10 and Honorable Mention All-American as a junior in 2010. During his senior campaign, Paulson was named Second-Team All-Pac-12 and became the Seventh-Round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2012 NFL draft.
Talmadge Jackson: As a mostly unheralded recruit, Jackson earned his way on the field among a talented and crowded defensive backfield in Eugene. Jackson appeared in more than 50 games as a Duck and was named First-Team All-Pac-10 as a senior in 2010. Jackson was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011.
They were wrong
Mark Asper: He originally signed with the Ducks in 2004 before fulfilling a mission for the Mormon church. He became a part of the class of 2007 and became a valuable member of the Ducks offensive front. Asper was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the sixth-round in of the NFL Draft in 2012.
In addition to being one of Oregon's highest rated classes, it was also a class that could have been so much better in several ways. Most notably, four-star safety Todd Doxey tragically passed away in the offseason after a standout redshirt season on the scout team.
Four defensive linemen either transferred or never even made it into school in Eugene. Simi Fili and Myles Wade were both U.S. Army All-Americans and signed with the Ducks as the future of the Oregon defensive line. Both players failed to qualify.
Terrance Pritchett came out of Sacramento powerhouse, Grant High School as the one of the most highly ranked high school linebackers in the country. In two seasons in Eugene, Pritchett never caught on and wound up leaving the program.
Tonio Celotto: Another defensive lineman that had a lot of promise and showed his skills in 24 career appearances before leaving the program after his sophomore season.
Rishard Matthews committed to Oregon out of high school but failed to qualify and went the junior college route before transferring to Nevada, where he became a star for the Wolfpack.
Daniel Padilla spent two seasons in Eugene after coming in as one of the top rated kickers in the country. Padilla left the program after his redshirt freshman year.
Dominic Glover was a solid prospect out of Orange County powerhouse Mission Viejo High School. After a a redshirt year and an injury plagued season in Eugene, Glover left the program. He later wound up in Corvallis as a member of the Oregon State program.
Charles Neal spent one injury-plagued redshirt season in Eugene before transferring out of the program.
Aaron Pflugrad: The son of former Oregon's Wide Receiver Coach, Robin Pflugrad came in and surprised many as he was forced into action as a freshman due to injuries. As a sophomore he saw his role increase as a possession receiver in the Ducks offense. After his father was let go as a coach, Pflugrad transferred to Arizona State and finished a solid career in 2011.
The 2007 class looks a lot different now than it did when the players signed with Oregon, but there is no arguing the success they had. The players who stuck around were a part of an incredible run that included the Ducks reaching their first Rose Bowl in 16 years. The following year the Ducks fell to Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game.
In spite of how it ended, the Class of 2007 will forever be known as one of the most important in Oregon football history.