- Brandon P. Oliver, Reporter, DuckNation
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. The facilities, the uniforms and the Nike connection have all played a big role in the Ducks' 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.
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 ninth installment of a 10-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.
Both Lache Seastrunk and Curtis White were US Army All-Americans and five-star recruits. Seastrunk never caught on in the crowded backfield and transferred to Baylor. Left behind was the NCAA investigation into Oregon’s recruitment of the Texas running back. White could never stay healthy and wound up walking away from the program after last season.
Dontae Williams and Nick Rowland are no longer with the program. Williams was another touted Texas running back who transferred out of the program after one year. Rowland was an elite offensive line recruit who was forced to quit football due to an old leg injury.
So far so good
Josh Huff: Huff has been a bit of an enigma in his first two years as a Duck. He has shown a wide array of skills and his versatility has been utilized in the wide-open offense. He has had problems with injuries, dropping passes and had a couple off-the-field issues. Overall, Huff has been a good player for the Ducks and could turn into a star in 2012.
Ricky Heimuli: As a top-10 defensive tackle out of high school, Heimuli had huge expectations placed upon him as the first big-time defensive tackle prospect to sign and enroll in school in a few years. He has battled injuries in his first two years but has steadily shown improvement and should play a big role in 2012.
Erick Dargan: Dargan has yet to make a big impact but appeared in nine games in 2011. He will be in the rotation at safety this season as he is competing for the spot vacated by Eddie Pleasant.
To Be Determined
Dior Mathis: Mathis appeared in five games in 2011 and should play a major role on special teams in 2012 as he tries to find a spot in the cornerback rotation.
Terrance Mitchell: Thrown into the fire as a redshirt freshman in 2011, Mitchell took some lumps but he led the Ducks with 10 pass breakups. Mitchell is a tough and physical corner that plays with fire and brings an attitude to the Oregon defense. Mitchell had a couple memorable plays, including stripping the deciding fumble away from a Wisconsin receiver in the waning moments of the Rose Bowl.
Troy Hill: Like Mitchell, Hill saw the field early and often in 2011 and steadily improved as the season went on. He had nine tackles in the Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin and plays with physicality. Hill is battling for the starting job opposite of Mitchell this fall.
Hroniss Grasu: Grasu was a big surprise as a redshirt freshman last season after winning the battle for the starting center spot. He should make a push for all-league and all-American honors in 2012 after being named a nominee for the Rimington Award, which honors the nation's top center.
Bryan Bennett: Grasu's high school teammate was the backup quarterback last year and started at Colorado for the injured Darron Thomas. He is locked in a battle with Marcus Mariota to be the Ducks' starter in 2012.
Isaac Remington, Derrick Malone, Tony Washington and Keanon Lowe: All three defensive players saw significant time in 2011 with Remington and Washington helping to solidify the defensive line and Malone being a reserve at linebacker. Lowe saw some limited action at wide receiver and helped provide speed and depth to the special teams units. All four players should see an increase in playing time in 2012
Better than advertised
Eric Dungy: Coming out of powerhouse Plant High in Tampa, Fla, Dungy wasn't highly recruited but has steadily improved his game and looks primed to make an impact in 2012. Has great hands and a great knowledge of the game. Earned rave reviews in the off-season after showing marked improvement throughout the spring.
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.