- Chantel Jennings, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Ducks have closed the books on the 2014 recruiting class and are well on their way down the 2015 recruiting trail. The 2014 class finished as No. 27 in the country, marking the fifth consecutive year Oregon has inked a top-30 class.
Obviously rankings aren’t everything, and each class and individual brings something different to the Ducks. So as we continue to prepare for Oregon’s spring season, we’re going to take a walk down memory lane and count down the top five Oregon recruiting classes.
No. 1: 2008 class
20 signees | 1 ESPN 150 member
Not ranked: 5 | 70-79 ESPN grading: 12 | 80-89 ESPN grading: 3
Top signee: No. 11 ATH Chris Harper
Breaking down the barrier between good and great is difficult. That’s what the 2007 signing class started to do for the Oregon Ducks. But it was the 2008 class that really kept them there and made a statement.
During their four seasons at Oregon the 2008 signees went 44-9 and won three conference titles. As juniors they played in the national title game and as seniors they won a Rose Bowl. Those games (and specifically, members of this recruiting class) electrified fans from across the country. Because of these kinds of players, football fans on the East Coast were staying up late to catch the Ducks games on Saturdays, and younger prospects who wouldn’t have considered Eugene, Ore., as a future home suddenly began to look at the landscape of college football differently.
The 2008 class signed athlete Darron Thomas, safety John Boyett, linebacker Josh Kaddu and running backs Kenjon Barner and LaMichael James. Junior college transfer LeGarrette Blount was also a member of this class though he only had two seasons of eligibility (with one shortened by a suspension due to his physical altercation with Boise State linebacker Byron Hout).
However, this class was not ranked in ESPN.com’s top 25. Some of the best players were ones who flew under the recruiting radar but developed immensely during their time in Eugene. By the time Barner left Oregon he had rushed for more than 3,600 yards, including 1,767 as a senior. But when he was coming out of high school his only offers were Oregon, Arizona State and UTEP. Boyett was in a similar situation. He held just three offers -- Oregon, Stanford and Utah. Texas passed on James, but he chose the Ducks over schools such as Nebraska, Arkansas and Minnesota.
But this class didn’t just take underrated talent and turn it into all-conference talent. The 2008 class also saw some huge victories on the recruiting trail. Thomas was a huge get out of Texas. The signal-caller had offers from Florida, LSU and Miami among others. The 2008 class also inked junior college QB Jeremiah Masoli, who threw for more than 1,700 yards in his first year and 2,100 yards in his second year with the Ducks. (Masoli was later suspended in March 2010 and kicked off the team in June 2010.)