How Chip Kelly recruits for his offense
August, 22, 2012
By Brandon P. Oliver | ESPN.com
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesOregon coach Chip Kelly is not really concerned where talents like De'Anthony Thomas played in high school. If they are athletic, he'll figure out a way to utilize them properly.Some of the top college football programs are defined by one thing. For Alabama, it's defense. For the Oregon Ducks, it's speed.
Under Chip Kelly the Ducks have changed the way the game is played. They look fast, they practice fast and they play faster.
The Ducks' roster is full of speed at every position. The biggest reason is that Kelly lives by the philosophy that you can't teach speed, but you can recruit it. You can certainly mess around with it, too. Finding a way to get his best athletes on the field is one of Kelly's biggest strengths.
When it comes to recruiting, Kelly lives by the same philosophy. Like everything else about the Ducks, their recruiting approach is unique.
When looking to fill out their recruiting classes, the Ducks look for athletes first. A quick look at the current roster reveals numerous examples of this.
Wide receiver Josh Huff played quarterback and running back in high school. Sophomore phenom De'Anthony Thomas played running back and safety at Crenshaw High in Los Angeles. Kenjon Barner started his Oregon career at cornerback before switching to running back. Former Ducks player Jeff Maehl was a safety before injuries forced him to move to wide receiver as a freshman. The Ducks want athletes who can play multiple positions. If a player is good enough, he will be on the field in some way, shape or form.
In last year's recruiting class, the Ducks landed a Thomas-type player when Bralon Addison signed with the Ducks. Addison played quarterback for his team high school team last year.
Now Addison seems primed for a breakout season as a freshman after drawing praise throughout fall camp for his game-breaking ability at receiver and as a returner. It extends beyond the skill positions, as well.
The offensive line presents one of the biggest challenges for the Ducks, as not every lineman wants to play in the zone-heavy, hurry-up scheme that Kelly runs. The Ducks look for athletic big men that can move around the line and get up to the second level.
Sophomore center Hroniss Grasu played only three years of football before getting to Oregon. He focused on soccer and basketball growing up. His athleticism and versatility are exactly what the Ducks look for. Sophomore Jake Fisher, who played tight end in high school, earned significant playing time on the offensive line as a freshman in 2011. Fisher appears to have a leg up for a starting spot on the line in 2012.
The Ducks want their best athletes on the field and will make it happen through position changes at a moment's notice.
Dion Jordan was recruited as a wide receiver for the Ducks before switching to tight end as a freshman. His versatility and the Ducks' desire for an athletic pass rusher led Jordan to the defensive end position. After a first-team All-Pac-12 season a year ago, Jordan seems destined to be a high NFL draft pick in 2013.
Christian French signed with Oregon over schools like Notre Dame because the Ducks wanted him on the offensive side of the ball. This spring, French made the switch to defensive end and is now the heir apparent to Jordan as the athletic "drop end." It is much of the same when looking at this year's crop of recruits.
Athlete Chris Seisay (American Canyon, Calif./American Canyon) is already committed to the Ducks for 2013. At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, Seisay plays wide receiver and cornerback in high school but will head to Oregon as a safety.
Two of the Ducks top remaining targets for 2013 are twin brothers Tyrell Robinson and Tyree Robinson (San Diego/Lincoln). The twins could play a number of positions in college. Wide receiver, safety and linebacker seem like the final destinations, but either could grow into a tight end or even a defensive end as they mature.