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Oregon recruiting: Central and Eastern

8/23/2012
LaMichael James was overlooked when Oregon recruited him out of Texas in 2008. He ended up his career as the Ducks' leading rusher. Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire

As Oregon has become a national name over the past decade, its recruiting reach has expanded to never before seen levels.

The Ducks will always have California as their most fertile recruiting ground and the place from which the foundation of the program is built. But as the Ducks have become a more recognizable brand in recent years, they have been able to attract the attention of recruits from far and wide.

Here is a look at what the Ducks have been able to accomplish over the past decade when recruiting the Central and Eastern time zones. There have been some major hits, some hidden gems and also some big disappointments.

2003: One signee from the Central and Eastern time zones

*Ryan Gilliam (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln): The highly touted defensive back from the powerhouse Lincoln program was looked upon as the trendsetter when he signed with the Ducks after originally committing to Florida State. Gilliam never fit in with the Ducks and transferred to South Florida after two seasons with the Ducks.

2004: One signee

Kwame Agyeman (Itasca, Ill./Lake Park): Agyeman didn't come in as the most highly recruited player but became a multi-year starter for the Ducks at linebacker.

2005: Four signees

Jairus Byrd (Clayton, Mo./Clayton) : The Ducks were able to land a true gem when they signed the Missouri State Player of the Year and son of former NFL player Gil Byrd. Byrd got lost in the shuffle as a recruit, but made an impact at Oregon as a three-year starter and first-team all-Pac-10 member before foregoing his senior year for the NFL.

Blair Phillips (Alexandria, La./Mississippi Gulf Coast CC): Phillips spurned the local SEC schools and headed west, where he was named the team's Most Outstanding Player after leading the Ducks with 98 tackles.

*Tucker Callahan (Fairhope, Ala./Fairhope): Callahan signed with the Ducks but lasted just one redshirt year before transferring home to the University of Alabama.

*Brian Truelove (Snellville, Ga./Brookwood): Like Callahan, Truelove signed with the Ducks from the South but only lasted a year. Unlike Callahan, Truelove stayed out west and transferred to Portland State.

2006: Three signees

Remene Alston (Greensboro, NC/Page): Alston was buried behind talented running backs during his entire career, but remained with the program and played an important role as a key backup in the backfield during his career.

Jeremy Gibbs (Stillwater, Okla./NE Oklahoma A&M JC) : Gibbs spurned in-state schools Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and went on to a solid career at Oregon before heading to the CFL.

*Justin Roper (Buford, Ga./Buford) : After seeing some time as a freshman, Roper earned the starting nod in 2008 before injuries set him back. He later transferred to Montana.

2007: no signees

2008: Seven signees

LaGarrette Blount (Perry, Fla./East Mississippi JC) : Blount shunned Florida State and signed with the Ducks in 2008 before having a standout junior season. Was suspended most of 2009 before heading to the NFL.

*Zach Taylor (Austin, Texas/Blinn JC): Signed with Oregon as a long-snapper and left the program before the 2009 season.

LaMichael James (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau) : Set nearly every Oregon offensive record and skipped his senior season, as San Francisco drafted him in the second round of this spring's NFL draft. Was not the most prized recruit on paper but has become the poster boy for Oregon's recruiting efforts in Texas and beyond.

*Chris Harper (Wichita, Kan./Northwest): A huge recruiting victory for the Ducks proved to be more bark than bite. Harper wanted a shot at quarterback. He got it. It didn't work, so he switched to receiver. Harper transferred to Kansas State after one season.

Darron Thomas (Houston, Texas/Aldine): One-time LSU commit signed with Oregon over the Tigers, Florida and many more. Became a record-breaking quarterback as a two-year starter before making an ill-fated decision to leave school early. Thomas went undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Blake Cantu (Southlake, Texas./Carroll) : Another Texas product, Cantu was an Under Armour All-American and came from one of the elite programs in Texas, but his career was derailed by injuries before it could ever begin.

Garrett Embry (Roswell, Ga./Roswell) : Not a highly rated recruit, Embry was still an important recruit for the Ducks as he provided another shot at having a Georgia prospect have a successful career out West. He left the program after being suspended for the entire 2010 season.

2009: Five signees

Zac Clark (Grove City, Ohio/Butler CC(Kan.)): Had a solid career and was a starter on Oregon's 2010 BCS Championship Game squad.

Tyrece Gaines (Norcross, Ga./Butler CC(Kan.)): Gaines was the top ranked junior college receiver in the country and signed with the Ducks over Oklahoma, among others. Ruled academically ineligible before the 2010 season and left the program.

Daryle Hawkins (Omaha, Neb./Central): Switched to Oregon from Northern Iowa when Scott Frost was hired away to coach Oregon's wide receivers. Solid utility player whose role should expand at wide receiver in 2012.

Brian Jackson (Hoover, Ala./Hoover): From a powerhouse program in Alabama, Jackson was recently named the starter at Oregon's 'rover' position as he enters his junior season.

Braxton Lane (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek): Lane never made it to campus, as he was drafted in the MLB Draft and chose to play professional baseball.

2010: Eight signees

Josh Huff (Houston, Texas/Nimitz), James Scales (Greensboro, NC/Northern Guilford), Issac Dixon (Miami, Fla./Monsignor Pace), *Brandon Williams (Joilet, Ill./Joliet JC), *Lache Seastrunk (Temple, Texas/Temple), *Dontae Williams (Houston, Texas/Aldine), Eric Dungy (Tampa, Fla./Plant) and Dior Mathis Detroit, Mich./Cass Tech) all signed with the Ducks in 2010.

Highly touted running backs Seastrunk and Dontae Williams transferred to Baylor and San Diego State, respectively, after just one season in Eugene. Brandon Williams was forced into a medical retirement due to injury concerns.

Huff, Scales, Dungy, Dixon and Mathis all remain a part of the program.

2011: Six signees

Jake Fisher (Traverse City, Mich./West), Jared Ebert (Council Bluffs, Iowa/Iowa Western CC), Christian French (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Kennedy), *Tacoi Sumler (Miami, Fla./Columbus), Anthony Wallace (Dallas, Texas/Skyline) and *Tra Carson (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau) all signed with the Ducks in 2011.

Carson (Texas A&M) became the third highly touted Texas running back to sign with Oregon before transferring out after just one season. Sumler was considered a huge coup for the Ducks out of Miami. As a member of the ESPN 150 he had plenty of suitors, but the Ducks won out. Sumler transferred in in early August after failing to move up the depth chart.