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Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Ducks look to gain recruiting momentum

By Brandon P. Oliver

It was quite a week for the Oregon Ducks. They earned a huge Fiesta Bowl win, saw several of their top targets commit elsewhere and -- maybe you heard -- nearly lost their head coach to the NFL for the second year in a row.

Cameron Hunt
Cameron Hunt is still committed to Cal but will be visiting Oregon on Jan. 18.
After a wild week of ups and downs, things are back on track as Chip Kelly decided on Sunday night to return to Eugene in 2013. Despite the distractions, recruiting rolls on despite missing on some key targets. TE Thomas Duarte (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) and WR John Ross (Long Beach, Calif./Jordan) were the only two the Ducks had a real shot at, so missing on them -- in addition to S Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood), WR James Quick (Louisville, Ky/Trinity) and LB Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood)-- threw a wrench in Oregon's recruiting efforts.

So where do the Ducks go from here?

The needle could flip in the opposite direction soon, however. ESPN 300 DE Austin Hooper (Concord, Calif./De La Salle) -- the Ducks are also eying him as a possible TE -- will make his long-awaited visit to Eugene this weekend. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound four-star has visited Washington, Cal and Stanford up to this point and could visit Oregon State in two weeks. At last week's Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, Hooper made it clear he has not committed anywhere yet because he wants to visit Oregon before making a decision. The Huskies, Bears and Cardinal all feel good about their chances, but if his visit to Eugene is everything he thinks it will be, the No. 263 player in the ESPN 300 could be the Ducks' next commit.

A commitment from Hooper would be big for a number of reasons. Most importantly, a pledge from a recruit of his caliber could kick-start the Ducks' efforts to end the 2013 recruiting cycle with a bang. Why? Because the Ducks are also set to host four-star LB Zach Cunningham (Pinson, Ala./Pinson Valley) and current Cal OL commit Cameron Hunt (Corona, Calif./Centennial) on the weekend of Jan. 18.

Cunningham has Auburn, Oregon, Tennessee and Vanderbilt as his finalists. According to his high school coach, the fast-rising outside linebacker will likely choose between the Ducks and Tigers. Hunt remains committed to the Bears despite the coaching change but has opened things up a bit. Michigan will host the Under Armour All-American this weekend before the Ducks get their chance the following weekend. Hunt is scheduled to be on Cal's campus on the weekend of Jan. 25.

And a new name has emerged as a possible offensive line target as Texas Tech OL commit Maurice Porter (Fort Bend, Texas/Marshall) is expected to be on campus in Eugene on the weekend of Jan. 25.

Other names will pop up as potential visitors between now and signing day, but the Ducks have already set up an official visit with four-star UCLA LB commit Myles Jack (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) for the weekend of Feb. 2.

Oregon WR commit Darren Carrington (San Diego, Calif./Horizon) seems to be the only current commit who took any issue with Chip Kelly's flirtation with the NFL. The four-star Semper Fidelis All-American, who wore Oregon gear throughout the week, informed DuckNation via text message that he honestly didn't know how he felt about the situation and that "confused" would be the best word to describe his state of mind.