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Thursday, February 14, 2013
Oregon recruiting: Quick hitters

By Brandon P. Oliver

Oregon is done with the 2013 class and is in early pursuit of the Class of 2014. Like they did under Chip Kelly, the Ducks are going to take their time and do their due diligence in evaluating recruits with Mark Helfrich at the helm.

The Ducks will still make the same in-depth inquiries about recruits with the potential to earn an offer, but it appears the 2013 recruiting cycle taught them once and for all, that waiting until it's too late can cost a program in a big way. A number of recruits have the Ducks near the top of their lists, and with 2014 being an important class, expect them to be more aggressive than usual in their attempt to replace players they could lose after 2013.

Oregon has been in touch with a number of local recruits and have reached out to many of the top players nationally. One of the first skill-position players offered by Helfrich was RB Christian McCaffrey (Highlands Ranch, Colo./Valor Christian). McCaffrey is a dynamic athlete with early interest from programs nationwide. The defending Pac-12 champion Stanford Cardinal might have the upper hand as McCaffrey's father, Ed, starred in Palo Alto before a long NFL career.

Malik McDowell
Malik McDowell is one of several ESPN Watch List defensive ends who has been offered a scholarship by the Ducks.
Defensive line is an big area of need in the class of 2014 as the Ducks will lose starters Taylor Hart, Ricky Heimuli and Wade Keliikipi after the 2013 season.

The Ducks had already offered ESPN Watch List DE Malik McDowell (Detroit/Loyola) and recently extended offers to Watch List defensive ends Bryson Allen-Williams (Hinesville, Ga/) and Nifae Lealao (Sacramento/Capital Christian). Allen-Williams and Lealao have the best programs in the country after them and Oregon joined the race for both when they offered.

With nearly 30 offers to date, Allen-Williams is among the top defensive threats in the country. With Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, USC and many more in pursuit of the 6-foot-2, 215-pound pass-rusher, the Ducks would have to consider it a win if he visits Eugene.

The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Lealao is more likely keep the Ducks on his list until the very end. Adding Lealao to the roster would be a huge addition considering the impending losses on defensive line.

OL Tyrell Crosby (Henderson, Nev./Green Valley) has Oregon on his mind after receiving an offer from the Ducks. It was his first offer from a power program and that could be among the deciding factors next February. Like it is with any other recruit, being the first big offer gives a program a head start and the advantage of earning the respect and loyalty from a recruit, his coaches and his family. When offering a recruit from across the country, that can be a major factor in the end. Crosby also holds offers from San Diego State, UNLV and Utah.

OL Jordan Sims (Homewood, Ala./Homewood) received an offer from the Ducks last week. With early offers from Florida State, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt already in place, Sims is likely to see a major increase in interest throughout the SEC in the coming months.

Bishard Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) has a dozen offers after one came in from the Ducks last week. Baker has offers from nine Pac-12 programs, Boise State, Notre Dame and Purdue. Baker is the perfect fit for Oregon on either side of the ball, and he knows it. He may not wind up in Eugene, but Baker has a lot of interest in the Ducks and landing the best weapon in the Northwest would be a great get for Helfrich.

LB Dwight Williams (Gardena, Calif./Serra) has received offers from Cal, Ole Miss, Washington, Nebraska and others in recent weeks but still has no offer from the Ducks.

"They have a new coach, but I think Oregon is a great program. They will still be great without Coach Kelly because of the staff that is still there," Williams said. "Of course, I want an offer from Oregon. I mean, who doesn't that? It's Oregon, man. That would be huge and if it does come, the sooner the better because it would only make a bigger impact on me."