Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Oregon recruiting: Quick hitters
By Brandon P. Oliver
Quarterback Manny Wilkins has drawn attention from Oregon recently.
The offseason camp and combine circuit is well underway and one of the elite 7-on-7 tournaments in the West has already come and gone. New names are beginning to emerge, while college coaches and fans are becoming more familiar with some of the big names in the Class of 2014.
For the Oregon Ducks, their continued success looks to be paying dividends as many of the nation's top players -- including dozens of ESPN Watch List members -- have the Ducks listed among their early favorites.
With their latest scholarship offer being issued to an elite recruit from one of the nation's top high school programs, it has become evident that the Ducks are no longer a trendy program. They are here to stay.
After releasing his highlight tape six weeks ago, DB Mattrell McGraw (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) has become one of the nation's hottest recruits. Before he released his film, the 6-foot, 190-pound McGraw had no offers. Six weeks later he has 24 of them. The latest offer came from Oregon, a program he has considered a "dream" school since he first strapped on the pads.
"It was an amazing feeling to get an offer from Coach [John] Neal," McGraw said. "Oregon is a program I have always loved and I am blessed to have an opportunity to attend college there if I choose to."
McGraw plans to visit Oregon unofficially over the summer and said his mother will join him on the trip.
One of the Ducks' top targets at quarterback in the Class of 2014 put on a show at the NLA 7-on-7 Tournament in Las Vegas over the weekend. QB Manny Wilkins (Novato, Calif./San Marin) -- who received his first offer on Tuesday, from Arizona -- won the MVP award at Oregon's camp last summer and has been in constant contact with the Ducks since then. Wilkins had never practiced or played with his teammates -- made up mostly of Fresno (Calif.) athletes -- including ESPN Watch List member Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central East) . Wilkins was able to adjust to new receivers and showed off his diverse skill set all weekend long. Wilkins choosing to team up with the Fresno-based 7-on-7 team could be a blessing in disguise for the Ducks, who are among the top schools for both Quick and Wilkins.
Like Wilkins, Quick has yet to be offered by the Ducks, but offensive coordinator Scott Frost has been in constant contact with Quick and the two have developed a strong relationship. An offseason of competing together and building chemistry could lead to the two considering the option of playing their college ball together. By no means will it become a package deal, but it is something to keep an eye on.
A number of other Oregon targets were on hand and showed why the Ducks are tracking them so early in the process. CB Naijiel Hale (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) was one of the top defenders at the event. He has yet to receive an offer from the Ducks, but should the Ducks decide to offer, they would immediately become one of his top three schools. ATH Tyler Whiley (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) was also impressive and, like McGraw and Hale, the versatile 6-foot, 190-pound athlete plans to visit Oregon sometime before the start of his senior season.
As one of the nation's elite wide receivers and as a member of the ESPN Watch List, WR Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) maintains that Ohio State and Clemson remain at the top for his services. With dozens of offers, the 6-foot, 200-pound Kitt decided to narrow his list to 15 schools in which he would remain in contact with. The Ducks made the cut along with Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas, UCLA, USC and West Virginia.
Kitt isn't the only ESPN Watch List member from the Southeast that has Oregon on his mind. LB Kain Daub (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) also has two high-profile programs as his leaders. Alabama and Florida State are the top two for the 6-foot-2, 245-pound standout, but he has been in touch with Ducks' LB coach Don Pellum in an effort to learn more about the program.