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Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Visitors recap Oregon spring game

By Brandon P. Oliver

With a casual 52 points and an impressive overall performance by the Oregon offense on Saturday, the Oregon Ducks showed that not much has changed in Eugene with Mark Helfrich as head coach.

Based on the reaction of some of the recruits in attendance, it appears to be more of the same on the recruiting side of things as well. While it wasn't a large group of recruits, the program made a huge impact on the kids that made it to campus. The Ducks hosted just one athlete who currently holds an Oregon offer, but five of the other recruits on hand are on the short list at their respective positions.

Mark Helfrich
New head coach Mark Helfrich and Oregon didn't seem to miss a beat at the spring game.
As the lone offer holder, offensive lineman Sam Jones (Highlands Ranch, Colo./ThunderRidge) flew into Eugene and toured the Oregon campus before heading to Corvallis for Oregon State's junior day and spring game on Friday. The 6-foot-5, 280-pound lineman returned to Eugene to take in the Ducks' spring game, and it appears that it was well worth the trip.

"I had never seen Oregon play in person, so it was really fun," Jones said. "There were like 38,000 people there. It would have been more but they had three sections closed off due to the ongoing construction around the stadium."

Regarding the construction and the never-ending facility upgrades in Eugene, Jones had a familiar response.

"It was unbelievable. I got to tour the facilities and even got to see the new football complex they are building," Jones said. "It was really just unbelievable."

Quarterback Morgan Mahalak (Kentfield, Calif./Marin Catholic) made his second trip to Eugene in as many months and was just as impressed this time around.

"I think I take the weather with me whenever I go," said Mahalak, jokingly. "The weather was great, so it made it really nice. It was more of the same from the offense. All of the quarterbacks looked good and the offense was sharp overall."

As of this weekend, Mahalak didn't hold an offer from the Ducks, but that could potentially change Tuesday when Ducks offensive coordinator Scott Frost will visit Mahalak at his school.

"We'll see how things go, but I have developed a really good relationship with the staff up there," Mahalak said. "Getting an offer from the Ducks would be a hard thing to ignore. I mean, how do you turn down an offer from a program like that?"

In-state linebacker Joey Alfieri (Portland, Ore./Jesuit) was also on hand for the game after attending Oregon State's junior day and spring game on Friday. Despite strong family ties to Oregon State, Alfieri is holding out hope that the Ducks extend an offer.

"They said that they need linebackers and I am on their short list for an offer," Alfieri said. "I got to talk to coach [Nick] Aliotti for a little while and he just explained that I should remain patient."

Alfieri was able to spend time in the Ducks' locker room before the game and was blown away by everything the Ducks have to offer and in the way they conduct themselves in general.

"I got to hang out in the locker room before the game, so that was really cool for me," Alfieri said. "I got to catch up with [Jesuit alum] Keanon Lowe and he just told me how they do things and how great it is to be a Duck."

The Ducks also hosted two more talented athletes from the West in athlete Devante Downs (Mountlake Terrace, Wash./Mountlake Terrace) and linebacker Zach Brown (San Diego/Patrick Henry). Neither hold an offer, but both have been in touch with the Oregon staff and their versatility makes them viable options for the Ducks moving forward.

Offers for the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Downs are in double digits, and he also attended the Oregon State spring game. The Ducks have been in regular contact and he remains a player to watch as an offer will likely come sooner rather than later.

Brown, at 6-foot-3 and 233 pounds, also fits the mold of an athletic big man that the Ducks seem to be targeting at linebacker. He is touch with several of schools and currently holds offers from Colorado State and San Diego State. An Oregon offer would be tough for Brown to turn down.

The bottom line is that despite a coaching change, an NCAA investigation and a roster loaded with young talent, things seem to be rolling right along for the Oregon Ducks.