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Friday, May 3, 2013
Mailbag: Is Mahalak experienced enough?

By Brandon P. Oliver

Spring ball has come and gone and the Oregon coaches are on the recruiting trail. There were a lot of questions this week, and these are the three we chose to run with.

Steven R. (San Francisco, Calif.): What are your thoughts on the Ducks offering a quarterback that has never started a game at the high school level? I mean, don't get me wrong, Morgan Mahalak (Kentfield, Calif./Marin Catholic) looks like a player, and Marin Catholic kids can play, but it just seems like a risky move this early in the process. Is this a legitimate concern or am I being an over-reactive fan?

DN: There is a long list of high school quarterbacks who started all four years in high school but didn't pan out. Mahalak has all the tools and would have been the starter as a junior at nearly any other school. He sat behind Cal freshman Jared Goff, who had a great spring in Berkeley as an early enrollee.

When Mark Helfrich was scouting Goff last spring, he was just as impressed with Mahalak's ability to throw the ball. As a receiver last year, Mahalak showed the versatility and athleticism that makes him an ideal prospect for the Oregon attack. He has a very high ceiling that could have him become a household name in the future.

There are tons of comparisons to Marcus Mariota due to their size, athleticism and lack of experience in high school. Mariota is a rare talent who has the mental aspect of the game down better than most four-year college starters. To compare the two is pointless, because there are a thousand variables that can alter their respective paths.

That being said, it is just a matter of seeing Mahalak on the field and watching his progression over time. The Oregon quarterback situation is in good hands, and Mahalak will only add to that. There is plenty of time for him to grow as a player and adjust to the speed of the game. It really is the ideal situation for both Mahalak and the Ducks. Now it's time to hurry up and wait.

Then again, no need to rush things when Mariota potentially could remain at Oregon for another three seasons. The odds that happens are slim, but Mahalak will have plenty of time to be groomed by the Ducks' new head coach and offensive coordinator Scott Frost.

George M. (Oregon City, Ore.): Any update on that Colorado offensive lineman that visited both Oregon and that school in Corvallis last weekend?

DuckNation: We'll assume you are talking about OL Sam Jones (Highlands Ranch, Colo./ThunderRidge), as he visited Oregon and Oregon State last week.

Jones has seven offers and has visited six of the schools unofficially. Kansas State, which holds a commitment from one of Jones' friends, is making a big push for the 6-foot-5, 280-pound lineman. He plans to visit the "Little Apple," sometime soon. Nebraska also is making a big push for his signature. The Cornhuskers have yet to offer, but he says an offer from a program with a long history of offensive line success like Nebraska would be tough to ignore.

Jones had planned to make a commitment before his senior year but now says the idea of taking official visits and making sure his decision is solid really appeals to him.

Michael W. (Redondo Beach, Calif.): Out of the running backs the Ducks have offered, who are the Ducks looking at the hardest?

DN: Racean Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford) is the Ducks' top target, but it will be an uphill battle the whole way for the Ducks to pull him from SEC country. Tony James (Gainesville, Fla./Gainseville) offers up a similar dilemma. Both are interested in Oregon, but it would be a surprise for the Ducks' to land either one.

Beyond that, the California trio of Demario Richard (Palmdale, Calif./Palmdale), Royce Freeman (Imperial, Calif./Imperial) and Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) are the three main targets from the west. Richard fits the mold of an Oregon back and has long had an eye for the Ducks.