Oregon Ducks: anthony wallace

Signing day primer: Oregon 

January, 23, 2013
1/23/13
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With national signing day exactly two weeks from today, DuckNation looks ahead to what Oregon has coming and who the Ducks still need and why.

Oregon DucksHarry How/Getty ImagesFormer Houston Aldine star Darron Thomas, whose 66 TD passes are an Oregon record, was a spark for the Ducks' offense as a two-year starter before opting to go pro at the end of last season.

The Ducks have never had the benefit of loading up on local players who grew up dreaming of playing for the them. The talent level just isn't there. The truth is, it likely never will be. The Ducks have always recruited California as well as they can be expected to. In recent years, the Ducks have done a great job of going into states such as Texas to secure commitments from some top players.

The Oregon football program is basically the exact opposite of the Texas Longhorns' program. Texas has tradition, Heisman Trophies, national championships and dozens of recruits who come knocking at their door, begging to play for one of the most iconic college football programs in history. Oregon has no national championships, no Heisman Trophies and less than a handful of in-state recruits to choose from each year.

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Carl WinstonOtto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesSan Jose, Calif., native Michael Clay was a crucial recruiting win for the Ducks over California in the Class of 2009.
After the Ducks program began to take off in the mid-1990s, California hired former Ducks' offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford in 2002. As the Ducks' upward climb reached a standstill, Cal stepped up and looked like it might be the next in line to challenge USC.

The Golden Bears did win four of five games with the Ducks between 2004 and 2008, including a game for the ages in 2007. After they walked out of Autzen Stadium with a 31-24 win over the No. 5 Ducks, things began to change between the two schools. Cal did win the following season in Berkeley, as the Ducks fumbled gave away a game they dominated. Starting in the class of 2008, the Bears responded by going on an unprecedented run of recruiting success. The Ducks began to dominate the series on the field with a 42-3 win over the Bears in 2009. Despite the dominant performance over the then-No. 6 Bears, Cal beat the Ducks head-to-head for a number of elite recruits from 2008 to 2012.

Whether it was location, academics, Cal's plans for facilities upgrades -- which are now complete -- or former Cal assistant -- and current Washington assistant -- Tosh Lupoi, the Bears won the majority of the recruiting battles between the two schools. Similar to the recent history with USC, the Ducks don't care about recruiting rankings as much as they do the on-field results.

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LaMichael JamesMark J. Rebilas/US PresswireLaMichael James was overlooked when Oregon recruited him out of Texas in 2008. He ended up his career as the Ducks' leading rusher.
As Oregon has become a national name over the past decade, its recruiting reach has expanded to never before seen levels.

The Ducks will always have California as their most fertile recruiting ground and the place from which the foundation of the program is built. But as the Ducks have become a more recognizable brand in recent years, they have been able to attract the attention of recruits from far and wide.

Here is a look at what the Ducks have been able to accomplish over the past decade when recruiting the Central and Eastern time zones. There have been some major hits, some hidden gems and also some big disappointments.

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Michael ClayMark J. Rebilas/US PresswireSenior Michael Clay is the unquestioned leader of Oregon's linebacker corps after registering 102 tackles as a junior in 2011.
The Oregon Ducks have been steadily improving their talent level at every position, but the biggest jump in talent level might lie at the linebacker position.

While there have been a few Ducks linebackers who have gone on to the NFL, they have been few and far between historically. That’s started to change recently, as the program has seen a significant rise in talent level, sending Casey Matthews, Spencer Paysinger and Josh Kaddu on to the NFL in the past two years.

This year's crop of linebackers may be among the strongest groups yet, as the Ducks return three upperclassmen that could all challenge for all-league accolades. There is plenty of young talent waiting in the wings and this season should provide those players plenty of opportunity to get more game experience.

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2012 Rose BowlKelvin Kuo/US PresswireDe'Anthony Thomas fulfilled his five-star hype, and then some, as a freshman in 2011 and could be a Heisman Trophy candidate this season.
Oregon Ducks fans have been witness to one of the greatest rises in college football history over the past two decades. The Ducks have risen from cellar dwellers to one of the hottest names in all of college football. The facilities, the uniforms and the Nike connection have all played a big role in the Ducks' rise to the top of the Pac-12.

Along with the success and the increased exposure nationally has come a major boost in recruiting elite athletes to come to Eugene. It isn't always the high school All-Americans that turn into college stars. Oregon has made a living finding "diamonds in the rough" that have helped build a powerhouse.

There have been some big names in the recruiting world who chose to play their college ball in Eugene, but how many of them have lived up to the hype?

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After being mostly dominated up front by the likes of Auburn and LSU in the past two years, the Oregon coaching staff seems to have made a slight shift in their approach to the game. The smaller, yet fast and powerful Ducks have been built to win the Pac-12, and that has proven to be fruitful in recent years.

However, when faced with the task of matching up against SEC powerhouses in big games, the Ducks were faced with lining up against teams that could match their speed while holding a size advantage up front. While the Ducks held up for the most part, they were unable to play their normal game. Head coach Chip Kelly took notice and has changed his philosophy ever so slightly.

The Ducks still want to play fast and still want to be the most fit team on the field every time they step on the field, but Kelly hasn't been shy about admitting the disadvantage his teams were faced with. The often brash head coach did something a lot of high-profile coaches wouldn't do. He admitted that his system might not always work against the mighty SEC without the proper personnel.

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