Oregon Ducks: Jalen Brown

Over the past few weeks we examined the Ducks, position-by-position, evaluating the talent. But since I was in Eugene last week for the NCAA Track & Field Championships, I figured I'd stop by the football offices to check in with one of the guys who knows that information best, offensive coordinator Scott Frost. Wednesday, we went through quarterback and running back highlights. Today, we're on to wide receiver, tight end and the offensive line.

WIDE RECEIVER
  • On Devon Allen: He was actually a late offer for the Ducks who was offered after Chip Kelly left for the NFL. There were a few spots open (initially there had only been one spot for a receiver). "It all kind of worked out that we offered him, and this is where he wanted to be. I knew he could be fast. I had no idea he could go 13.1 in the high hurdles."
  • Frost actually was at Allen's race last Saturday when Allen won the 110-meter hurdle national title. Frost said that he doesn't think Allen "looks like he'd be a track guy, he's built more like a football guy, he's thick."
  • On his mindset on the receivers: "We felt good about receiver even losing the guys we did, with Bralon [Addison] back and some young guys we think are really talented. We're just going to have to have some of those young guys step up quicker than they would've had to otherwise."
  • The first receiver that Frost brought up after Allen was redshirt freshman Darren Carrington. "He has to grow up quick, but he has it in him to be that guy." The next three receivers he mentioned were redshirt sophomore Dwayne Stanford, redshirt sophomore Chance Allen and early enrollee Jalen Brown. Frost said that he thought Brown was "in over his head a bit" from a conditioning standpoint this spring, which limited his reps, but he's up to speed now, and Frost could see him being a contributor in the fall. So it sounds like after Keanon Lowe and D. Allen, there's certainly a pecking order of things, but the competition is still very much open.
  • It's the youngest crop of receivers Frost has ever had, so I was curious if there were any way he could speed up the learning curve or provide a catalyst (other than just more and more live reps). "Sometimes there's just no replacing experience. But all those guys are competitors. … They're going to get their shots early. You see it all the time in sports, when people get their opportunities some of them reach out and take it with both hands and others struggle a little bit. We're just hoping we have a bunch of guys where the former happens."
  • Frost said something interesting about indicators regarding whether a young guy can play early -- it's typically more based on mental and emotional maturity than talent.
TIGHT ENDS
  • Look for these guys, like the running backs, to be more involved in the pass game. "We have three, which is more than we've had going into a year that I can remember. … We have three guys that we trust to go out there and do it, and there's probably going to be times that a couple of them -- if they're playing well -- deserve to be on the field, and we can play with two tight ends."
  • Pharaoh Brown's injury isn't going to limit him through the fall. Frost said it's just a matter of keeping him healthy through the season. "He's really talented."
  • Frost called John Mundt’s freshman year a "roller coaster" but said that when he was on, "he did some exceptional things."
  • Frost thought Mundt and Evan Baylis' biggest areas of growth over the past year has just been confidence. No surprise there.
OFFENSIVE LINE
  • I asked Frost about senior Hroniss Grasu taking the blame (for the line as a whole) for the losses last season. Grasu had said in the spring that he thought the group lacked toughness and got outmuscled in those games, and that's why the Ducks lost. "I wouldn't necessarily agree with that. I think we had two losses against teams that played really good games against us." Frost though the turnovers were a bigger problem in the Stanford and Arizona games. "If you play a team that does things right and you give them the ball that many times, that's a recipe for losing."
  • He wasn't surprised that Grasu said that, because he's that kind of a guy. He said it speaks to Grasu's leadership that he's willing to shoulder that kind of blame.
  • The line returns all five starters and considering the weight gain, the general consensus with everyone is that the Ducks should be just fine. But, I wanted to make sure to ask about a few backups who were getting significant reps during the spring season. Frost's thoughts: Redshirt junior Andre Yruretagoyena had his best spring season yet. He said the staff has high hopes for redshirt freshman Jake Pisarcik. He was impressed with redshirt junior walk-on Matt Pierson at right tackle.

Midyear signings: Oregon

December, 18, 2013
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According to ESPN's Erik McKinney, the following players have signed with Oregon:

Jalen Brown WR Phoenix/Mountain Pointe
HT: 6-2 WT: 185
Positional Rank: No. 43 WR
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#293)

Tui Talia DE Pleasant Hill, Calif./Diablo Valley
HT: 6-4 WT: 265
Positional Rank: No. 1 DE Juco
Stars: 4
ESPN JC50 (#12)

Haniteli Lousi OG Fremont, Calif./College of San Mateo
HT: 6-5 WT: 295
Positional Rank: No. 4 OG Juco
Stars: 3

Dominique Harrison CB Tracy, Calif./Contra Costa College
HT: 5-10 WT: 160
Positional Rank: No. 12 CB Juco
Stars: 3


It has been a wild week of recruiting in the Pac-12, with ups and downs for over half the programs in the conference. There have been six commitments and four decommitments since Monday afternoon, with one prospect decommitting and committing to the same school. And with this kind of momentum generated early in the week, there's a good chance it could continue through Sunday, with several programs hosting big recruiting weekends.

Washington and Cal post up and down weeks

Pac-12 ESPN 300 analysis 

October, 29, 2013
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The newest version of the ESPN 300 was good to a number of Pac-12 targets, as a majority of recruits heading to conference programs saw a bump in their ranking. Cornerback Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) is still top dog in the West and the region's lone five-star prospect, but both Oregon and Cal added to their ESPN 300 haul with new entrants and a tailback committed to the Ducks saw a meteoric rise.

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It has been well documented over the past few years that programs have little choice when it comes to some aspects of the college football recruiting process.

Whether it is extending offers to juniors, sophomores, freshmen and eighth-graders, or the first 100-piece bundle of mail that chokes a prospect's mailbox, coaches across the country have rushed to catch up and join the race.

[+] EnlargeDavid Shaw
Ron Chenoy/US PresswireCoach David Shaw and Stanford have limited in-season official visits and have a "Big Visit" weekend in January for recruits.
But while the unofficial visit and recruiting mailings become more and more important to the process, the official visit remains a significant tool, and one of the few remaining recruiting tactics that can be wholly personal to a coaching staff and program.

When most recruits begin thinking about what official visits they want to take, the first thing they discuss is what big games they'll be able to attend. In the Pac-12 this season, there won't be any official visitors for two of the biggest games recruits will be watching -- when Oregon visits Stanford and USC hosts UCLA -- because the Cardinal and Trojans have decreased in-season official visits.

"For a long time, there was kind of a lore that the official visit is about getting to see a game -- a notion that has been in movies, on television, in books and magazines," said Mike Eubanks, Stanford Assistant Athletic Director and Director of Football Administration. "The official visit is about going to see a game, see what the campus is like afterward and then sitting down in the coach's office."

But as Pac-12 coaching staffs dissect exactly what they want to showcase during an official visit, several schools are continuing to focus visits around a game weekend, while others have targeted the offseason as the best time to bring in official visitors.

Oregon, Utah and Washington State have combined to host 33 official visitors this season, compared to 27 for the rest of the conference combined.

It's not surprising to see those three programs hosting visitors during the fall. Not only could weather concerns in late January put a damper on bringing a majority of recruits in then, but Oregon specifically can take advantage of its game-day atmosphere.

"They're really cool either way and encourage you to go up and see a game," said Oregon quarterback commit Morgan Mahalak (Kentfield, Calif./Marin Catholic) of the Ducks' coaches and visits. "It's a pretty fun game-day atmosphere to experience."

Mahalak said the policy has paid dividends already this season, as Oregon grabbed verbal commitments from ESPN 300 running back Tony James (Gainesville, Fla./Gainesville) and four-star receiver Jalen Brown (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe) after official visits.

"[Brown] had a great visit for the Tennessee game," Mahalak said. "I think that was huge for him to see what it'd be like to play there. You definitely leave Oregon after a visit with a better sense of the program."

Last weekend, Arizona had its first opportunity to host official visitors. The Wildcats went two-for-two with their uncommitted targets, grabbing commitments from offensive linemen Layth Friekh (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) and Levi Walton (Cape Coral, Fla./Ida Baker).

Friekh, like more than a few recruits, said taking an official visit at this stage was a priority for him.

"Since I was planning on committing early, they said to come in whenever I wanted," Friekh said of the Arizona coaches. "It was really important for me to take an official visit now because I wanted to see if the school is behind the team and if all the fans are behind the team. I didn't want to go to a school where nobody supports the team, so that was cool to see."

While Friekh said he felt he had enough time with the Arizona coaches, that seems to be the biggest worry among schools -- Arizona included -- looking to push visits into the offseason.

"You want to be able to spend the whole 48 hours with them," said Matt Dudek, Arizona's Director of On-Campus Recruiting and Player Personnel. "You don't want to be worrying about a football game and you don't want to waste it, because we believe that you'll fall in love with our coaches when you get some extended time hanging out with them. That's our No. 1 selling point."

Dudek said an official visit on a game-day weekend is "more hectic than crazy or difficult," but they will always try to get official visitors to come after the season in order to spend more time with them.

"Every kid is different and we're never going to say no if a guy wants to come on an official during the season," Dudek said. "Some want to come on a game day, and if that's your deal breaker, you come on game day. There's a little less time to hang out and ask a bunch of questions at each stop. Out of season, it's no big deal to be five or 10 minutes behind schedule, but if there is a game scheduled for 7 p.m., that's not going to change."

For USC, Dec. 13 seems to be the first big recruiting weekend -- though what happens with the coaching staff could determine the true schedule of events. In the 2013 class, USC didn't host a visitor before Dec. 7, which was the big weekend for early enrollees. But the Trojans also found out the hard way this season that having a plan for official visits and carrying it out successfully can be two different things.

Enter the somewhat strange case of ESPN 300 cornerback Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito). Early in the process, it looked as though USC had the inside track for a commitment from Pickett, and the four-star cornerback alerted all his potential choices in the spring that he would take his official visits in the first four weeks of his season, then announce his decision the following week.

UCLA, going with the growing trend in the conference, suggested that Pickett wait to take his visit after the season.

"I explained to them what I was trying to do and they said it was fine with them," Pickett said of the Bruins' coaches allowing him to take an official visit for the first game of the season. "I told [USC coach Clay Helton] during the spring that I was going to UCLA first week and that I wanted to try to set up a visit to come down after my fourth game."

That visit to USC wasn't allowed to happen. Pickett said the decision to deny him an opportunity to take an official visit during the season ultimately came from coach Lane Kiffin and was delivered through Helton, but it didn't come as much of a surprise when Pickett announced his commitment to the Bruins following that conversation and his UCLA visit.

In large part though, USC's shift over the past few years to a January-centric visit schedule has paid dividends, and it's something Stanford has found success with as well.

In the 2013 class, 13 of the Cardinal's 14 eventual signees took their official visits during the "Big Visit" weekend in January. It's a success rate that is helped both by the number of already-committed prospects in attendance, as well as a clear message from the beginning about the official visit policy.

"By the time we get far enough into the process and building relationships, if somebody has this interest in Stanford and we're still with them because they've met all the academic challenges we've given them, then the recruit who has met us that far along in the journey tends to have the perspective and values that wants their official visit to be the same thing we want their official visit to be," Eubanks said.

That includes having the Big Visit begin on a Friday morning in the offseason, which allows Stanford to give its visitors an extensive look at a full day on campus during the school year -- something that is virtually impossible to do with an in-season visit, as recruits either have school or football responsibility on Friday and often can't arrive on campus until Saturday.

"To have somebody come here and not see a class is really shortchanging a good look at what Stanford should be," Eubanks said. "If it's just Saturday and Sunday, you've not done anything to address the academic question, which is maybe one of the biggest questions in the mind of these young scholar-athletes. That's pretty important for us."

While prospects will almost always hold the cards when it comes to their recruitment, it's easy to notice a fairly sizeable shift in the visit schedules for Pac-12 programs. While schools such as Oregon, Utah and Washington -- among others -- will almost always look to take advantage of nationally-recognized game-day atmospheres, Eubanks was careful to point out that it's important to note the decision to move away from in-season visits -- for Stanford and the other conference schools -- can't be seen as hiding from that experience.

"Especially as a national recruiter, going up against these giant stadiums with highly-regarded game day atmospheres, you don't want to make it look like you're hiding," Eubanks said. "If you argue against the importance of the game or the game day atmosphere to a young man who thinks the most exciting experience is to be on the big stage that he's dreamed of since he was little... If at any point you are dictating how things should be done, or talking instead of listening, you can lose them. And if you do, then that's rightfully so."


Several Pac-12 programs have an opportunity to make statements on the recruiting trail this weekend, headlined by Arizona State hosting Washington, and including USC's trip to Notre Dame and the biggest clash in the conference -- UCLA visiting Stanford. The following day, the B2G West Coast Bowl will draw plenty of interest, as Pac-12 commits and targets are separated into two teams for the late January all-star game.

Manny being Manny

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WR Jalen Brown goes green and yellow

October, 14, 2013
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Four-star wide receiver Jalen Brown (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe) did a good job of keeping his recruitment quiet throughout the process, but the 6-foot-2, 185-pound athlete spoke loudly on Monday evening, as he announced his commitment with a resounding, "QUACK QUACK," on his twitter account.



Brown, the No. 1 wide receiver in Arizona and the No. 7 overall player in the state, is a big addition for the Ducks, as he was a target for a number of programs, including Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington and Wisconsin. Brown took official visits to see the Badgers, Beavers, Commodores and Ducks before announcing his decision.

Early in the process, it looked as though Brown was leaning toward the pro-style offensive systems of Vanderbilt and Oregon State, which highlight specific receivers and allowed the top two pass catchers in those offense to put up impressive numbers last year. But Brown raved about his visit to Oregon, which might have begun as an excuse to check out the Ducks' football facilities and watch a game in Autzen Stadium but ultimately allowed head coach Mark Helfrich and his staff to make a big impression on the receiver.

While Arizona looked to make a late charge for Brown, his commitment to Oregon pokes another hole in the fence the Wildcats and Sun Devils were hoping to put around the state. As the region seemingly produces more and more high-quality recruits each year, programs from across the country continue to export them. Seven of the top 10 recruits in the state of Arizona now have made their commitments, and only two of those seven will stay home.

Oregon also continues to flex its muscle in the Grand Canyon State, as Brown joins defensive tackle Jalen Jelks (Phoenix/Desert Vista) as Oregon commitments in the 2014 class. The Ducks signed wide receiver Devon Allen (Phoenix/Brophy Prep) in the 2013 class, Reggie Daniels (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) in 2012 and the trio of Andre Yruretagoyena (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral), Tyler Johnstone (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) and Sam Kamp (Mesa, Ariz./Mountain View) in the 2011 class.

Brown is commitment No. 10 for Oregon and the fourth four-star commitment in this class. He is also the first wide receiver commitment for the Ducks in this class.

Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

October, 9, 2013
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Each Wednesday, ESPN RecruitingNation updates its national class rankings. For an in-depth look at the Big Ten, check out our conference rankings:

1. Arizona, 24 commits: The Wildcats check in at No. 23 in the RecruitingNation class rankings with a class that includes four ESPN300 commitments, including No. 120 overall Marquis Ware and No. 185 Jamardre Cobb of Salesian High in Los Angeles. Arizona will take its shot with No. 17 overall Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy), and teammate Dae'Juan Funderburk (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy) in December.


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Pac-12 2014 recruiting scenarios 

October, 8, 2013
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This week's list offers a look through the Pac-12 at the potential best-case and worst-case scenarios that the 2014 recruiting cycle could bring for various programs. While a few of the best-case scenarios might be close to within reach for some programs, many of the worst-case scenarios would take a special brand of bad luck.

Arizona
Best-case scenario: Arizona doesn't hold onto all of its 24 verbal commits, but keeps all of its priority recruits in the fold. In exchange for some of the decommitments, the Wildcats are rewarded with a big splash from either ESPN 300 prospect John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) or Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure). A strong finish to the season also helps Arizona clean up in its home state, landing commitments from offensive linemen Natrell Curtis (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe), Andrew Mike (Tucson, Ariz./Sabino), Layth Friekh (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) and junior college defensive lineman Claudeson Pelon (Mesa, Ariz./Mesa College).

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Two Arizona showdowns, two impressive visitors to the Pacific Northwest and recent recruiting attention for two standout juniors highlight this week's top storylines in the Pac-12 conference.


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Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

September, 25, 2013
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It was a relatively quiet recruiting week in the Pac-12, which seemed to mirror the rest of the country. There was no movement in the newly released team recruiting rankings. The Pac-12 held steady with three teams listed, led by Arizona and Stanford -- at No. 23 and 24 respectively -- followed by Arizona State, at No. 35. The conference did land two commitments, as Arizona State and Washington State added recruits, while a desert showdown awaits Pac-12 fans on Friday night.


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As the regular season heats up on the field, so too does the action on the recruiting trail, as prospects are setting official visits, trimming final lists and setting their sights on February's signing day. With a number of targets still on the board for every coach in the conference, this list illustrates the biggest name still out there for each Pac-12 program.

Arizona
OT Layth Friekh (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial)
6-foot-6, 251 pounds


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Big recruiting weekend for Pac-12 

September, 13, 2013
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Outside of the December conference title tilt or a potential berth in the national championship game, no day this year will mean more to the Pac-12 as a whole than this Saturday.

All 12 programs will be on display with a slate of games that stretches from 9:00 a.m. PT to 7:30 p.m. PT.

No. 16 UCLA travels to No. 23 Nebraska, while California hosts No. 4 Ohio State and Arizona State welcomes No. 20 Wisconsin. No. 19 Washington visits Chicago for a neutral-site game against Illinois. Oregon will receive a visit from Tennessee, while Colorado can prove itself with a home game against Fresno State and USC hopes to right the ship against Boston College.

But as much as public perception of the Pac-12 will increase with a strong showing, the real prize for a number of conference programs could come on the recruiting trail.


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The Pac-12 is featured in a number of big games this weekend, and a strong result -- especially in several home games -- will have a very positive effect on the recruits in attendance. While Cal is expecting a huge crop of visitors, Oregon and Arizona State will have their share, as well. Meanwhile, it's another day and another story at USC, where a story concerning the team was overshadowed by another concerning several local recruits.

Trojans still generating wrong kind of attention

The circus atmosphere at USC was extended on Wednesday as news of a players-only meeting came to light, then was refuted, then was altered to a "get together with a few players." On the recruiting trail, Wednesday brought additional intrigue, as a tweet from four-star running back Demario Richard (Palmdale, Calif./Palmdale) caught plenty of attention. The tweet, retweeted by WeAreSC's Blair Angulo and illustrated below, led to Richard suspending his account due to the backlash he received from USC fans.



What made this tweet particularly interesting is that while that sentiment has been shared off the record by a number of recruits in the past few months, Richard was the first to state it publicly. Beyond that, a subsequent tweet from cornerback Naijiel Hale (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) seemed to add to what USC is going through on the recruiting trail at this time. Hale, who received early interest from USC before committing to Arizona, is again hearing from the Trojans after several cornerback targets committed to other schools.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

September, 9, 2013
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It was another weekend without any commitments in the Pac-12, but the conference made a statement with a 9-1 record -- the only loss coming in conference play -- and four teams scoring more than 50 points. But that one loss was a big one, as USC dropped its home opener to Washington State in front of a number of high-profile recruits. On the field, a Cal commit put on a show while two elite 2015 prospects stood out as well.

Biggest offer

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