- Brandon P. Oliver, Reporter, DuckNation
The Oregon Ducks haven't won many direct recruiting battles with the USC Trojans over the years, but they are making strides. Oddly enough, there aren't too many examples over the past few years that had the two West Coast power programs going toe-to-toe. The fact of the matter is, the Trojans usually have who they want locked up early on, especially during the probation period that limits them to 15 scholarships per year.
In the past few recruiting cycles, the Ducks have signed plenty of recruits that USC had extended offers to. Cliff Harris, Andre Yruretagoyena, Tyler Johnstone, Devon Blackmon, Colt Lyerla, De'Anthony Thomas, Byron Marshall and Arik Armstead are some of the big names the Ducks were able to sign in spite of the Trojans' efforts.
On the flip side, the Trojans have beaten the Ducks for dozens of prospects in recent years. There are too many to list, but a couple of the biggest names on the list are current Trojans -- and former top targets of the Ducks -- George Uko and Marqise Lee.
Like every other program in the country, the Ducks have had little success when the Trojans put the full-court press on a recruit. While the success is minimal when measured in numbers, the impact of the recruiting battles that Oregon has won is immeasurable. The Ducks have been able to do flip the top recruit in California from the Trojans in each of the last two recruiting cycles. The Ducks slid in under the cover of darkness and flipped long-time Trojans' commit De'Anthony Thomas, just before signing day in 2011. In 2012, they were able to sign Arik Armstead after he opened up his commitment, despite being a long-time USC commit.
In the Class of 2013, the Trojans are off to a blistering start as they currently hold the No. 1 spot in the ESPN Recruiting Class Rankings. Among their commits are some of Oregon's top targets in this recruiting cycle. Eddie Vanderdoes of Auburn (Calif.) Placer, Max Redfield of Mission Viejo (Calif.) High School, Michael Hutchings of Concord (Calif.) De La Salle and Steven Mitchell of Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany, were all top targets of the Ducks.
While the Trojans class is nearly full, they have been able to sidestep the 15 scholarship limit with some clever shuffling of the roster. Many of their commits gave their pledge to USC early on in the process to ensure their spot in the Trojans' class. The Trojans are likely to add a couple more commits before signing day, but could make room for more if any of their current commits decide to explore their options.
Will the Ducks be able to raid the Trojans' class for a third straight year, or will USC hang on to their top guys and finish with the No. 1 class in the nation? There are a few names that have been the subject of rumors since their commitment to the Trojans. Who might the Ducks be able to sway with a late push before signing day?
Eddie Vanderdoes of Auburn (Calif.) Placer-
Vanderdoes was always extremely high on the Ducks. His size, strength, versatility and elite athleticism make him a perfect fit in Oregon's aggressive defensive scheme. He wants to be able to rush the passer but Oregon likes him at the nose-tackle spot in their 3-4 scheme. If they continue to pursue the No. 43 player in the ESPN 150 -- and show him what his versatility would allow in their defense -- the Ducks might be able to get a visit and possibly turn the tables on USC.
Max Redfield of Mission Viejo (Calif.) High School-
Redfield always planned on visiting Oregon, along with long-time favorite USC. After deciding USC is where he was meant to be, the Ducks slowed down their pursuit of the No. 2 athlete in the country. Redfield recently enjoyed a visit to Notre Dame but seems solid with the Trojans. If the Ducks allow him to visit in spite of their rule against tripping in committed players, they could make a big push for the elite play maker. Odds are he sticks with the Trojans, but a trip to Eugene could change a lot.
Michael Hutchings of Concord (Calif.) De La Salle-
Hutchings -- the No. 54 player in the ESPN 150 -- was basically down to USC and Oregon from the get go, but ultimately chose to go with the Trojans. The Ducks are in pursuit of his De La Salle teammate -- and fellow four-star linebacker -- Victor Egu. Egu is high on the Ducks, so a commitment from him could perhaps make Hutchings think twice. Don't count on it though.
Steven Mitchell of Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany-
Mitchell was high on the Ducks and the Trojans for most of his high school career. The No. 116 player in the ESPN 150 was waiting on both schools to offer. When the Trojans did, the No. 13 wide receiver jumped at the opportunity to play for the local powerhouse. Mitchell fits the mold of an Oregon wide receiver more than that of a typical USC wideout, but it would take some work for the Ducks to pull him away.
The Trojans are loaded with 12 prospects from the ESPN 150 and five more from the ESPN 300. There is an enormous amount of talent in their class. So much, that it could force some of them to look around as signing day approaches. If any of them decide to open up their recruitment, Oregon would most likely be the program to have the best shot at reeling them in. It isn't something that can be relied on each and every year, but the Ducks have pulled off some big recruiting flips in recent years.
If anyone can do it, the Ducks are the program to get it done.