NCF On The Trail: Oregon Ducks

Best of the visits: Pac-12

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
Another weekend of Pac-12 games meant another weekend of Pac-12 visitors, as multiple conference programs hosted important official and unofficial visitors. Those recruits took to twitter to share their experiences, as Arizona State, Cal, USC and Oregon all put together significant performances -- including three home victories -- in front of recruits.

Cal hosts big weekend

The Golden Bears had a number of official visitors on hand -- including ESPN 300 wide receiver Carlos Strickland -- and almost pulled off the upset against UCLA. As always, the Cal passing game was on display, and this time it came in front of Strickland and three-star receiver Lavan Alston. Class of 2016 standout running back Sean McGrew, who holds a number of Pac-12 offers, was also on hand on an unofficial visit.

Oregon's ESPN 300 visitors

Perhaps no Pac-12 program hosted a more potent one-two punch than the Ducks, as Oregon brought in ESPN 300 teammates John Houston Jr. and Rasheem Green on official visits.

The two hold significant interest in UCLA, USC and other programs, but the Ducks picked a great weekend to bring in the talented defenders on official visits. Neither is expected to make a decision before signing day, but Oregon could be in the mix for both until the end.

Masina's second Pac-12 trip

ESPN 300 outside linebacker Osa Masina has three Pac-12 programs among his final schools, and the nation's No. 124 overall prospect was on an official visit to Arizona State this weekend. Masina went to UCLA earlier this month and will visit USC at the end of November.

Recruits see big USC win

While the Trojans didn't host any official visitors, being the only game in Los Angeles brought out some important local prospects.

ESPN 300 athlete Ykili Ross attended several USC games this season and was at the Coliseum again on Saturday.

The Trojans also received an unofficial visit from 2016 ESPN 300 safety C.J. Pollard, who picked up an offer from USC last week. Pollard is another in a long line of Gardena (Calif.) Serra standouts and his father, Marvin, is a former USC cornerback.

Pac-12's top recruiting visits 

October, 17, 2014
Oct 17
As the schedule flips to the second half of the season, recruits will witness some important games in the Pac-12 this weekend. The three biggest recruiting weekends in the conference all feature ESPN 300 prospects, as programs look to positions themselves to close their recruiting classes with marquee prospects.

1. Oregon

Pac-12 North recruiting roundup 

October, 16, 2014
Oct 16
At the halfway point of college football's regular season, there is still plenty to be decided both on the field and on the recruiting trail. The Pac-12 placed six programs among the top 40 recruiting classes in Wednesday's updated class rankings and conference recruiting classes contain as many as 24 -- Arizona -- and as few as nine -- Stanford -- verbal commitments. This update offers a look at where each Pac-12 North program stands with its 2015 recruiting class, including its top prospect and position of strength, as well as a look at where things are going well, and not so well, for each class.


Total number of commitments: 10

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Michigan commit Garrett Taylor will visit Ohio State, Penn State and Virginia Tech, but keep a close eye on the Buckeyes. Plus, LSU’s elite running back class is starting to fall apart.

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video Oregon fans were very nervous watching quarterback recruiting unfold in the Class of 2015. The Ducks ultimately secured a commitment from Travis Waller after losing out on top targets Kyler Murray, Blake Barnett, Sam Darnold and others. Ducks fans can now rest easy for the Class of 2016 with ESPN Junior 300 signal-caller Seth Green jumping on board with Oregon on Wednesday.

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The DMV (D.C./Maryland/Virginia) has developed into one of the most competitive areas in the country, so what recruiters do the best job in Washington D.C.? Plus, can Minnesota keep one of the top juniors in the country at home?

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Tim Beckman is 1-17 in Big Ten games and questions about his future has hindered the Illini's recruiting efforts. Plus, Georgia Tech has surprised both on the field and on the recruiting trial.

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Little more than a decade ago, the Oregon football program grabbed attention from across the country thanks to a number of large, and not entirely inexpensive, billboards. From Joey Harrington in New York City to Rashad Bauman in San Francisco to Maurice Morris in Los Angeles, the Ducks were looking for a way to make an impression on the impressionable -- namely, high school football recruits.

The Ducks double-dipped in Los Angeles, following up the Morris billboard one year later, in 2002, with another one that depicted three Oregon wide receivers -- Keenan Howry, Samie Parker and Jason Willis -- on the side of the Figueroa Hotel, less than three miles from the USC campus.

Fast forward 12 years and the idea of Oregon needing to rent advertising space in Southern California -- or anywhere in the country, for that matter -- to make an impact with recruits seems laughable. Instead, the Ducks found a way to become a billboard in 2006, unleashing an astounding 384 possible uniform combinations -- a number that would balloon to 512 by the end of the season. Opposing fans couldn't take them seriously. Recruits couldn't get enough. And with that, the Ducks had their hook with every prospect in the country.

"I heard about Oregon mainly because of the jerseys," said 2015 Oregon quarterback commit Travis Waller. "It's all about the jerseys and the flash, but kids these days are attracted to that. [Oregon doesn't] need to explain itself. Everyone knows who Oregon is now."

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With Brandon Wimbush switching to Notre Dame, where does Penn State turn to fill its need at quarterback? Plus, why should Washington State feel like it has a shot with an ESPN 300 prospect from Washington, D.C.?

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Help is on the way: Pac-12 

October, 8, 2014
Oct 8
Through six weeks of the 2014 season, every program has flashed at least one weakness or one position where depth is needed in a hurry. While the incoming batch of 2015 recruits won't help the prospects of the 2014 team, some will have an opportunity to make an immediate impact the following year, as they'll provide depth -- or perhaps jump into starting roles -- at positions of need. Here is a look through the Pac-12 at the biggest areas of need for each program, and the 2015 recruits on the way to provide help.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

October, 7, 2014
Oct 7
The wild weekend in the Pac-12 wasn't limited to the field, as the recruiting trail saw some significant action as well. Three impact commitments landed in the conference, while three more ESPN 300 prospects took official visits and several big wins by certain programs made an impact with recruits.

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Vols RB commit Alvin Kamara is drawing comparisons to a former four-time Pro-Bowl selection after his fast start. Plus, Michigan seemed to be in great shape for ESPN 300 DE Keisean Lucier-South, but now the Wolverines’ chances are fading quickly.

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Pac-12 coaches believe upsets by Arizona, Arizona State and Utah could also shake things up in recruiting. Mississippi Madness is in full effect, as both Ole Miss and Mississippi State receive recruiting boosts after big victories.

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Best of the visits: Pac-12

October, 5, 2014
Oct 5
Recruits were treated to a wild and entertaining weekend in the Pac-12, as five conference home games were decided by a total of 19 points, with 371 points scored. A Hail Mary connected, an NCAA passing record was set and all three ranked home teams suffered defeat. With so much action on the field, there was plenty of chatter from recruits on social media.

Ducks host midweek visitors

The Pac-12's recruiting weekend began last Wednesday, as Oregon hosted committed quarterback Travis Waller and three-star defensive end Gus Cumberland, as well as the Arizona Wildcats on Thursday night. While the game didn't go exactly as planned, the visits did, as Waller and Cumberland both very much enjoyed their time in Eugene. Cumberland, in fact, saw enough to announce his commitment to Oregon shortly after the trip.


Recruits flock to Los Angeles

With UCLA and USC both playing home games, plenty of recruits made their way to the Rose Bowl and Coliseum on Saturday. While both programs suffered last-second defeats, they provided plenty of entertainment value for those in attendance.

The Trojans hosted the No. 9-ranked player in the country, cornerback Kendall Sheffield -- who undoubtedly found plenty to fault on USC's Hail Mary defense but managed a meeting with Alex Rodriguez during the visit.

USC commit and ESPN 300 defensive tackle Jacob Daniel made the quick trip down to USC for the game.

ESPN Junior 300 wide receiver Javon McKinley, whose first offer came from Arizona State and also received a recent offer from UCLA, was at the Coliseum as well.

But fellow 2016 ESPN Junior 300 prospect Mique Juarez, who has offers from both UCLA and USC, might have summed up the game between the Sun Devils and Trojans better than anyone.

There was plenty of star power across town at UCLA's game as well. ESPN 300 defenders Keisean Lucier-South and Osa Masina were in attendance -- Masina was in town on an official visit.

Lucier-South recently announced that he moved USC back into the list of schools he is considering, but with Michigan and UCLA grabbing early leads -- and then Michigan's poor season so far -- the Bruins continue to look tough to beat in that race.

Utah's win in the Rose Bowl is likely to continue its strong recruiting momentum, and apparently almost netted the Utes a verbal from 2016 ESPN Junior 300 prospect Micah Croom.


Cougars host a huge visitor

The defensive backs in the Cal-Washington State game are likely to have nightmares this week, as the quarterbacks threw the ball all over the field on their way to 1,261 passing yards and 11 touchdowns. On the surface, it might not appear to be the best game for the Cougars to host ESPN 300 safety Marcus Lewis on an official visit, but the No. 152 overall prospect said he had a great time in Pullman.


UA jersey tour: LB John Houston

October, 1, 2014
Oct 1
Gardena (Calif.) Serra is no stranger to high-profile football recruits, but ESPN 300 linebacker John Houston isn't just another in a long line. The 6-foot-3, 207-pound linebacker stood in front of friends, family and teammates on Wednesday afternoon, as he accepted his Under Armour All-America Game jersey. It was fitting that all eyes were focused on Houston, as that's often the case whether it's in the locker room or on the football field.

"He's been a great leader," Serra head coach Scott Altenberg said of Houston. "He reminds me of Robert Woods a lot, the way Robert carried himself. He takes to it so naturally, which is a difficult thing for a kid to have pressure on you so early. He doesn't get too high or too low. He's been a joy to coach."

Houston, the nation's No. 88 overall prospect and No. 3 inside linebacker, has been a standout on the Cavaliers defense since his sophomore season. Former Serra standouts have littered the Pac-12 for years, including Woods, Marqise Lee, Paul Richardson, Jason Gibson, George Farmer, Adoree' Jackson and Dwight Williams, among others. But Houston said following in those footsteps never created pressure.

"At Serra we establish being a Cavalier," Houston said. "A Cavalier is someone who is humble, accountable and ready to work hard on and off the field. Coach Altenberg and the whole staff installed that into us, so really there is no pressure. They let you grow as a young man."

Though Houston holds offers from programs across the country, he said Oklahoma, Oregon and USC are communicating with him the most right now. He has an official visit set to Oregon for Oct. 17 and said he is working to set a date with Oklahoma. The Trojans are pushing for an official visit, but Houston said he would like to take all five trips out of the state to see as much of the country as possible. USC signed three of Houston's former teammates in the 2014 class, and the star linebacker said he's heard plenty about how they are faring in cardinal and gold.

"I hear a lot about Adoree', Olajuwon Tucker and Jalen Greene," he said. "I hear Adoree' is playing both ways and really picking up everything they're teaching him. That shows a lot about Serra High School."

While Houston won't be asked to play both ways at the next level, Altenberg envisions college success for him, a path Houston has been on since his head coach got a glimpse early in his high school career.

"He runs like a wide receiver but is physical like a backer," Altenberg said. "Oftentimes you get one or the other, but John is flying 100 miles per hour, not slowing down. That kind of thing you don't get every day -- then for him to be such a talented kid and be so coachable. If they were all like him, life would be so easy."

Five questions with John Houston

Who are you most looking forward to playing with at the Under Armour All-America Game?

My boy Roquan Smith. That's my guy. I want to say what's up to him, but I don't know if we'll be on the same team.

What is your earliest football memory?

I was probably nine or 10 and got my first touchdown. It was pretty exciting and motivated me to do better.

What football player do you look up to most?

I looked up to Ray Lewis. He is a fast, aggressive player that comes downhill and smacks people, then he does all his job assignments. And his documentary I've seen -- he's compassionate and puts God, then family, then football

If you could take on any pro player in their sport, who would it be?

I couldn't tell you. I don't think I could hang with them. Not right now.

Why do you wear your number?

Ten is my dad's number, so I wanted to wear 10 to pass it down the family. I started with 33 my freshman year, but I believe I earned it (10), because I put in so much hard work and dedication to the team. Altenberg told me I could pick 10, so I picked it.