Photo by Kirby Lee / USA Today

Looking Back: 2015

June 12, 2018

The year was 2014 and Oregon football was humming like a BMW. I mean you have Mr. Heisman in Marcus Mariota running your offense. Mark Helfrich is the seeming heir apparent to Chip Kelly at the time. Admit it, until 2015 he had done virtually no wrong.

The Ducks would pound teams all year with its high-octane offense led by MM8. The team had some real talent though. Josh Huff, DAT, Arik Armstead, Jake Fisher, Byron Marshall, Ifo. An up and down season defensively was overcome by an offensive juggernaut.

The Ducks rolled FSU in the Rose bowl, a game most Oregon fans love to talk about. Unfortunately Oregon met a buzz saw in the first-ever national championship game when Urban Meyer ran all over the Ducks and completely neutralized the Oregon offense for most of the game.

This might have been the first chink in the Helfrich armor. But the next one was a pretty significant one.

Enter the 2015 recruiting class. Any of the remaining players from this group are now likely seniors or redshirt juniors. Which means they are the leaders of your team which can be absolutely vital to your success as a program.

I have not discussed the 2014 class, which has a few remaining holdouts still on the roster. That class which ranked No. 21 nationally, and No. 4 in the Pac-12 still offers Tony Brooks-James, Justin Hollins, Mattrell McGraw and Jalen Jelks. While those four names are expected to be key contributors this season, that class was slightly above average with some hits and some misses.

Royce Freeman was the top-rated commit and earned his stripes. Arrion Springs did his time and had a strong senior year. Tyrell Crosby severely outplayed his rating (87) during his time at Oregon. Henry Mondeaux, Tanner Carew and Charles Nelson also contributed in their time at Oregon. Eight players however never finished out their Oregon careers for one reason or another. 

But onto 2015 which is really another story. And a major factor in the decision to fire Mark Helfrich later on.

Circling back, these guys all signed after watching Oregon make a title run and a 13-2 season. (No early signing period) It somehow turned out to be the No. 16 ranked class in the nation. So while ranking do provide some context, they remain flawed and an inexact science.

Mark Helfrich signed 22 players and 2 walk-ons in this class.

The headliner was 5-Star Canton Kaumatule who is no longer with the program. In fact, of the top 10 players signed, only 5 remain. (Currently)

Still Around:

RB/WR - Taj Griffin

WR - Malik Lovette

DB - Ugo Amadi

OL - Shane Lemieux

OL - Brady Aiello

OL - Calvin Throckmorton

TE - Jacob Breeland

OL - Jake Hanson

OL/DL - Drayton Carlberg

DL - Gary Baker

DE - Gus Cumberlander

Now I will give it to Steve Greatwood, he signed one hell of a group in this class. And Ugo Amadi fell into Oregon's lap in the 11th hour, which is good news for the Ducks. Several of these players will be counted on this season, but it's clear outside of the offensive line group it does lack some 'star power' if you will. Once again, not to discredit anyone still playing for Oregon, but this class lacked any real sizzle in the end beyond the offensive line group.

Didn't Stick Around

DE - Canton Kaumatule

QB - Travis Jonsen

WR - Alex Ofodile

RB - Kirk Merritt

OL - Zach Okun

LB - Fotu Leiato

DB - Jihree Stewart

DL - Rex Manu

DB - Dylan Kane

LB - Paris Bostick

I mean call it what you want but there was a lot of potential on this list that never panned out. Losing a good portion of the top half of your recruiting class is never ideal. This is another year combined with 2014 Oregon lost the only quarterback they signed with Mahalak gone from '14 and Jonsen gone from '15. 

There are at least two defensive lineman in this group which further hindered that group. 

Furthermore Oregon signed three linebackers in this class in Leiato, Bostick and Moi. Two were JUCO's and the other just got booted from the team. If you are wondering why Oregon was lacking linebackers, these are the reasons why.

For a class ranked near the top 15 in the country, this group really has not given the Ducks a lot outside of that offensive line group. While they bring the group up a notch, there's still a severe lack of additions at quarterback, receiver, linebacker and defensive back from this year.

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