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Oregon Football

Torres' Take: Latest in Oregon Football & Recruiting

November 6, 2019

Folks are still talking about the win over USC in Los Angeles. The Ducks were front and center to put on a show in front of fans, family and recruits of Southern California.

That’s going to be something Mario Cristobal and company take into account with the remaining 2020 and 2021 recruits. Until USC makes a change, if they do, Oregon will continue to push into the fertile recruiting grounds of So Cal.

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Another state has been kind to Oregon of late as well. Good old Utah has given Oregon a few gifts in the past two years. Oregon’s latest commit, a 2021 offensive lineman, is also from Utah. Could Oregon’s next commit be as well?

Here’s the latest in the week that was in Oregon football and recruiting news. 

Kingsley Suamataia

Suamataia was one of the big names this staff had circled on the visitor list for the Oct. 26 Washington State game. The 4-star 2021 offensive tackle (0.9702 on the 247Sports Composite) and top player in the state of Utah is teammates with another big name on Oregon’s wish list: 5-star Orem High linebacker Noah Sewell.

From what we’ve heard, the visit went really well, much as it did when he made his first trip to Eugene for April's Spring Game. The feeling among the staff is that Oregon solidified itself as a top choice for Suamataia, and they wouldn’t be shocked if he made the call the join the flock soon.

Two linemen already have committed for 2021: Jackson Light (see below) and Logan Sagapolu (who is expected to return from his Mormon mission in Hawaii). Mario Cristobal clearly is putting in the work to make sure this team isn’t left scrambling after the departure of four of this year’s five starters. Of course, nothing is a done deal until Suamataia commits, and he has his choice from many of the nation’s elite powers, including Alabama, Georgia, USC and Utah.

Keep an eye on ScoopDuck as well as his Twitter account (@KAhyouSuamataia) to stay up to date on Suamataia's recruitment.

Noah Sewell

We’ve seen this name so much some fans may be asking themselves: Why isn’t he a Duck already? Well, the staff feels like a commitment is imminent with the Utah 5-star (0.9904), but Penei's younger brother is looking to wrap up his official visits prior to announcing his decision.

I know Sewell will take a trip to Texas A&M. I’d wager he uses an official for his home state Utah Utes, and take at least one visit to an SEC school (he's already visited Georgia) from his most recent list of top schools (Alabama, Florida, LSU or Tennessee).

Oregon coaches like their chances against just about anyone for the nation's No. 20 player, with Georgia being viewed as the top rival. Taking into account how successful Penei has been since he stepped on campus could bode very well for Oregon.

Wide Receiver Recruiting

We know 4-star (0.9739) Gary Bryant Jr. visited and came away impressed, but was it enough?

Bryant is an L.A. recruit, and the rumblings have been all USC for quite a while now. Although Oregon has invaded Southern California in recent cycles, many of those players are hard to lure away from family and the SoCal glamour.

Bryant has USC and ASU left for his official visits, so it might be too little, too late for Oregon.

As for other options at the position, it looks like it’s down to Traeshon Holden and Jermaine Burton, both of which are committed to elite SEC programs: Alabama and LSU, respectively.

Burton (a 4-star rated as 0.9790) visited a while ago, but there hasn’t been any major buzz linking him and Oregon. With the stellar play of LSU’s receivers this year, I don’t see it likely that he waivers in his commitment.

If Holden were to flip from the Tide, you would think he might have at least decommitted by now. However, we do know that the Ducks have put themselves in a good position.

Don’t forget: Alabama landed the top dual-threat quarterback in the country, and things are looking pretty darn rosy in Tuscaloosa. In fact, if we’re being honest, when have they not looked good since Nick Saban started dominating college football?

Finally, 4-star St. John Bosco wide receiver Logan Loya committed to UCLA on Monday. That that gives Holden the perfect opportunity to claim his spot – if he truly wants to be a Duck.

Jackson Light

The Ducks landed their third commitment in the 2021 class with this 6-3, 275-pound offensive lineman.

Light was in Eugene for the Saturday Night Live camp at the end of July as well for as the California game. He did not rush his decision, as he’s visited about 10 schools since the end of his sophomore year.

A variety of factors came into play to lead Light to the Ducks, including Mario Cristobal being a lineman in college, as well as the culture, the weather, the fans and the community in Eugene. Light told our Jonathan Charles that Oregon checked all the boxes for him, and the 3-star (0.8427 per the 247Sports Composite) said he will not be taking any other visits.

However, Light said he does hope to make it back to Eugene soon, once his high school team wraps up its season.

USC Game

What. A. Game. I mean, this one means so much more than the 56-24 final score.

As someone who likes to focus on recruiting, just take a look at the players from the Southern California area who played key roles for the Ducks on Saturday: Travis Dye, Troy Dye, CJ Verdell, Jaylon Redd, Deommodore Lenoir, Thomas Graham Jr., Mycah Pittman, Mase Funa, Nick Pickett -- and how could anyone forget Mykael Wright. I'm not saying USC was breaking down the door to get all of these guys, but the Trojans certainly had the geographic advantage.

I think the Oregon-USC recruiting battle can best be summed up in one play from that game: Wright’s 100-yard kickoff return near the end of the first half. He broke that return so quickly and flashed two fingers as he crossed the goal line – a clear reference to the Trojans’ “Fight On” signal.

As a die-hard Oregon fan, I couldn’t help but be overjoyed to see just how far the CaliFlock movement has come, and it turned a spotlight on just how important recruiting is. Thomas Graham Jr. was a one-time USC commit, and the Trojans losing out on him morphed into some tremendous success for the Ducks.

Ironically, the Trojans hosted a stellar group of high school talent for the Oregon game, only to watch the Ducks came into the Memorial Coliseum and dominate. Some of the notable Oregon targets on the sidelines: linebacker Justin Flowe, quarterback CJ Stroud, wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr., defensive end Korey Foreman and linebacker Raesjon Davis.

The Ducks made a statement. For now at least, they run L.A.

The performance on the field was amazing as well.

Justin Herbert had a weak first quarter, throwing an uncharacteristic interception and struggling to get into a groove. However, he got sharper as the game progressed, completing 20 of his last 21 passes and finishing with 3 touchdowns, 1 interception and 225 yards.

Oregon’s secondary played phenomenally, facing down an insanely talented receiving corps boasting players ranked as high 4- or 5-stars in high school. Michael Pittman Jr. has been on an absolute tear this season, but he was limited to 37 yards and 1 touchdown.

Oregon's defensive backs have improved so much since last year, and this game was a shining example of it.

On the offensive side, some would have liked to have seen a stronger rushing attack from the Ducks. However, I think the passing game was a focal point because that was where they had a tremendous amount of success.

Grad transfer Juwan Johnson had a breakout game that probably will move his name into some mock NFL draft boards. He embodies the kind of receiver this offense has needed for a while – and should see more regularly in the future; 2020 commit Johnny Wilson also can win 50-50 balls and make yards after the catch.

Johnson’s performance Saturday helps alleviate my concerns about how limited the passing attack has looked at times. These Ducks are the real deal; this win should pay dividends in building Oregon’s image nationally and on the recruiting trail.

Honors and Recognition

The USC challenge brought out the best in this team, and national media outlets took notice.

Senior offensive tackle Calvin Throckmorton took home his second Pac-12 offensive lineman of the week award. Wright won Pac-12 special teams player of the week. And Brady Breeze took home the award for the defensive player of the week after logging a fumble recovery and a pick 6.

Numerous Ducks also made the PFF College Pac-12 team of the week on offense and defense.


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