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Oregon Football

Torres Take: Latest in Oregon Football Recruiting

November 19, 2019

The Oregon Ducks have clinched the Pac-12 North title and officially punched their ticket to the conference championship game in Santa Clara. In addition, some important visitors were on campus as recruiting comes to a head for this 2020 class.

Jaylen Smith

Perhaps the biggest recruiting story of the weekend was the visit and commitment of the 6-4, 280-pound defensive lineman.

Hailing from Ahoskie (North Carolina), Smith had been a longtime North Carolina State commit. He was offered by the Ducks two weeks ago, decommitted two days after being offered -- and became Oregon's 22nd 2020 pledge on Monday.

The 3-star (0.8654 per the 247Sports Composite) defensive lineman will bolster depth along a front line that could lose senior Drayton Carlberg to graduation and junior Jordon Scott to the NFL. Mario Cristobal and his staff now hold 2020 commitments from athletes from 13 different states in the 2020 class. The dominoes appear to be falling at just the right time for Oregon, with the early national signing just under a month away. As a senior, Smith has logged 64 total tackles, 51 of which were solo. He’s also recorded 11.5 sacks and forced 5 fumbles (stats per Maxpreps). You can view his junior highlights here.

Julius Coates

The Ducks are getting tight on room for the 2020 class, but one position they’ve prioritized is defensive line. Coates’ 6-6, 270-pound frame compares favorably to such former Oregon defensive linemen as Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner.

The East Mississippi Community College recruit was in town for the Ducks’ 34-6 victory over Arizona. He told ScoopDuck that he couldn’t find a single negative from the trip and that it checked all of his boxes.

While he remains committed to Mel Tucker and the Colorado Buffaloes, Coates said he is taking some trips to ensure he is making the right decision. And he enjoyed Eugene so much he named the Ducks his new leader.

Looking ahead, Coates will sign with his school of choice on December 18. Before signing, he will be taking a trip to Lincoln (Nebraska) at the end of November to check out the Cornhuskers.

Coates will will have two years of remaining eligibility.

The Ducks made a massive impression, but they could be finished at defensive line with the recent addition of Jaylen Smith.

You can watch Coates' most recent highlights here.

Seven McGee

One of just three 2021 commits for the Ducks, the nation’s No. 2 running back took in his first game at Autzen Stadium this past weekend. McGee spoke with our Jacob Archer, telling him Saturday’s game was the loudest he’s ever attended.

McGee spent some time with Avantae Williams, a 2020 Oregon safety commit. The two talked about their aspirations to bring the first football national championship to Eugene.

McGee hasn’t been able to play this season after transferring back to East High School in Rochester (New York). But he will see some live competition in early January when he plays for Team USA against the Canadian National Team.

McGee insists the lack of competition hasn’t slowed him down, as he’s been training a lot. His current trainer has worked with the likes of NFL greats Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.

The Oregon fan base was a big talking point for McGee, as was the play of the offense.

There have been rumblings about McGee reclassifying to the 2020 class, but our Justin Hopkins believes that he isn’t far enough ahead in school for that to be a possibility.

You can watch McGee's highlights from his sophomore season at East High School here.


Let’s start off with the big one everyone is talking about: freshman wide receiver Mycah Pittman. Pittman went out in the first half and did not return to action.

Watching the game from the club level, I thought originally he had injured his leg, as it whipped around and slammed into another player in an awkward way. However, time would reveal that Pittman broke a bone in his arm that could sideline him for up to six weeks.

Coach Mario Cristobal didn’t rule out Pittman returning to play in a bowl game, but it’s not looking very promising at the moment. Pittman underwent successful surgery Monday in the presence of family members.

Linebacker Bryson Young and running back CJ Verdell also left the game with injuries. According to Cristobal, Young “took a shot to his leg” but he should be fine.

As for Verdell, he hyperextended his elbow. (It was a rough game for Verdell; he also threw up on the field.) The coach said he look like a full go for Saturday's game against the Sun Devils.

Arizona Game Review

I made it down to Eugene on Saturday for my annual Oregon game, and it did not disappoint.

The Ducks came out firing and had total control. Justin Herbert threw just his third interception of the year, but other than that there weren’t many blemishes on the offense’s performance.

Herbie completed passes to nine different receivers, which is a welcome change from his keying in on Dillon Mitchell last year. (Even though Pittman went down, I think Josh Delgado and Bryan Addison are capable replacements.) Herbert’s final stat line was 20 for 28 passing for 4 touchdowns, with that 1 interception.

One thing that really struck me from this performance were the yards after catch we saw from the receivers and running backs. Consider Johnny Johnson’s long touchdown to open up the game. Travis Dye’s screen that went for a touchdown. And Jaylon Redd broke loose on another screen.

Herbert took a lot of downfield shots this game, perhaps because the Wildcat defense wasn’t playing well or because he was feeling more confident. Whatever the reason, I loved how he stretched the field and got a variety of players involved.

Travis Dye has been sneaky good, improving each week and proving he is a great pound-for-pound back. He displayed great patience.

So did Darrian Felix, who made some plays late. I don’t believe CJ Verdell’s durability is where the staff wants it to be, which could open the door for Felix to play a bigger role.

The defense played great, getting back to limiting opponents to single-digit scoring after yielding multiple touchdowns in three straight games.

Kayvon Thibodeaux has really come into his own lately. His athleticism was on display against Khalil Tate, one of the quicker quarterbacks in the conference.

The Ducks held Arizona to just 5 for 17 on third down and 0 for 2 on fourth down. The tackling was cleaner, and Oregon recorded 9 tackles for loss, 6 of which were sacks.

The depth on the front line is arguably the best I’ve seen at Oregon. That makes it much easier to roll with the punches that come with each week of a lengthy and physically demanding college football season.

The defenders kept the game in front of them and did a great job of not over-penetrating when rushing the passer -- a crucial component to containing a mobile quarterback. They also held the opposing team to less than 10 points for the sixth time this season, a feat Oregon hasn’t accomplished since 1960.

The Ducks will head to Tempe this weekend to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils. The last time there, in 2017, they lost a tight 35-37 battle behind a huge performance from N’Keal Harry and Manny Wilkins. 

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