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Oregon Football

What Might Have Been

September 4, 2020

In recruiting the old Ricky Bobby wisdom rings truer than ever, ‘If you ain’t first, you’re last.’ And that’s how it goes in recruiting. If you don’t land the target, you might as well have been last. 

“There are no points for second place gentlemen.” (If you’re under 30 you may need to look that quote up)

I’ve covered recruiting with an upfront seat for over a decade now. From Bellotti to Chip to the new ‘normal’ we’ve experienced under Mario Cristobal which has the Ducks among the nation’s elite. I can honestly say I never thought Oregon would recruit at the current levels we’re seeing. I’m guessing Scott Frost didn’t either. 

The Ducks have been the runner-up for some of the best players in the last decade. And prior to the last couple years, Oregon was either just a hat on the table or left standing at the altar. We’ve seen a number of players pull a last minute switcheroo and other scenarios exist. 

I’m not going to project where they would have gone in the NFL draft at Oregon or if it would have been a better situation at Oregon than where they ended up. But these are just five offensive players the Ducks were at least in the top three for I would have loved to cover at Oregon.

Top Five (In reverse order)

5. Jaylen Waddle - WR (No. 39 - 2018)

This spot was a tough one for me because it coud have been a number of guys here. But Waddle is one of the most electric players in the country already and would have been an absolute blast to cover. It’s not a big shock to see him end up at Alabama but the Ducks made a pretty strong run at him. I know QB11 still wakes up in a cold sweat at night dreaming of Waddle in a Duck uni.

4. Marqise Lee - (No. 47 - 2011)

Everyone under the sun was recruiting Lee as a safety and Oregon told him he could play on offense. Then he torched the Opening (In Portland on both sides of the ball) and everyone, including USC told him he could play offense. Well that was that for Oregon for the most part but it was a good run while it lasted. 

3. Keenan Allen (No. 10 - 2010)

Some of you have no idea how close this one was but I’ll rewind the tape. Keenan Allen is one of the top players in the country involved in a group of North Carolina players. One of those players (Gabe King) moved to Eugene for his high school year even. He spent most of the year injured. Of the four players, Oregon only ended up with James Sample, the lowest rated of the group, while the other three ended up at Cal, including Keenan Allen. This was one of the more interesting recruiting storylines I’ve ever covered. (The whole foursome, not just Keenan)

2. Juju Smith-Schuster - WR (No. 21 - 2014)

Other than De’Anthony Thomas, whom Oregon fans LOVE to cling to, the Ducks just didn’t beat the Trojans out for recruits until now. For those of you that have just jumped on the bandwagon and expect Oregon to sign whomever they want over USC, that didn’t happen in 2014. I still maintain Juju Smith (No Schuster at the time) wanted to be a Duck but some family pressure kept him closer to home. That happens all over the country but it really felt like the Ducks were about to score a big one. There are no points for second place.

1. Tua Tagovailoa - QB (No. 32 - 2017)

I mean, who else was I going to put here? One of the biggest recruiting missteps in Oregon history. Ever. Anywhere. It worked out for the Ducks in the end transitioning from Mariota to Herbert. But it doesn’t mean that this wasn’t a massive mistake. Sure he ended up at Bama in a great spot, but Tags was all Oregon had they picked up the phone, made an official offer and said let’s go. 

Others Considered

Blake Barnett - QB (No. 22 - 2015)

Joe Mixon - RB (No. 19 - 2014)

Kyle Murphy - OL (No. 22 -2012)

Deontay Greenberry - OL (No. 43 - 2012)

Johnny Manziel - QB (No. 374 - 2011)

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