Ducks get 2 surprises on signing day
Chip Kelly's departure doesn't look to have affected Oregon's recruiting all that much.
The Ducks saw one recruit get away but they also got a pair of unexpected letters of intent on Wednesday from four-star defensive end Torrodney Prevot from Houston and offensive lineman Cameron Hunt from Corona, Calif. Both were believed to be leaning toward other schools.
The additions were a boon to Mark Helfrich's first recruiting class as head coach of the Ducks.
''This is a special place, and we've been able to attract a ton of talent,'' said Helfrich, who was named Oregon's coach last month when Kelly decided to make the jump to the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.
When he was promoted, Helfrich said he didn't plan to make sweeping changes in how Oregon does things. But the entire coaching staff - most of whom stayed in Eugene despite Kelly's exit - were proactive in revisiting the players who had committed to Oregon.
''We try to sell our deal,'' Helfrich said. ''We're not going to promise anybody anything. We're not going to guarantee anybody anything. And we usually end up with the right guys.''
Oregon's only loss was Dontre Wilson, a four-star running back out of Texas, who decided to attend Ohio State.
Twin brothers Tyree and Tyrell Robinson from San Diego also decided to reopen their recruitment after Kelly left, looking at Washington and Ohio State. The two, recruited as athletes, ultimately decided on Wednesday morning to become Ducks.
Oregon, ranked No. 2 in the final AP Top 25, finished 12-1 this past season, capped by a 35-17 victory over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl. Oregon went 46-7 over the past four seasons under Kelly, who devised the Ducks' innovative hurry-up spread offense. Over that span, the Ducks won three Pac-12 championships and played in four BCS bowl games, including the national championship game in 2010 against Auburn.
Oregon's 2013 recruiting class included home-state standout Thomas Tyner, considered by many to be one of the top prep running backs in the country. He rushed for 3,415 yards for Aloha (Ore.) High School as a senior, setting a new single single-season rushing record for the state.
On his 18th birthday last September, Tyner set a state record with 643 yards rushing and scored 10 touchdowns in an 84-63 victory over Lakeridge High School. It was the third-most ever for a prep player, behind John Giannantonio's record of 754 yards in a game for Netcong High School in New Jersey in 1950, and Paul McCoy's 661 yards rushing for Matewan High School in West Virginia in 2006.
''The guy's off the charts,'' Helfrich said. ''World-class speed. Hopefully, he'll help our track team, too.''
Oregon got letters of intent from 19 players, including one junior college transfer. Helfrich said the Ducks filled two of their biggest needs by signing five offensive linemen and three linebackers.
Other notable recruits included running back Kani Benoit, who rushed for 2,260 yards and 36 touchdowns last season for Thunderbird High School in Arizona and 6-foot-2 quarterback Damion Hobbs from Texas. While Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota will only be a sophomore next season, backup Bryan Bennett decided recently to transfer to Southeastern Louisiana.
Oregon also signed defensive lineman Doug Brenner, whose big sister, Liz, plays basketball for the Ducks and was a standout on the volleyball team that went to the NCAA championship match this past season.
Signee Jake Pisarcik, a 6-foot-2, 290-pound offensive lineman from Medford, N.J., is the youngest son of former NFL quarterback Joe Pisarcik. Kicker Matt Wogan was his team captain at Porter Ridge High School in North Carolina.
In addition to Kelly's departure, there were concerns that Oregon's recruiting class could be affected by the ongoing NCAA investigation into the school's use of recruiting services.
The inquiry is the result of reports that surfaced in 2011 concerning payments Oregon made to two such services, including a $25,000 check sent to Willie Lyles and Houston-based Complete Scouting Services in 2010. Lyles had a connection with a player who committed to Oregon.
The matter appears headed toward a hearing before the NCAA infractions committee, possibly as early as this spring.