The Ducks are on their way to the best recruiting class in school history after adding 20 players on Wednesday, the first day of college football’s recently implemented early signing period. Two years after signing the first-ever consensus top-10 class in Oregon, Cristobal and his staff are well on their way to raising the bar with a class that some rank among the top five in the country.
The ultimate goal is to compete for national championships with the likes of Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State. That means competing for talent of the same level as those programs that the Ducks have been doing under Cristobal for the past three years.
“We’re getting closer to where the squad should look,” said Cristobal. “I think we’re approaching there.”
Led by top-100 recruits, including quarterback Ty Thompson and offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia, the Oregon class was given No. 5 nationally by Rivals and No. 6 according to ESPN and 247Sports starting Wednesday night. There is a chance of movement in the coming weeks as the Ducks look to expand this class with a few signers during the traditional February signing period.
Regardless, this is on track to become the highest-rated recruiting course in UO history. That in itself is remarkable, but especially considering that it originated during a global pandemic.
That forced the Ducks to go through much of their recruiting efforts pretty much over the past few months, but they also appreciated accidental timing. Their junior day, when players including Thompson and Tight End Moliki Matavao visited the campus, was held just before the pandemic brought the country to a halt in March.
“Having the chance to have them here and show them practice and the way we work is almost more important to me than having them here for a game, when it’s all the bell and whistle, and the fun stuff , and the crowd, ”said Cristobal.
The class had some clear positional priorities, including the line of attack, where the Ducks signed Suamataia along with Jackson Light, Jonah Miller, and Bram Walden. There are also three receivers – Isaiah Brevard, Troy Franklin and Dont’e Thornton – all of which are at least six feet tall and are considered the top 100 players in the country by at least one scouting service.
“We want to be a big, fast, physical soccer team, in every position,” said Cristobal. “This certainly fits those criteria. These (receivers) are physical guys. They’re explosive guys who can make you miss. They have incredible ball skills.
“They are nightmares that don’t match, is what they are.”
The quarterback who will throw at those wideouts – and also big, athletic tight ends Matavao and Terrance Ferguson – is Thompson. Thompson, the # 1 Arizona state recruit, was a five-star project, according to Rivals.
“He can do it all,” said Cristobal. “And he’s got the make-up to match … Inside and out he’s just a real champion.”
Thompson was one of four Arizona recruits signed by the Ducks on Wednesday. According to 247Sports, Oregon signed players with that state’s No. 1 (Thompson), No. 2 (Walden), and No. 5 (Miller) rankings in this recruiting cycle, along with outside linebacker Brandon Buckner.
“The state of Arizona has great football, incredible football,” said Cristobal. “High-level coaching, high-quality education and development. You’re looking at a place that we think we should recruit extremely well, extremely hard, because of the caliber of talent, the caliber of coaching.”
According to 247Sports, Thompson was also one of six Oregon-signed players to rank # 1 in their respective home countries this year. The Ducks also signed top-rated players from Utah (Suamataia), Nevada (Matavao), Colorado (Ferguson), New York (all-purpose back Seven McGee) and of course Lebanon’s top-rated in-state prospect linebacker Keith Brown.
That’s on the heels of the lessons of the past two years Noah Sewell, the top-rated Utah player in 2020, and edge defender Kayvon Thibodeaux, the best recruit from California in 2019. They will be joined in next year’s front seven in Oregon with 2021 recruits such as Buckner, defensive lineman Keanu Williams and linebacker Jabril McNeill.
Not only did Brown represent his home state in this year’s UO recruiting course, he was also essential in building it, Cristobal said. Considered the best prospect in the country by 247Sports, Light also worked hard on social media and behind the scenes to help recruit future teammates.
“They got together and they really started generating these incredible friendships and ties and ties,” said Cristobal, who said 15 or 16 players from this class could enroll for the upcoming winter and / or spring quarters in college.
Before they ever hit campus, the 2021 recruiting class has built a championship culture together. Soon they also want to become champions on the field together.