Oregon Adds 24 Players to Football Roster
Feb. 6, 2003
EUGENE - Oregon football coach Mike Bellotti completed his eighth recruiting class with the design of addressing some immediate needs in the defensive secondary, at linebacker as well as wide receiver. In the process of signing 19 high school standouts and five junior college transfers, the Ducks now find themselves faster on defense, some taller targets to throw the football to and what Coach Bellotti described as the best crop of quarterback recruits in the country.
With a group that began with the official signing of much-heralded quarterback Johnny DuRocher, who first offerred his verbal commitment to attend Oregon in May of 2002, culminated with the additions of Tallahassee, Fla., cornerback Ryan Gilliam and San Leandro, Calif., quarterback Dennis Dixon to provide the school with one of its most impressive recruiting classes in recent memory.
'I see all the JC guys given a tremendous opportunity to jump right into the mix and obviously expect them to contribute one way or another next year,' Bellotti said. 'I rarely predict that any high school guys are going to jump in (for playing time as true freshmen), but I tell each of them they are going to have the opportunity to play next year. It depends on how much preparation they put in, both from a physical standpoint and a mental toughness standpoint, as well as their ability to accept coaching and our physical needs.'
Five players who may have an edge of getting on the field next year due to being on campus in time for spring drills are junior college tight end Eddie Whitaker and cornerback Rodney Woods, Washington prep standouts DuRocher and Jordan Carey, who both plan to graduate from high school early and begin their college careers ahead of schedule, and defensive lineman Victor Filipe, who already is at Oregon after graduating from high school two years ago and spending the ensuing time on a Mormon mission.
Other than the additions of 14 players from the state of California and three from Washington, the remainder of the crop of newcomers was spread between seven states. That included Dante Rosario from Dayton as the only Oregonian signed this year. But that doesn't mean Bellotti wouldn't have liked to have had more in-state players join no fewer than the 27 returning Oregon products on campus.
'Of the (Oregon) young men going elsewhere, we offerred two of them scholarships and two of them commited (to other schools) during last summer' Bellotti admitted. 'I think we were in on the guys that we wanted and offerred but they chose to go elsewhere.'
The Ducks will open spring drills on April 5.
2003 OREGON FOOTBALL SIGNEES
Marcus Maxwell, WR, Jr., 6-3, 198, Pinole, Calif. (Diablo Valley College)
Marcus Miller, LB, Jr.*, 6-2, 214, Lakewood, Calif. (Cerritos College)
Marc Walker, CB, Jr., 5-11, 178, Richmond, Calif. (City College of San Francisco)
Eddie Whitaker, TE, Jr., 6-4, 236, Toluca Lake, Calif. (Los Angeles Valley College)
Rodney Woods, CB, Jr., 5-10, 176, Littlerock, Calif. (Fresno City College)
* Has already utilized redshirt year
Brandon Bair, TE/DE, 6-7, 238, St. Anthony, Idaho (South Fremont HS)
Lance Broadus, ATH, 6-2, 219, Hawthorne, Calif. (Taft HS)
Jordan Carey, WR, 5-11, 193, Olympia, Wash. (Capital HS)
Dennis Dixon, QB, 6-4, 181, San Leandro, Calif. (San Leandro HS)
Johnny DuRocher, QB, 6-4, 197, Graham, Wash. (Bethel HS)
Victor Filipe, DL, 6-3, 297, Salt Lake City, Utah (Highland)
Ryan Gilliam, CB, 5-9, 158, Tallahassee, Fla. (Lincoln HS)
Jerome Johnson, FB, 6-0, 246, Carson, Calif. (Dorsey HS)
Dan Kause, TE, 6-4, 233, Villa Park, Calif. (Servite HS)
Brady Leaf, QB, 6-5, 204, Great Falls, Mont. (C.M. Russell HS)
Paul Martinez, P, 6-1, 193, Danville, Calif. (San Ramon Valley HS)
Brian Paysinger, WR, 6-2, 185, Long Beach, Calif. (Wilson HS)
Dante Rosario, LB/ATH, 6-4, 232, Dayton, Ore. (Dayton HS)
Pat So'oalo, OL, 6-6, 302, Kaneohe, Hawaii (Kailua HS)
Garren Strong, WR, 6-3, 182, Cupertino, Calif. (Homestead HS)
Josh Tschirgi, OL, 6-4, 280, Vancouver, Wash. (Skyview HS)
A.J. Tuitele, S, 5-11, 193, Wilmington, Calif. (Banning HS)
Kyle Weatherspoon, WR/DB, 6-1, 182, Long Beach, Calif. (Lynwood HS)
Ramond White, LB, 6-4, 218, Henderson, Nev. (Green Valley HS)
BIOS OF OREGON'S 2003 SIGNEES
MARCUS MAXWELL, Wide Receiver
6-3, 198, Jr., Pinole, Calif. (Diablo Valley College)
The first-team all-Golden Gate Conference selection tied for 23rd in the final California Community College rankings in receptions per game (5.0 avg.) and 25th in receiving yards (75.1 avg.), accumulating 40 catches for 601 yards and seven touchdowns his sophomore season.
MARCUS MILLER, Linebacker
6-2, 214, Jr., Lakewood, Calif. (Cerritos College/Artesia HS)
The second-team all-Mission Conference North Division standout posted a 2002 season-high 16 tackles in the Cerritos Strawberry Bowl. Completed his second season with 49 unassisted tackles and 28 assists for a Falcon defense which allowed opponents an average of only 119.9 rushing yards per game during the regular season. The 48th-rated junior college player in the country (JCFootball.com) also added four quarterback hurries, three tackles for losses, two sacks and one pass deflection for a squad which ended the year with an 8-3 record. Posted 32 tackles (10 unassisted) and knocked down four passes during his JC freshman year after redshirting the 2000 season. Garnered first-team all-Suburban League honors as a senior at Artesia High School in '99, accumulated 88 tackles and five tackles for loss to rank third in the league in stops. Was slowed due to injuries as a prep junior, with his play limited to 32 tackles in three games. Also spent three years on the track team, with the all-league pick looming unbeaten during the regular season in the shot put. Also competed in the 400-meter relay.
MARC WALKER, Cornerback
5-11, 178, Jr., Richmond, Calif. (City College of San Francisco)
Accumulated 22 tackles and 17 assists for defensive unit which led the state's junior college ranks in total defense (192.3 avg.) last fall. Also credited with breaking up six passes, returning one of his two interceptions for a touchdown and recovering a pair of fumbles for the Rams, who completed 2002 with a 9-2 record and a 44-6 win over College of San Mateo in the Hawaiian Punch Bowl.
EDDIE WHITAKER, Tight End
6-4, 236, Jr., Toluca Lake, Calif. (Los Angeles Valley College)
Limited to only five catches for 59 yards and one touchdown during the regular season his sophomore year for a squad which averaged only 147.8 yards per game through the air. The former high school quarterback added 10 receptions for 123 yards as a first-year tight end for the Monarchs his freshman season. Has developed solid hands and possesses the athleticism that allows him to get downfield in a hurry.
RODNEY WOODS, Cornerback
5-10, 176, Jr., Littlerock, Calif. (Fresno City College)
The second-team JC Grid-Wire All-American accumulated touchdowns as a punt returner, kickoff returner as well as on defense as a sophomore, returning one of three interceptions for a score (57 yards). The two-time first-team all-Valley League defensive back and 2002 all-California Region II choice ranked fourth in the state in punt returns a year ago, running back 21 punts for 363 yards (17.3 avg.) and one touchdown (66 yards) during the regular season. Also ran back four kickoffs for 145 yards (36.3 avg.) and one TD (86 yards) as a sophomore, with the Rams tallying a 19-3 ledger and one conference championship (2001) during his tenure. Recorded 58 tackles (43 unassisted) last fall in addition to breaking up nine passes, causing three fumbles and recovering two loose footballs.
BRANDON BAIR, Tight End/Defensive End
6-7, 238, St. Anthony, Idaho (South Fremont)
The first-team all-state defensive honoree (Idaho Statesman) accumulated 32 tackles and two quarterback sacks in addition to grabbing 20 catches for 260 yards and three touchdowns as a tight end his senior year. In addition to being characterized as a great run blocker by Cougars' head coach Chris Tucker, he also made it into the end zone on four 2-point conversions. The 2001 first-team all-conference offensive and defensive choice added 17 catches for 197 yards and three TDs as well as 40 tackles, 11 sacks and one blocked punt as a prep junior.
LANCE BROADUS, Athlete
6-2, 219, Hawthorne, Calif. (Taft)
Although tremendous speed and instincts allowed the first-team all-state choice to dominate the field from sideline to sideline as a prep linebacker, the same athletic traits could make him attractive at a number of positions at the next level. Last year accumulated 94 tackles and forced six fumbles in his final 14 appearances in which Taft posted a 13-1 record, in addition to being credited with a trio of quarterback sacks, one recovered fumble and three interceptions. One of 12 linebackers named to the California Hot 100 list (Cal-Hi Sports) and seventh-best linebacker on the West Coast (PacWest Football), only two linebackers garnered more votes (7) on the Long Beach Press-Telegram's Best in the West ledger. Also Mr. Football State Player-of-the-Year nominee (Cal-Hi Sports) also helped lead team to L.A. City Section championship game each of his last two seasons. Displayed a physical presence as a junior enroute to accumulating 144 tackles recovering four fumbles and intercepting two passes to garner all-city, area and state accolades.
JORDAN CAREY, Wide Receiver
5-11, 193, Olympia, Wash. (Capital)
This all-around athlete was pegged as the third-best football prospect out of the state of Washington by SuperPrep in addition to being ranked as the No. 3 receiver on the West Coast and one of the nation's top 25. Accumulating 2,700 all-purpose yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior, he led the Cougars to the Class 4A state championship finals. The Seattle Times state player of the year and Tacoma News Tribune Northwest Nuggets pick played eight different positions during his final season and possesses the traits that could lend itself to becoming a kick return standout as well as a quality wide receiver. Accumulated 1,007 yards rushing, 889 receiving yards and 116 yards on seven interceptions as a senior in addition to returning kicks for another 688 yards (522 kickoff returns, 166 punt returns). Scored a school-record six touchdowns (two rushing, two receiving, one kickoff return and one punt return) against Tacoma's Stadium High School -- all in one half. Also broke a 100-yard kickoff return for a score against Mount Tahoma in addition to running, passing and receiving his way into the end zone against Wilson. As a junior he compiled close to 2,000 all-purpose yards and 22 TDs. Provides a natural instinct for the game and offers a combination of intelligence to go along with his physical savvy as the Narrows League's two-time MVP.
DENNIS DIXON, Quarterback
6-4, 181, San Leandro, Calif. (SLHS)
Possesses all-around intangibles reminiscent of new age of athletic quarterbacks who are threats as both a passer and a runner, with the strong-armed Parade All-American considered in some circles as the top signal-caller on the West Coast. Attracted more votes (8) on the Long Beach Press-Telegram's Best in the West list than any other quarterback after throwing for 2,736 yards and 30 touchdowns his senior season, leading his team to wins in 11 of its last 12 games. Completed 164 of 268 passes (61.2%) in 2002 to complete his varsity career passing for 5,951 yards and 79 scoring strikes. The three-year starter helped guide team to a 36-3 record, with all three setbacks coming at the hands of three-time defending national champion De La Salle High School (Concord, CA). Ranked 94th on ESPN's list of top 100 college prospects in the country regardless of position as the 12th-best quarterback.
JOHNNY DuROCHER, Quarterback
6-4, 197, Graham, Wash. (Bethel)
SuperPrep's top prep prospect from the state of Washington considered the second-best quarterback on the West Coast and one of the top nine QBs in the country while ESPN tabbed him 58th nationally among all high school recruits regardless of position. The state's Gatorade Player of the Year and Northwest Nuggets selection (Tacoma News Tribune) threw for 2255 yards and 26 touchdowns his senior year. The honorable mention Long Beach Press-Telegram's Best in the West honoree possesses sound mechanics and a strong arm while improving his footwork as the year wore on, completing his career ninth on the state's all-time passing chart with 6,781 yards and 67 touchdowns. The No. 1 player in the region (TheInsiders.com Hot 100 Northwest) also was chosen as state 2002 Player of the Year by the Tacoma News Tribune. Passed for 2,299 yards and 23 scores as a junior in an offense that also featured a 2,000-yard rusher. The three-year starter led the Braves to the 2001 4A state semifinals, as well as a trio of undefeated regular seasons in the South Puget Sound League (34-5), in addition to guiding his team to the state championship finals his sophomore season.
VICTOR FILIPE, Defensive Line
6-3, 297, Salt Lake City, Utah (Highland)
The two-time all-state honoree anchored a 2000 defense that led the Rams to the finals of the 4A state championships while allowing less than seven points per game his senior year before embarking on a two-year Mormon mission. Recorded 24 quarterback sacks his final year, including six in one game. Voted team captain for both the football and basketball teams in addition to earning a place on the Rams' academic honor roll all four years (3.8 gpa) and twice earning the region's academic sports leadership award.
RYAN GILLIAM, Cornerback
5-9, 158, Tallahassee, Fla. (Lincoln)
Utilizes uncanny quickness and explosion to make plays uncommon to other athletes of his stature as he is ranked among this year's top 11 cornerback prospects in the country according to ESPN. Demonstrated blazing speed to record 19 receptions for 163 yards in addition to accumulating in excess of 50 tackles and two interceptions for a team which finished the year with a 12-1-1 record. Also broke up 10 passes for a squad that ranked as the state's 4A leader. Older brother, Mike, is a third-year running back at the University of Georgia.
JEROME JOHNSON, Fullback
6-0, 246, Carson, Calif. (Dorsey)
Possessing traits as a hard-nose football player, attracted most of his acclaim as a physical linebacker. Accumulated 90 unassisted tackles and 46 assists over the course of his final 11 games, in addition to 10 quarterback sacks and 21 tackles tackles for loss. Also forced six fumbles, recovered two loose balls and picked off two errant aeriels. Offensively, contributed 18 catches for 362 yards and six TDs.
DAN KAUSE, Tight End
6-4, 233, Villa Park, Calif. (Servite)
Overcame a thumb injury which sidelined him most of his junior year to come on strong as a prep senior, grabbing 20 catches for 331 yards and one touchdown. Also created a presence as a blocker for the Friars, who averaged better than 190 yards per game on the ground and finished the season with a 7-4 mark.
BRADY LEAF, Quarterback
6-5, 204, Great Falls, Mont. (C.M. Russell)
Attracted first-team all-state acclaim and was a member of the Great Falls Tribune's 2002 Super-State team while leading teammates to an 11-2 record and Class AA runner-up finish. Completed 237 of 411 passes for a school-record 3,430 yards and 30 touchdowns, paced by school's single-game best 373 yards. The strong-armed thrower also placed second in the state javelin championships as a sophomore before finishing third last spring.
PAUL MARTINEZ, Punter
6-1, 193, Danville, Calif. (San Ramon Valley)
Ranked as the second-best kicking prospect in the Farwest by SuperPrep and among the top 15 punters in the country (TheInsiders.com), has demonstrates equal proficiency in art of punting as well as placekicking. Connected on 12 of 15 field goals his senior year, including a 50-yard effort, and accumulated 80 points his final prep season. Averaged 4.5 seconds of hang time on punts, including a 53-yard kick.
BRIAN PAYSINGER, Wide Receiver
6-2, 185, Long Beach, Calif. (Wilson)
The first-team Dream Team (Long Beach Press-Telegram) receiver and all-Moore League pick provides a physical presence despite his untapped potential. Made the most of his opportunities in a run-oriented offense, catching 58 passes for 1,004 yards and 10 touchdowns as he was a Mr. Football State Player-of-the-Year nominee by Cal-Hi Sports.
DANTE ROSARIO, Linebacker/Athlete
6-4, 232, Dayton, Ore. (DHS)
The 2002 Oregon 2A state player of the year earned first-team all-state honors on both offense and defense his senior year while leading the Pirates to the 2A state championship. Ranked as the No. 6 linebacker on the West Coast by SuperPrep after posting 144 tackles (75 unassisted) and three quarterback sacks as a free safety/middle linebacker to go along with 1,238 yards rushing in 2002. The West Valley League standout also scored 27 offensive touchdowns in to returning three of five interceptions into the end zone and two punts for TDs. Paced his team to a 56-6 victory over Jefferson early in the year, turning two of his three carries at running back into touchdowns in addition to to returning a punt 52 yards for another score and dominating play on defense. The natural athlete ran for over 1,000 yards as a sophomore in only his second season of organized football while also excelling in basketball for the school's two-time defending state champions. First garnered all-state acclaim on defense as a junior before receiving outstanding outside linebacker accolades at the Ducks' football camp the following summer. Proved to be vital in team's state championship victory over four-time winner Amity as he becomes school's first athlete awarded a Division I scholarship. Combines tremendous strength and speed, bench pressing 260 pounds and squating 345.
PAT SO'OALO, Offensive Line
6-6, 302, Kaneohe, Hawaii (Kailua)
One of the best offensive linemen in Hawaii afforded first-team all-state and O'ahu Interscholastic Association East Red Conference all-league accolades after being rated among the top 30 tight ends in the country prior to his final season. Ranked as the fifth-best college prospect on the islands by the Honolulu Star Bulletin, proved to be an integral part of an offense that led the OIA in total offense (445.0 avg.). Selected to play for the East squad in this year's state all-star game after assisting Surfriders to the conference title.
GARREN STRONG, Wide Receiver
6-3, 182, Cupertino, Calif. (Homestead)
Possesses a combination of speed and size that makes him enticing at the next level as one of California's top 16 prep receivers. Responded with 33 catches for 558 yards and eight scoring receptions over the course of his last 13 games in which Homestead posted a 10-3 record. Also contributed a pair of scores on two punt returns his senior year.
JOSH TSCHIRGI, Offensive Line
6-4, 280, Vancouver, Wash. (Skyview)
One of the top-20 ranked offensive linemen on the West Coast (PacWestFootball) has displayed the qualities that would make him a good fit in the Ducks' system at offensive guard or center, with solid footwork conducive to his utilization around the perimeter and downfield. Emerged as a dominating run blocker and credited with 45 pancake blocks as a junior.
A.J. TUITELE, Safety
5-11, 193, Wilmington, Calif. (Banning)
Brings a physical element to the game and acquired the reputation as an aggresive player defending the run. Yet that's not to insinuate he lacks skills as a pass defender. Possessing innate football instincts, ranked as the seventh-best defensive back on the West Coast by SuperPrep and the No. 3 safety (PacWest Football) garnered two votes on the Long Beach Press-Telegram's Best in the West listing. Accumulated nine interceptions his senior year while credited with six quarterback sacks among his 41.5 tackles. Also added three fumble recoveries in addition to a trio of forced fumbles as a free safety in addition to carrying the ball 110 times for 814 yards (7.4 avg.) and eight touchdowns. Rushed for 1,245 yards and 13 TDs as a junior all-state nominee after bursting on the scene for 1,400 yards on the ground in only nine games his sophomore seasopn. The all-state team Special Mention standout was one of 16 defensive backs named to the California Hot 100 worksheet (Cal-Hi Sports) in addition to emerging among the top 25 defensive backs in the country.
KYLE WEATHERSPOON, Wide Receiver/Defensive Back
6-1, 182, Long Beach, Calif. (Lynwood)
Transferred from Paramount High School for his senior year before it was determined he would be ineligible to play in any games due to transfer regulations. As a junior at his former school, was credited with 28 receptions for 523 yards and seven touchdowns while operating in a run-oriented offense. Was named the Long Beach Press Telegram's Boys Area Athlete of the Week after catching seven passes for 196 yards and one score in a 13-11 loss to Downey High School. Was clocked with a 40 time of 4.37 in last summer's L.A. Nike Camp, marking the second-fastest time of the event.
RAMOND WHITE, Linebacker
6-4, 218, Henderson, Nev. (Green Valley)
The first-team all-Sunrise Region selection and two-time all-city pick was credited with 89 tackles his senior year while receiving defensive player-of-the-year accolades from the Henderson Home News. Also contributed six tackles for loss and three quarterback sacks for a program which finished the season with a 2-8 record and an opening-round loss in the post-season. Also a three-year starter on the Gators' basketball team which features Oregon basketball recruit Mitch Platt and finished third in the state during the 2001-02 season. Completed his junior football year with honorable mention all-region acclaim after not taking up the sport until his sophomore season.