Ducks Add To Class of 2022
The signing class that Oregon football added to Wednesday has been assembled with maximum velocity.
The Ducks under new coach Dan Lanning sought speed. And they had no time to waste in adding it.
"In a short amount of time," Lanning said Wednesday, "I think our coaches did a tremendous job and our support staff did a tremendous job."
Lanning was hired as the new UO head coach on Dec. 11, and spent the next month balancing those duties with his role as the outgoing defensive coordinator at Georgia. That tenure ended up on a high note, with the Bulldogs winning the College Football Playoff national championship.
And now Lanning is off to a pretty good start with the Ducks, assembling a recruiting class that ranked in the top 20 nationally as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the On3 network.
After signing seven players in December, shortly after Lanning took over, the Ducks added eight more on Wednesday. Among the eight were several previously committed to Oregon – Jahlil Florence, Dave Iuli, Emar'rion Winston and Trejon Williams – who reconsidered after the coaching change but ultimately stuck by those pledges and signed national letters of intent.
"It was a challenge, but a challenge we welcome," Lanning said. "Oregon's a phenomenal place. We've got the ability to get great players here, and I think people just had to have an opportunity to sit down and listen to us, and realize we have a genuine group here who care."
The seven-player cohort that signed in December was heavy on big guys – five in the defensive front seven, and one offensive lineman. Iuli and Kawika Rogers provided more size in the trenches Wednesday, but the Ducks also added skill in the offensive and defensive backfields, including in-state prospects Williams and Justius Lowe, running back Jordan James and defensive backs Florence and Khamari Terrell.
Terrell is one of the new signees with elite speed – a four-time district champion sprinter from Texas who finished third in the 400 at the Outdoor Nationals high school meet at Hayward Field in 46.92 seconds.
"The game's about speed," said Lanning, whose ferociously fast Georgia defense was a huge key in the Bulldogs' national championship run. "We gotta be able to run – and hit, and tackle, and catch, and block. All those things matter. But speed's one thing that's hard to change. And we have some guys coming in that can (run)."
As for the offensive and defensive lines? They're of the utmost importance, too.
"You have to win the game at the line of scrimmage – period," Lanning said. "That's football."
In trying to quickly finalize this recruiting class after the coaching change, Lanning painted the picture of his new staff taking a bunker mentality, spending all hours together for the sake of their new program. While their families coordinated moves, some of the coaches found temporary housing together under the same roof, drawing up plays and watching film "into the wee hours of the night."
When he could begin making visits on behalf of his new program, Lanning spent his first day on the road at high schools in the state of Oregon. That paid off Wednesday when the Ducks signed three players from the Portland Metro area – Lowe, Williams and Winston.
"We have the ability to go anywhere" across the nation to pursue recruits, Lanning said. "And that's a blessing. But we have to win home first."
Spring practice will begin for Oregon in mid-March, with a pause in the 15-practice schedule for spring break and then a resumption in April. Lanning was still unsure exactly how many of the new recruits might be on hand by then; one is already, linebacker Anthony Jones, who signed in December and enrolled in January.
Jones and potentially other recruits from the class of 2022 will get their first chance to play as Ducks in Autzen Stadium on April 23, when Oregon holds its annual spring game. That will also be a key visit weekend for recruits in future classes, Lanning said.
Thus, he implored UO fans to "make Autzen the experience we know it can be" for the Spring Game.
With the same breakneck speed at which Lanning and his staff is assembling Oregon's signing class of 2022, they're moving just as fast in pivoting to the class of 2023 and beyond.