While everyone was keeping their eyes on Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama and Ole Miss on signing day, not many outside of Eugene, Ore. were watching the Ducks.
As usual, the Ducks flew under everyone's radar.
And, as usual, Oregon's newest recruiting class is loaded with explosive talent. Landing a top 20 class is the norm for a lot of SEC teams but for Oregon, under new head coach Mark Helfrich, this is a very positive sign.
Oregon is no longer the face of Chip Kelly—it can stand on its own.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer did manage to flip longtime Oregon commit and 4-star running back Dontre Wilson who reportedly was "hurt" by Kelly's departure to the NFL but the potential for more defections was deterred. To be honest, Meyer is an expert at pulling this off and so far, no one has been able to completely stop his deft recruiting skills on or around signing day.
Tyrell and Tyree Robinson, the 4-star twins out of San Diego, Ca., changed their status with Oregon after then-head coach Chip Kelly left the green pastures of Eugene for the City of Brotherly Love to coach the Philadelphia Eagles. Helfrich still managed to hang on to the Robinsons and ink their signatures despite fans projecting them to decommit.
Helfrich also kept 5-star running back Thomas Tyner in the Ducks' nest—Tyner had always been a solid commitment but nothing is ever guaranteed with teenagers, is it?
Like a cagey veteran head coach, Helfrich flipped USC former commit and 4-star defensive end Torrodney Prevot. That's pretty damn impressive for a head coach who ostensibly was assumed to have the primary goal of just keeping the class of '13 intact. Helfrich has already proven he is an overachiever.
The new kid on the block did very well on signing day despite some wavering prospects and the NCAA's decision on the Ducks' recruiting scandal looming ever so closer.
Helfrich not only held his ground, he flexed some muscle. Seven of the Ducks 2013 class are from California while two are from Texas—Oregon has established some nice pipelines to two of college football's most fertile recruiting grounds.
So far, Oregon and Helfrich haven't skipped a beat. How Helfrich maintains the Kelly-to-Helfrich transition over the next few months remains to be seen.
If the NCAA comes down hard on Oregon, Helfrich may be in a battle similar to what USC head coach Lane Kiffin and Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien faced after stiff NCAA-imposed sanctions; lots of transfers that can't be stopped and a general aura of helplessness enveloping the school while other schools circle like vultures waiting to snap up prized football players.
But until/if that happens, right now Mark Helfrich has Oregon is prime position to keep doing what the Ducks have been doing—winning the Pac-12 and playing in BCS bowls.
So far, Helfrich grades out with an A after passing signing day with flying colors.
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