By all accounts, it was a very solid first recruiting class for Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich.
On a day that more and more college football fans are viewing as an unofficial holiday, Helfrich enjoyed his first national signing day by securing 19 letters of intent – two of those from 4-star athletes who at the last moment changed their commitment in favor of Oregon.
( Watch the Mark Helfrich press conference by clicking the video box. Video courtesy of the RG )
Early Wednesday afternoon, Helfrich held his first formal press conference as Oregon’s head coach to discuss the Ducks good fortune regarding their newest signee’s.
Helfrich began by giving credit to his eight assistant coaches who remained on staff after former coach Chip Kelly left for the NFL.
“I have to give a huge thank you to the assistant coaches” said Helfrich. “This was a team effort by everyone, including the community,…they really made a huge impression on these guys in making them want to come here to Oregon.”
What seemed to make a significant difference in the recruiting success for Helfrich was his decision to take his assistant coaches on what he described as a ‘world tour’.
When Kelly left the program for another job, speculation grew that his departure would have a deep effect on recruits coming to Eugene. To ease the minds of those recruits, Helfrich and his band of veteran coaches went into the living rooms of recruits and their parents as a showing of solidarity.
“It was well received” explained Helfrich. “When there’s eight guys that have been here the last four years that are staying here, that’s impactful on a young man or his family.”
In regards to Kelly’s departure and what effect it may have had on recruits, Helfrich said that’s part of the business of college football.
“It happens” said Helfrich. ”I don’t know how much concern there was ( on recruits ). I don’t know what degree we had to convince them. We have eight coaches here to squelch those concerns. This program is what it is for a lot of reasons,…and not just one person.”
In the upcoming season, the Ducks will be forced to address the lack of depth at linebacker and offensive line due in large part to graduation and injuries. Helfrich explained those needs were a priority in this recruiting class and feels those needs were addressed.
Oregon received five letters of intent from highly regarded offensive lineman led by Cameron Hunt ( 6’4 – 265 ) from Centennial High School in Corona California. Hunt had previously commited to Cal, but changed his mind at the last moment giving the Ducks one of their two big steals of the day.
“Cameron Hunt is a fantastic offensive lineman” said Helfich when asked to describe the 4-star athlete. “He’s a road grader,…he’s fast, physical,…he’s a polished player.”
Another steal the Ducks secured on signing day was 4-star defensive end Torrodney Prevot.
Prevot, a 6’4 – 214 pound pass rusher, originally commited to USC, but softened on the Trojans and pointed his recent attention toward Texas A&M. But in the end, Prevot chose the Ducks which most certainly brought a smile to Helfrich and defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti.
“Torrodney can really run and hit the quarterback” said Helfrich when asked to describe Prevot’s skill set. “He’ll fill the role of a Dion Jordan. He’s fast, physical,…a great tackler,..great finisher,..forces a lot of fumbles and causes havoc.”
When asked to describe Prevot’s recruiting process, Helfrich said his family and friends played a significant role.
“He had a bunch of people in one corner,…and others in the other corner” explained Helfrich when describing friends and family who were split on where Prevot should attend school.
“He just felt more comfortable here. We showed him the roadmap,…and we’re happy he decided to take it.”
The Ducks received 18 of their letters of intent from high school seniors, while the 19th came from the junior college level.
According to Helfrich, there’s no official word if any of the high school seniors will enroll early to participate in spring drills.
Helfrich also explained the football program has two remaining scholarships, however they’re not expecting to offer those scholarships to specific or targeted players in the near future.