Alex Forsyth

How Oregon's recruits fit in: OL - New signees shouldn't be needed in 2017

How Oregon's recruits fit in: OL - New signees shouldn't be needed in 2017

Oregon coach Willie Taggart last week signed his first recruiting class, which Rivals.com ranked No. 18 in the nation. Now CSN is taking a look at how each new recruit could fit into the Ducks' plans next season.

Other entries: QuarterbacksRunning backs and Wide receivers/tight ends, defensive line, Linebackers, Defensive backs

Today: Offensive line.

New Ducks: Alex Forsyth (6-5, 310, West Linn H.S., West Linn), Popo Aumavae (6-4, 315, St. Mary's H.S., Stockton, Fla.), Cody Shear (6-4, 285, Sheldon H.S., Eugene) and George Moore (6-7, 308, Deer Valley H.S./College of San Mateo, Antioch, Calif.). 

Projected 2017 starters: Left tackle Tyrell Crosby, Sr., (6-5, 310), left guard Shane Lemieux, RSo., (6-6, 310), center Jake Hanson, RSo., (6-5, 295), right guard Brady Aiello, RSo., (6-7, 290), right tackle Calvin Throckmorton (6-6, 300). 

Key backups: Guard Jake Pisarcik, RSr. (6-2, 300), center Zach Okun, RSo., (6-4, 315), guard/center Doug Brenner, RSr., (6-2, 300), tackle Evan Voeller, RSr., (6-5, 295)

The situation: Oregon lost senior guard Cameron Hunt but will return senior left tackle Tyrell Crosby, who missed 10 games last year with a foot injury. He will join four redshirt freshmen, who carried the line last season. Redshirt senior Jake Pisarcik rounds out the top six linemen on the depth chart.

Another 10 returning linemen will compete for spots on the two-deep depth chart. That leaves little room for three freshmen and a junior college transfer to fit in. 

The verdict: All three true freshmen should redshirt for the future. It's possible that Moore, an ideal offensive tackle, would play his way into being a backup.

Next up: Defensive line. 

Oregon coach Willie Taggart and staff 'storm' state on recruiting tour

Oregon coach Willie Taggart and staff 'storm' state on recruiting tour

New Oregon coach Willie Taggart and several assistant coaches are making the recruiting rounds throughout the Portland area today in what they are calling a 'storm tour' designed to meet with high school football coaches and any players the Ducks are in the process of recruiting. 

"We don't know any of the coaches in the state so this is a chance to get out and meet them," Taggart said. "One thing I hate to hear is that there's not a lot of prospects in the state of Oregon. For me, the best players that can come help us, we want to get out and see them."

Taggart became Oregon's head coach on Dec. 7, more than a week after the Ducks fired Mark Helfrich following a 4-8 season. Taggart has assembled a strong coaching staff full of top-notch recruiters. But the group is lacking in the way of area recruiting ties. Schools on the coaches' radar today include Lake Oswego, Jesuit, Madison, Westview, Central Catholic, Clackamas, Oregon City, Sherwood, Tigard and Lakeridge. Taggart and his staff went on a similar tour on Jan. 12 around the Eugene area and the southern part of the state, including Medford. 

The state of Oregon is not know for producing a strong group of major college recruits on an annual basis, although the 2018 class is projected to be one of the deepest to come out of the state in some time. 

The Ducks primarily recruited the West Coast under Helfrich, Chip Kelly and Mike Bellotti. Under Bellotti, and later more so with Kelly, UO  began expanding east. Taggart said he will continue to heavily recruit the West Coast but the hope is that his staff can improve Oregon's success in the Southeast part of the country. Taggart came to Oregon from South Florida. New co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Mario Cristobal came to Oregon from Alabama. Other assistants also have recruiting connections across the country. The Ducks have already secured commitments from three players out of Florida.

That all said, Taggart said he wants to make sure his staff owns the state of Oregon.  

"We want to let the coaches know that we're going to be around and we're going to recruit the state, first and foremost," Taggart said. 

The Eugene tour included a police escort of four motorcycle patrolmen. Taggart said he wanted to make a statement and some noise. 

"We wanted to be noticed," he said. 

The plan that day included also going to Portland but a snowstorm closed local schools. So the Portland-are tour was postponed until today.

Oregon has traditionally done well with in-state recruiting. However, so far just one out of the top 10 recruits in the 2017 class have committed to UO. The Ducks have extended offers to six. Two of the top four recruits, defensive lineman Marlon Tuipulotu (Independence) and defensive back Elijah Molden (West Linn) have committed to rival Washington. 

West Linn offensive tackle Alex Forsyth committed to Oregon under Helfrich on has stated that he still plans to attend Oregon under Taggart.

While at South Florida, Taggart said he could recruit within a 60-mile radius to build his roster. That area was considered his in-state recruiting. Outside of that area he considered out-of-state, even though the span remained within the state of Florida. 

Oregon is the exact opposite. Oregon could never contend for a Pac-12 championship while relying solely on players in the Northwest, let alone the state of Oregon. But he said he at least wants to make sure that the Ducks don't overlook anyone. 

"We're not going to leave any stones unturned," Taggart said. 

That starts with building relationships with coaches.

"Instead of asking them to come to us," Taggart said. "We're going to them to try to get to know them, and to let them know that they are always welcome to visit UO."

The staff will hit as many high schools today as possible before returning to Eugene for a recruiting weekend that involves visits from several recruits. Taggart said Oregon had 25 official visits remaining to be used when he arrived. Many will be used this weekend. Some were used last weekend. The final weekend before National Signing Day on Feb. 1 will also involve several key visits. 

Taggart said his staff will individually recruit certain areas, unlike the former staff which moved to recruiting by position several years ago. Taggart said that position coaches will get involved later in the process but that he wants his staff to develop a consistent presence in certain areas, including the state of Oregon.

"We want to make sure we don't overlook the best in-state players," Taggart said. "We want to keep them in the state as Ducks."

Oregon OL recruit Alex Forsyth excited about Taggart, program's direction

Oregon OL recruit Alex Forsyth excited about Taggart, program's direction

West Linn High School senior offensive tackle Alex Forsyth committed to Oregon in June hoping to play for coach Mark Helfrich and offensive line coach Steve Greatwood. 

However, the developments over the past two weeks changed those plans. Helfrich was fired on Nov. 29 after a 4-8 season. Nine days later, the Ducks introduced Willie Taggart as the new head coach.

Forsyth said the program's rapid change of direction surprised him but never made him flinch on his commitment to the Ducks. 

A lifelong UO fan, Forsyth would likely still play in Eugene if The Oregon Duck mascot became head coach. That said, Forsyth is pleased that his disappointment over Helfrich's firing has been lessened by the excitement surrounding Taggart. 

“I think they hired someone who is very good and very qualified," Forsyth said of Taggart, who rebuilt programs at South Florida and Western Kentucky. “I just really liked his energy and the way he talked about having 'a great day if you want to.' He just seems like a great guy and a great recruiter. Great coach."

Taggart certainly lit up the room during his introductory press conference last Thursday at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex. He comes to Oregon with loads of potential but is unproven in a Power Five conference. 

Forsyth (6-foot-5 290-pounds) said that numerous reports about Helfrich's potential demise lessened the shock of the news when it happened. Still, he was surprised given all that Oregon had accomplished under Helfrich, and that the 2016 team experienced a lot of bad luck, including numerous injuries to key players and several close losses. 

“There was a lot of things that were very, very unfortunate that happened,” he said. 

Taggart is in the process of putting together his coaching staff and said that he would reach out to current assistants to see if they fit his future plans. Forsyth said he hopes to see Greatwood stick around. 

“It is a little disappointing knowing that he might not be there," Forsyth said of Greatwood. "I hope they keep him. But if they don’t it won't affect my commitment."

Forsyth, a four-star recruit and the top-rated player in the state according to Rivals.com, anchored West Linn's offensive line that helped lead the Lions to a 62-7 victory over Central Catholic in the 6A championship game on Dec. 3.  Also on that team was four-star defensive back Elijah Molden, whose father Alex Molden played for Oregon in the 1990s.

It was widely assumed Elijah Molden would follow in his father's foot steps, until he didn't. Molden on Nov. 12 committed to Washington, a development that reflected poorly on Helfrich and Oregon. Forsyth said his good friend's decision surprised him a bit but he understands Molden's reasoning. 

"It was a hard decision for him," Forsyth said. "He just saw a lot in all of the schools. I know it was a close decision for him....He wanted to blaze his own trail. Carve his own path.”

When Helfrich got fired, a few recruits decommitted from Oregon, knocking the team's class ranking from No. 23 to No. 43. It's now No. 42. 

"Some I could see coming," Forsyth said of the decommitts. "They really wanted to play for Helfrich."

Taggart will have his chance to bulk up the 2017 class. He has already flipped one recruit, athlete Darrian McNeal out of Florida. He had been committed to Arizona.  

Other UO commits, Forsyth has spoken with, have remained on board and are pumped up to play for Taggart. So is Forsyth, who believes the Ducks will rise again very soon.  

“I see that there’s going to be a turnaround," Forsyth said, "which is reassuring."