While the Oregon Ducks coaching staff is hard at work recruiting the 2022 class, it's also doing substantial work building relationships with the class fo 2023.
Among those targets, few players are as impressive as four-star athlete Jayden Wayne who ranks as the second-best athlete in the 2023 class and 17th overall player nationally by 247Sports evaluation.
While those rankings will undergo heavy turnover over the next few years, the Tacoma, WA native has impressed at every turn and will almost certainly be one of the nation's premier recruits when he signs as early as December 2022.
In fact, Wayne was named the "Physical Freak" of the Pylon 7on7 Tournament by Rivals and was compared to Ducks edge rusher, Kayvon Thibodeaux, in the process.
"Lincoln who already looks like he could be playing college football At all of 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds," wrote Rivals recruiting analyst Adam Gorney.
"Wayne has no bad weight, he’s rocked up and he moves so well that athleticism or get-off will be no question over the coming years. On the hoof, he looks like Kayvon Thibodeaux looks right now - after two years of playing college football."
On Twitter, Wayne mentioned he was "honored" to be compared to his favorite player in Thibodeaux.
KT even responded to him, telling him to "elevate the standard," a phrase used often by Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal when discussing the building of the Ducks football program.
While Wayne has racked up offers from elite schools such as USC, LSU, Notre Dame, and more, Oregon was the first to offer him all the way back on July 27, 2019, after participating in the 2019 Saturday Night Live camp.
No other school offered him until Tenessee nearly a year later on May 5th, 2020.
That's a lot of time to build a relationship with one of the most sought-after players in the 2023 class. In fact, unlike many other 2023 recruits, Wayne has been on campus for a visit to Eugene, multiple times.
Having him idolize Thibodeaux doesn't hurt, either. It's one heck of a recruiting pitch to show the development of Thibodeaux while at Oregon, where he's entering his junior season a darkhorse Heisman candidate among national media members and a projected top-5 NFL Draft pick.
247Sports National Recruiting Editor Brandon Huffman projects Wayne as a Power-5 starter with a comparison of Chandler Jones.
"Wayne has the length and quickness to beat blockers off the ball and the explosiveness at the LOS to quickly get into the backfield," Huffman wrote in August 2020. "Needs to add strength and improve his arsenal of moves, with some work on his technique, but his raw athleticism, with continued development, could turn him into an elite pass rusher. Plays with good leverage and fires off the ball, and is stout in ability to disengage. Shows burst and ball skills when playing offense as well."