Oregon coach Mario Cristobal’s middle name might as well be “genuine”... it's how his team refers to him over and over again.
Cristobal came to Oregon in 2016 with a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the country, an instrumental piece to Alabama hauling in top prospects year after year. Oregon promoted Cristobal in 2017 to head coach with large recruiting expectations… and the 2015 National Recruiter of the Year has delivered.
UO has landed the program's highest-rated recruit in program history and highest-rated class ever AFTER a predictable 8-4 season, finishing 4th in the Pac-12 North, and winding at the Redbox Bowl… How?
Yes, Oregon is considered to be Nike University and has been for the last decade. Certainly, high schoolers love the Oregon Football brand and its facilities, but it’s Cristobal’s honest and welcoming approach that has made the difference.
Senior defensive end and first team All-Pac-12 selection Jalen Jelks has three head coaches during his time at Oregon. He recounts why Cristobal is special.
“He will text you in the middle of the day, ‘Hey how is it going? What’s your class schedule like?’ and then he will pop by and see you,” Jelks said. “Little stuff like that shows the kind of person he is and how much he really cares about you… He’s just a real genuine guy.”
While many draft-eligible players are deciding to forgo bowl games to focus on the 2019 NFL Draft, not only does Jelks want to play as a Duck one last time on December 31, he wishes he could return for another season under Cristobal.
Sophomore nose tackle Jordon Scott agreed that one of the biggest reasons recruits gravitate towards Cristobal is how much he cares about his players’ well-being off the field. Scott, who has started 22 consecutive games, told a story about the week leading up to Oregon’s upset victory over rival Washington.
“I had gotten a real bad stinger in practice and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play because I couldn’t really life my arm up,” Scott said. “(Cristobal) texted me, ‘Don’t worry about it. You’ll be fine’. I think that’s the biggest thing about him, he’s genuine and he knows that little things like that can really help us mentally.”
The Ducks expect their commitments to put ink to paper on during early signing period, which begins Wednesday. Oregon has never finished with a class ranked in the top 10 of the 247Sports team rankings. Currently, the Ducks have 20 commitments that have bought into Cristobal’s vision and shaped the No. 5 ranked 2019 class.
The top-rated high school player in the country, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, is proof that Cristobal and his staff can compete against the top programs in the country. Thibodeaux passed over Alabama, Florida and Florida State for Cristobal, the coach that Thibodeaux’s mom liked.
“Mario Cristobal is a great guy, my mom loves him, and he’s a God-fearing man,” Thibodeaux said during his selection. “He can take my game to the next level.”
The five-star recruit also said Cristobal talked to him about more than just football, expressing an enthusiasm in his other interests, which include journalism.
Mario “genuine” Cristobal, has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?