The positive aspect of the new early signing period, which started today and ends Friday, is that programs such as Oregon are able to lockdown recruits well in advance of the Feb. 7 National Signing Day.
The negative side of the new early signing period is that players that don't sign by Friday will most certainly create anxiety for programs regarding their true level of commitment.
If you're truly committed to a program, why not sign ASAP?
With these thoughts in mind, it's safe to say that today was a good one for Oregon. The Ducks received signatures from 13 out of 20 committed recruits. That's a great start especially considering the turmoil the team went through following the departure of former coach Willie Taggart to Florida State and the team's lackluster performance on Dec. 16 during a 38-28 loss to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
"I'm really excited," Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. "We're really happy about the results. But I want to emphasize that this is kind of the halfway point."
If the Ducks can double what they did today then all well be right in Eugene after taking a brutal hit in recruiting following Taggart leaving.
Of the 13 players signed, seven were ranked as four-star recruits by 247Sports.com and six on Rivals.com. That's well below the 17 four-star recruits the Ducks had committed before Taggart left.
At that time, Oregon's class ranked No. 1 on Scout.com (since merged with 247Sports) and No. 5 on Rivals.com. As of Wednesday night, Oregon's class was ranked 11th on Rivals and No. 13 on 247Sports.
That's still very good for Oregon, which has had just one top 10 recruiting class since such things were tracked.
But much of the class' ranking is due to volume while other high-end programs are lurking in the shadows ready to potentially race past Oregon in the rankings.
The Ducks' average star ranking is now 3.4 for their 20 commits. That average ranks 19th on Rivals.com. Power recruiting programs that could still move ahead of Oregon are No. 12 LSU (3.45 average), No. 16 Michigan (3.32), No. 22 Florida (3.6), No. 28 Tennessee (3.5), No 34 USC (4.0), No. 43 UCLA (3.64) and No. 51 Florida State (3.89), which now has Taggart guiding the ship.
The Ducks could need a few more four-star signees in order to fend off at least some of these programs.
A huge loss for Oregon was defensive end Malcolm Lamar out of Seffner, Fla. He decommitted soon after Taggart left Oregon. Two other Florida recruits also bailed on the Ducks hurting their class ranking.
But, in the end, these rankings only mean so much. We've all seen enough high-end recruits flame out at Oregon to know that these rankings only go so far. The bottom line is that if Oregon can keep this class within the top 15. That would be a huge deal for a program that has seen so much flux in the last 12 months.
What matters most is the young man who leads the list of Oregon's signees and that's four-star quarterback Tyler Shough (Chandler, Ariz.), the No. 5-rated pro-style quarterback in the nation. Oregon must hit on him or trouble is not too far off.
Shough will compete with freshman Braxton Burmeister for the backup job next season. Should Shough win the job, expect Burmeister to transfer sooner rather than later. Starter Justin Herbert is academically driven, which means he could stick around through 2019. But should he instead enter the 2019 NFL Draft, the Ducks will need either Shough or Burmeister to deliver or they will certainly face a potentially poor season.
If the Ducks hit on Shough, or develop Burmeister, the rest of the class will fall into place and prove talented enough to win.
So, regardless of where the Ducks end up ranked when this is all said and done, just remember that all of the four-star athletes in the world won't matter if the quarterback position isn't locked down.
For more on the signees, visit the following link.