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Defensive monsters, skilled weapons, big men in the trenches: How Oregon’s 2020 class is filling needs

Defensive monsters, skilled weapons, big men in the trenches: How Oregon’s 2020 class is filling needs

Oregon’s 2020 recruiting class is taking shape and it is already making history. A step back reveals the bigger picture, Oregon coach Mario Cristobal’s recruiting prowess is tangible and thriving. In Oregon’s graduating senior class, the Ducks will lose quarterback Justin Herbert, linebacker Troy Dye and four starting offensive linemen. This special group of seniors are leaving the future of Oregon football in the hands of upcoming leaders, while the incoming freshmen, who Cristobal referenced as "game changers", will bolster the roster .

The secret sauce is being real. We have a tremendous passion for the University of Oregon. We all feel, without a shred of doubt, that this is the best place in the entire country. - Mario Cristobal

With the 2020 class (which isn’t completely settled until February), Cristobal filled needs on the roster with skilled weapons, defensive monsters and big men in the trenches.

Skilled Weapons

Quarterback

Justin Herbert will play his last game as a Duck in the Rose Bowl vs. Wisconsin. Herbert’s likely heir could be redshirt freshman Tyler Shough, who has flashed his skill and talent from the Spring Game to the Nevada game and beyond as Oregon’s back-up. However, having some competition (also add freshman Cale Millen) for the starting role is ideal. Whoever Iearns QB1 status will face Ohio State in Oregon’s second game of the 2020 season.

Enter four-star pro-style quarterback Jay Butterfield. Butterfield is the highest-ranked quarterback to commit to the Ducks since Kellen Clemens in 2003 and the Pac-12 highest-rated quarterback commitment in the 2020 class. The No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the nation is 6-foot-6, 202-pounds and Cristobal called him, 

One of the better players in the country.

According to Cristobal, Butterfield is enrolling early and the competition will be open for what he expects will be intense spring practices. Butterfield could push Shough for the job, or possibly win it. If he doesn’t, the two-year difference is large enough that Butterfield could be groomed to take over after Shough. Oregon also added the No. 10 dual-threat quarterback in the nation, Robby Ashford.

Receiver

Oregon keeps all of its starting wide receivers except for grad-transfer Juwan Johnson, so landing four-star receiver Kris Hutson is a bonus. Hutson committed to Oregon on the morning of the spring game after being being committed to USC, originially.

The Bellflower (Cal.) St. John Bosco High School wide receiver will instantly add to Oregon’s depth at receiver with a chance to contribute right away. He's 5-foot-11, 175-pounds and is a talented receiver who displays excellent route running abilities as Oregon’s top-rated receiver from the 2020 class.

Defensive Monsters

Linebacker

The Ducks’ leading tackler for the past three seasons, inside linebacker Troy Dye, is headed for the NFL and it appears UO has found worthy candidates to fill the void left by him. Oregon also loses senior Bryson Young to graduation.

Enter two five-star inside linebackers, Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell. Both commits are among the top-10 recruits in Oregon football history, coming together for a scary (at least) three seasons together. Also, Oregon added three-star linebacker Jackson LaDuke.

I’ve never been around a caliber of linebacking class like that. Their block-destruction capabilities are phenomenal. These guys are game changers. - Mario Cristobal

Watching how defensive coordinator Andy Avalos pairs Flowe and Sewell with an already dominating front seven, plus defensive end Kayvon Thibodeax (2019’s No. 1 recruit who is breaking records

and wreaking havoc) will be prime time college football.

Oregon has landed three (Thibodeaux, Flowe, Sewell) five-star defensive players in back-to-back classes for the first time ever.

Sewell could earn a starting spot instantly, much like his older brother Penei Sewell, who earned the starting left tackle spot as a freshman. Noah Sewell’s obvious athleticism for his size already projects him as an early NFL draft pick.

Flowe will also certainly threaten to start immediately. The relentless athlete is “one of the most physical football players to come out of California in years,” according to 247Sports evaluation. Flowe recorded 123 total tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, one interception, five forced fumbles and 13 quarterback hurries in his senior season.

Big men in the trenches

The Ducks will lose four offensive line starters at the end of this season. Shane Lemieux, Calvin Throckmorton, Jake Hanson, Dallas Warmack and Brady Aiello are leaving (literal) big shoes to fill as a dominant force up front that has attributed to much of the Ducks recent success.

Oregon added five new offensive linemen in 2020 to help fill the trenches. As a former offensive lineman, Cristobal made this a priority.

Trenches were addressed with size, length, explosiveness, recover-ability. -Cristobal

In Oregon’s 2020 class is: four-star offensive guard Jonathan Denis, three-star offensive guard T.J. Bass, three-star offensive tackle Jaylan Jeffers, three-star offensive guard Marcus Harper and three-star offensive tackle Faaope Laloulu.

The importance of adding to the offensive line depth cannot be overstated. Each of these five athletes walks into a prime situation to contribute right away. The strength of Bass, the size of Laloulu (390 pounds) and agility of Jeffers make those three very interesting prospects for the next season.

Cristobal has lived up to his reputation has an elite recruiter. Currently, Oregon is within striking distance of cracking the top-10 again. The 2020 class is ranked No. 16 by 247sports and No. 11 by Rivals, with a couple months before the classes are settled in February.

The second-year head coach led Oregon to sign the nation’s No. 13 class in 2018 according to 247Sports, just under two months after being named the head coach. A year later, Cristobal and his staff landed the highest-ranked class in program history at No. 6 by ESPN, marking the first time Oregon has ever had the top class in the Pac-12.

It appears the 2020 class is headed towards the same success, which is showing obvious dividends for the Pac-12 Champion Ducks as they prepare for their first Rose Bowl since 2014.