Oregon's 2023 recruiting class is the top ranked haul in the Pac-12. With talent like quarterback Dante Moore and wide receiver Jurrion Dickey as the headliners, there's still a big defensive need and that's linebacker.
One of their top options is Manteca (Calif.) linebacker Blake Nichelson. He has Oregon in his final three and made it out to Eugene this weekend for a last-minute trip before going public with his commitment on Tuesday.
"My game got cancelled last minute," Nichelson told Ducks Digest of why he made the trip. "The Oregon coaches invited me up there so I just decided with the opening that I would make it up there one last time before my decision."
Saturday's game was Nichelson's first at Autzen Stadium, and he was greeted by a roaring atmosphere of passionate Duck fans.
"The game in general stood out to me a lot because I'd never been to an actual game there, so just seeing the game day environment was cool."
Oregon's defense stifled what previously looked like an explosive and potent BYU offensive attack, which left a solid impression on the talented backer.
"It looked really great," he said of Dan Lanning and Tosh Lupoi's defense. "They kind of shut out BYU right there. Overall a great defensive look for them."
Defensive Coordinator Tosh Lupoi has separated himself as the lead recruiter for Oregon here, and he's built a strong relationship with the Northern California standout.
"Definitely a different process because he's always checking up on me and just all that stuff," Nichelson said. "I feel like with him I have just a great relationship."
The Ducks are clear contenders ahead of his decision, and he's enticed by the chance to fulfill a childhood dream by playing his college ball in Eugene.
"I feel like just--it's just like a childhood dream," he said. "As a child Oregon was definitely my favorite team, just having an opportunity to play there is just great."
There are two other schools that are still in the running here, one of which is Florida State, which has picked up a lot of steam in the summer, hosting Nichelson on both official and unofficial visits.
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"I have great relationships with them and I feel like that's very important throughout my recruiting process. Also I feel like they need linebackers from my knowledge at least, so I feel like that's another big thing."
In addition to feeling a need in Tallahassee, Mike Norvell has his team humming after a 3-0 start with wins over LSU and Louisville.
"I feel like it's definitely going a great direction right now considering their record and things are getting on track with them, they're doing pretty good this season," Nichelson said.
The final school left to discuss is the only in-state school left on the board, the UCLA Bruins.
"When I went up there it was just a great environment," he noted of his time in Westwood. "Super nice school and just everything and then along with Coach (Ken) Norton he's a cool guy and I have a pretty good relationship with him as well."
With just over 24 hours until his decision, Nichelson offered further detail on why he feels he's ready to make the call.
"I just feel like it's just great timing for me," he said. "I feel like I've visited all the places by now and it's just time to make a decision."
What will be the biggest factor heading into his decision?
"My relationship with the coaching staff to be honest because I want to go somewhere where I'm wanted."
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