With the 2021 season in full swing, the No. 3 Ducks are focused on winning both on and off the field. The staff is at work to not only defend their recruiting crown with the current 2022 class, but also look ahead into 2023, by bringing in blue-chip talent for visits.
One prospect that was recently in town to check out the Ducks during the Arizona game was 2023 quarterback Pierce Clarkson, from national powerhouse St. John Bosco in Bellflower, Calif.
Ducks Digest caught up with him to get the scoop on his visit and the latest in his recruitment.
After playing nearly the entire season without fans last year, Oregon is already seeing the benefits of a roaring Autzen Stadium, and that was certainly something that stood out to Clarkson during his time in Eugene.
"The atmosphere, it was crazy. It was probably one of my favorite parts about the whole trip," he said. "The fans, the energy, it was live. You could definitely feel the life in that stadium. The student section was definitely one of the best I’ve seen. It was an exciting environment to be in."
After watching Oregon take home the win against Arizona, Clarkson was able to spend time with players on the Ducks roster, including some familiar faces that once donned the same navy, white and Vegas gold he wears at Bosco.
"After the game I was able to catch up with Robby Ashford for a little bit, Kris Hutson, Sua'ava Poti. I got to catch up with some of those guys and just talk to them for a bit."
Unlike Hutson and Poti, Ashford doesn't call Southern California home, but there's already a long-standing relationship in place between him and the junior signal caller.
"During the COVID season Robby came out to L.A. and we did some workouts together," Clarkson said. "Our relationship started building then. I saw him a little before fall camp started, he came and worked out at Bosco. [He's] Definitely a guy I go to and look at him as a big brother."
Clarkson didn't spend extensive time with the coaching staff during the trip, but he got to catch up with Joe Moorhead following the game as they continue building a relationship. What's more, he likes the on-field product after seeing it in action first-hand.
"I love what Coach Moorhead has. He has a great offense. Personally, I feel like it fits my skillset to a T really well," he told Ducks Digest. "You have some read option, play action, some drop game. That’s kind of where my game’s at. I like to be able to execute at all phases of the game."
Following a strong visit, a return trip is already on the horizon.
"Oh yeah, definitely. I was actually looking to go out for another game already, November 27 for Oregon State. That’s when I plan on being out there, I just gotta set it up."
The Ducks are clearly in a solid spot here, but what's behind his eagerness to get back to Eugene?
"Really, after seeing the offense, being in the atmosphere, of course it draws you back," Clarkson said. "Plus, also the relationship I'm starting to build with Moorhead and the more I start to talk to the Oregon staff, the more I want to get out there."
He also told me he's also planning on setting up a phone call with Mario Cristobal later this week.
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The head coach sees a lot of room to grow on both sides of the ball.
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As is the case with most high-profile recruits, Oregon isn't the only school in pursuit. A trip to nearby UCLA this summer has the Bruins in good standing as well.
"I got to hang around at the practice and got to have a meeting with Coach Gundy (Ryan Gunderson) after. Me and him have built a pretty solid relationship so we’ll see how that goes."
What's got his attention about the program in Westwood?
"Really just how Coach Kelly has turned the program around," Clarkson said. "It’s a huge difference. Even from last year it's a huge difference. The environment, the culture, it’s special."
Moving forward, Clarkson plans on taking trips out to Arizona State the first weekend of October, and Louisville on November 7. He also plans on setting up trips to Virginia Tech and Arizona. He took trips to Louisville and Virginia Tech this summer after being offered in the spring.
As Clarkson works through the recruiting process, it doesn't sound like a decision is in the immediate future, though he knows good and well that schools prioritize landing a quarterback early.
"Of course being a quarterback I know it’s not uncommon to make an early decision, because as a quarterback you want to help recruit for the class and build something special. When the time’s right, I’ll know and that’s when I’ll make a decision."
According to Max Preps, through five games in 2021 Clarkson is 26 of 51 passing, throwing for 491 yards and eight touchdowns. He's also carried the ball 17 times to add 134 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground while playing on the same team as 2022 Michigan State commit Katin Houser, SI All-American's No. 14 ranked quarterback.
Clarkson and the No. 3 Braves take on No. 1 Mater Dei on Friday in a game that sold out almost instantly.
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