Recruiting is the life blood of any program, and the Ducks sure have some momentum on the trail as we sit here in May. I think I speak for a lot of folks when I say I was surprised by how well Dan Lanning was able to recover with the 2022 class, signing Jahlil Florence, Josh Conerly Jr. and even getting Kyler Kasper to reclassify.
But now perhaps a bigger challenge awaits: one-upping himself in 2023. This next cycle will serve as his first full recruiting class as head coach and show us just how much firepower this coaching staff really has.
The Ducks have five commits in the fold and are in the top 25 following the addition of Ashton Cozart. Let's take a look at who I believe are the five most important recruits for Oregon in the 2023 class.
I want to be clear that just because a player is listed here doesn't mean that I necessarily think that Oregon will land them, but rather landing them is of the utmost importance. That being said, Oregon has a realistic shot with each of them.
Let's get into it.
QB Jaden Rashada (Pittsburg, CA)
Pittsburg quarterback Jaden Rashada poses with Dan Lanning on a visit to Oregon.
It's crucial for the Ducks to get a great quarterback in this class if they want to reach the heights they have their eyes on. There are some great options already on the roster, but the best teams don't get complacent, they keep bringing in elite talent year after year to push for the starting job.
And that's what Jaden Rashada is. Elite. He's the top uncommitted quarterback that Oregon has a reasonable chance with. Yes, Dante Moore is a great option, but it looks like Notre Dame has a solid handle on his recruitment and made him a priority from the moment Marcus Freeman was named head coach.
As for Rashada, it'd be great for the Ducks and great for the Pac-12 to keep the West Coast's best talent out west. The 5-star quarterback has set a commitment date for June 18 and will choose from a top seven of Oregon, Cal, Florida, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Next up for Oregon is ensuring they earn an official visit.
EDGE Matayo Uiagalelei (Bellflower, CA)
St. John Bosco defensive end Matayo Uiagalelei at Autzen Stadium on a rainy night in Eugene.
Matayo Uiagalelei has been on Oregon's radar since he burst onto the scene as a junior, dominating both sides of the ball for St. John Bosco. All the top teams have guys who can get after the quarterback and Uiagalelei is an elite talent in the trenches.
This is exactly the type of player that a recruiting duo like Dan Lanning and Tosh Lupoi would love to land, and a player you can build your defense around. He's also battle tested since he plays in arguably the toughest league in the country in Southern California's Trinity League.
Uiagalelei hasn't set a commitment date, but he looks to be focusing on five schools in Oregon, USC, Ohio State, Clemson and Alabama.
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EDGE Jayden Wayne (Tacoma, WA)
Jayden Wayne poses in the Autzen Stadium tunnel on a visit to Oregon.
A lot of the reasons I put for Uiagalelei could apply here. Wayne has the makings of a great talent off the edge, and he's garnered interest from just about every program in the country.
A top talent out of the Pacific Northwest, Wayne also has a longstanding relationship with the Ducks as a recruit. He's been to Oregon as much as any other school in his recruitment, but again, storied programs like Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Miami are giving chase right alongside the Ducks.
When there's a talent like him in nearby Washington, you do your best to capitalize. A dream scenario for the Ducks likely includes both Wayne and Uiagalelei.
TE Riley Williams (Portland, OR)
Central Catholic tight end Riley Williams sits on the throne during a visit to Oregon.
Sure, Oregon's tight end room might be the most loaded it's been in quite some time, but there's no reason it shouldn't get even better. Williams is one of the best tight ends in the country, and he's on pace to become the most highly-recruited player to ever come out of the state of Oregon.
That's not someone you let leave your state. Oregon is in a great spot here not only because his brother Korbin Williams played for the Ducks, but he's also scheduled an official visit to Eugene for June 24. Dan Lanning has sent a clear message to in-state players that this staff is prioritizing keeping the state's best talent home.
Rodrick Pleasant (Gardena, CA)
Serra cornerback Rodrick Plesant poses in a track stance during a visit to Oregon.
I went back and forth on this one between Pleasant and Caleb Presley from Rainier Beach in Seattle.
With USC loading up with top end skill talent, the Ducks are going to need a cornerback that can help keep up with the fastest and twitchiest wide receivers and running backs.
Pleasant broke the California state record for the 100 meters with a blazing time of 10.14. Speed is often touted as the trait you can't teach and he clearly has plenty of it.
Oregon could very likely end up going toe-to-toe with USC for his commitment, but Southern California native Demetrice Martin and a national powerhouse track program could certainly help the Ducks' chances. Getting Pleasant in the fold is key to showing the Ducks can still go in to Southern California and win those battles.
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