Oregon's defensive backs have had a strong year so far, but the Ducks are likely to be without Mykael Wright and Verone McKinley III in 2022. Wright has looked like a three-and-out player since his freshman year and McKinley is having perhaps his best season as a Duck.
As it goes, the staff is hard at work sharpening the on-field product for this season and looking ahead in recruiting. One defensive back they have prioritized early in the 2023 recruiting class is Caleb Presley from Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, Wash.
Presley is no stranger to Eugene and has serious interest in the Ducks after two visits in the past three months. DucksDigest caught up with him to get the latest on his recruitment.
Oregon has kept in constant communication with Presley since he visited in July for Saturday Night Live.
"Oregon, we’ve been checking in every week," he said. "Me and Coach (Rod) Chance have a great relationship. Me and Coach (Mario) Cristobal as well."
Presley said Chance is his primary recruiter and the two talked earlier this week as he's working on setting up another trip to Eugene after his visit for the Arizona game was cut short due to a family commitment.
"We’ve been talking a lot about coming down on another visit, most likely this fall," Presley said. "I know they’re taking my relationship seriously and I’m taking my relationship with them seriously."
"Just checking in on me, seeing how my day was going, practice. I’ve talked to him also about other things besides football."
That return trip to Eugene will likely come in late November or early December.
The high school talent in Washington State has continued to impress over recent recruiting cycles, and Chance has coached some of Oregon's best defensive backs in recent years including Wright, Thomas Graham Jr. and Deommodore Lenoir.
"Coach Chance is a real genuine person. He cares for his guys, cares for the kids in the community. He’s definitely looking out for the West Coast, getting a chance to tap back into Washington.
"I know he’s had his role recruiting some guys out of my state. He’s had my best interest since he started recruiting me my freshman year, we’ve built a great relationship."
The man in charge of the Ducks has also built a solid relationship with the highly-coveted junior cornerback. What stands out the most about Mario Cristobal is a common quality nearly all recruits touch on, and it's something you can't fake.
"Coach Cristobal, I just love his energy. His energy’s through the roof. He can be mellow and talk to you and have a calm conversation, but when it’s game time he’s almost like a WWE wrestler on that field.
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"We’ve gotten a chance to talk about life and going to school. He’s really big on family as well. He’s a very genuine person. They’re both two very genuine people who care about the players’ best interests."
Even though he's still early in his recruitment, the energy around the program, among other factors have left a lasting impression and helped keep Oregon in good standing.
"The Ducks’ squad fans, they came pretty deep," Presley recalled from his visit last month. "The culture that they built around the Ducks is amazing. Also just the big things coming out with the NIL contracts and working out your self branding and image and likeness. That’s a huge part.
"It's a lot of things to think about with Oregon. Of course they always have some of the best uniforms in the Pac-12. Oregon as a whole and as a university they have a lot of outlets of interest in my book."
The 6-foot, 185-pound cornerback is an early Adidas All-American selection and has taken recent trips to Oregon, Utah and his home state Washington to see games this season.
Taking a looking at his calendar, he'll be in East Lansing this weekend when the Spartans host the Michigan Wolverines, but he still has quite a few trips he'd like to take.
"Definitely wanna go check out Notre Dame, Alabama, Texas A&M, go see a little bit more of the SEC, probably see more of the Big Ten, probably pop out to a Cali school this season, more than likely USC or UCLA."
Presley told me he might release a top 15 soon, which shows he's determined to take his time in the recruiting process.
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