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The Latest With Oregon and Elite 2023 WR Johntay Cook II

Can the Ducks carry their Texas momentum from the 2022 cycle into 2023?

Oregon's 2022 recruiting class is among the best in the country and has been fueled in large part by five verbal commitments in the state of Texas, headlined by SI99 offensive tackle Kelvin Banks from Summer Creek High School in the Houston area. But the Ducks are far from finished in Texas, and a reestablished pipeline could help them in their pursuit of 2023 DeSoto wide receiver Johntay Cook, an early Adidas All-American Bowl selection.

Ducks Digest caught up with Cook in his native Texas for the latest in his recruitment. 

With more than 30 offers to his name as just a junior, Cook has been hearing from a select group more than others. 

"Texas, USC, Texas A&M, Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, Florida and LSU," he said of schools communicating with him the most. 

Cook released a top 12 back in September, and included the Ducks among the likes of some major powerhouse programs.

Why did the Ducks make the cut?

"They playing good this year, putting the ball in the air," he said of the program. "Coach B (Bryan McClendon), we got a pretty good relationship and maybe I could someday be an Oregon Duck."

McClendon was in Texas last month to check in on Ducks commit and fellow Eagles wide receiver Stephon Johnson Jr. during the team's game against Duncanville, and it sounds like the two have hit things off early in his recruitment. 

"He pretty cool, he a real cool dude. He’s like a young soul, it’s almost like he could be one of my friends," the 6', 175-pound prep said of Oregon's wide receivers coach. "I really like that for him to be my coach because he very understanding and he can relate to us. He knows what he’s talking about when it comes to football too so that’s good."

A strong relationship with what would be his future position coach is one of multiple factors giving Oregon some momentum in what's sure to be a heated battle until the very end. The Ducks' week 2 win in Columbus over Ohio State has also left a lasting impression.

"It actually shocked me I’m not even gonna lie. I did not think Oregon was gonna beat Ohio State, so when they won it opened my eyes and I was like well, they for real."

I asked Johnson what he thought the Ohio State win would mean for Oregon on the recruiting trail, and he echoed the same sentiment.

"For the recruits that are getting recruited by Oregon, it make you really want to look into the school more because we beat a team like Ohio State, so it just changes everything for a lot of people," Johnson said of the win. 

With a teammate committed to Oregon, is Cook hearing from Johnson much about the Ducks?

"He is here and there, but it’s not like no strong recruiting push. My recruiting is nowhere near over."

Though his recruitment is far from over, he's been about as busy as you can be on the recruiting trail taking visits since things opened up in June. 

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"I went to Texas twice. Texas A&M twice. Went to Alabama. Went to Baylor, went to Oklahoma and I believe TCU," Cook said.

With so many visits being taken close to home, a few programs could be starting to separate themselves from the rest due to strong visits from the respective coaching staffs.

"Texas A&M was pretty fun. I liked it down there," he said of his trip to College Station. And the big one Alabama, that was big, you know Alabama is Alabama regardless of what happens."

The Aggies aren't the only school in the Lone Star State making a strong push, as Cook took in the Texas game in Austin over the weekend following DeSoto's 45-0 win over Cedar Hill. He offered his thoughts on what stands out about Texas.

"Believe in Sark. All gas no brakes. People talking about their losses, but real football players watch within the game," he said. "What you see is maybe not what it is. The play calling is outta this world, it just needs the playmakers to make the plays."

Cook could be one of the pieces to the puzzle for Sarkisian's offense which has impressed in his first year as head coach.

"It’s unbelievable how Coach Sark draws up those plays and how he gets those dudes open. Sometimes, maybe you not as open as you thought you would be so you really don't have the playmaking ability to make the play, as needed. So I feel like once Coach Sark gets the playmakers that he wants, like he had at Alabama, Texas is gonna be on top."

Looking ahead, he has a trio of visits he's trying to take.

"I was gonna go to Ole Miss on the 23rd (of October). I was gonna go to Texas A&M vs. Auburn on November 6. I was gonna try to catch a night game at LSU."

It sounds like the Ducks have some work to do here, but they're clearly in a good spot early on.  

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