Monday, July 30, 2012

July 30, 2012
Throughout the month of July, Duck Sports Authority has looked back at previous classes and measuring the contributions of those signed on each side of the ball. We began with a look at the class of 2005. We first looked at the defense and then the offense. With each succeeding article, we moved forward towards the present. Along this journey back to recruits who have impacted the Duck program, we have seen players who would go on to become legendary to the program as well as some players who never quite filled the spots they were expected to fill. There were academic casualties, players that were projects who decided to leave and players that were just misses. There were also, of course, the plus side; players of whom little was expected that proved to be considerably better than Rivals had projected. Today, we move forward and finish our look at the first class that was truly Chip Kelly's class. His first as head coach of the Ducks; 2010. The 2010 recruiting class will be considered one of the best ever classes for the University of Oregon football team. Nevertheless, like all classes there were some hits, some misses, some hidden gems and players who were everything that Duck fans and coaches expected. We continue, by looking towards the offensive side of the ball where the Ducks signed 12 players. The one thing that has been true of Ducks recruiting with Chip Kelly as head coach; there have been no academic misses. Every player that has signed with the Ducks has made it into school. This trend begins with the 2010 class. WE will break down the offense in two groups. Today we will look at offensive linemen and tight ends while we look at the rest of the "skill" position players (quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and kicker) on Wednesday.
NamePositionStarsGames Started
Ryan Clanton

Impact: The junior college transfer from City College of San Francisco had three years to play two when he arrived in Eugene for Winter term 2010. Clanton took advantage of the first year in Eugene using 2010 to redshirt. Already the strongest offensive lineman on the team when he arrived, Clanton became one of the tope reserve linemen during his junior season in 2011 appearing in 12 games. With the departures of Darrion Weems and Mark Asper, Clanton will be in the running for a starting position along the line for the Ducks in 2012.
Hroniss Grasu

Impact:Grasu wasa very promising prospect upon his arrival. After a redshirt season in 2010, Grasu proved that the promise was not just potential. By the end of Fall camp in his freshman year he had earned a spot as the starting center for the Ducks. AS the season went along, it is a spot which he tightened his grasp on and never looked back. The 14 game starter was also, as a freshman, one of the stronger linemen on the team with the second best squat and second best power clean among all offensive linemen. Grasu was a second team freshman All-America and is on the watch list for the Rimington trophy heading into his sophomore season.
Drew Howell

Impact: Brought in as a specialist; a long snapper, Howell had just as much impact as any player on the team. The long snapper in every game which the Ducks punted in 2010, Howell provided steady sure snaps for Jackson Rice. He continued to hold down the position in 2011, helping the Ducks become one of the best net punting teams in the nation. Howell is considered by us as a starter given the importance of his role and the stability he has provided. He is expected to continue to fill that role for the Ducks in 2012.
Nick Rowland

Impact: After redshirting his freshman season in Eugene, Rowland was looking to make an impact heading into 2011. Unfortunately, Rowland began having complications from a femur injury sustained as a youth that led to his decision to retire from football.
Curtis White

Impact: White did not have to travel far when he became an Oregon Duck trading his Sheldon Irish Green for Duck green. After spending his first season injured and redshirting, the former high school All-America had hoped to begin making an impact as a redshirt freshman in 2011. With limited depth at the position, there was promise. Unfortunately a second missed season with injury led to White retiring from football as well.
Brandon Williams

Impact: A junior college transfer from Joliet Junior College in Illinois, Williams had 2 receptions for 48 yards during his junior season with the Ducks in 2010. Despite not making any receptions after the second game of the season, Williams actually saw his playing time increase as the season wore on. Williams, who was the strongest and fastest tight end on the roster heading into the 2011 season, was expected to take on a larger role for the Ducks during his senior campaign in 2011. A narrow spinal canal, discovered after the 2011 Spring game, a condition exacerbated by a bulging disc, led to Williams being forced to retire from football. Continued participation could have led to possible paralysis and other complications.


Games Started: 38/67 Impact:This class is a tale of two opposite sides of the football spectrum. On the one side, there are three offensive linemen who have and will continue to provide a major contribution to the Oregon Ducks. Hroniss Grasu started all 14 games as a freshman and does not look like he will relinquish control of his starting center spot. Drew Howell has had a major impact, albeit one disguised by his role as a long snapping specialist. Howell has been the starting long snapper on punts for 24 games during his first two seasons in Eugene. It is a role where the only notice he may receive is if he does something wrong, but a role he has filled well so far. Ryan Clanton was one of the top reserve linemen during his first season in Eugene and is projected by many to be a starter in 2012. If he does start, that means that all three offensive linemen who remain on the team from this class will be starters in 2012. That is quite an impact for those three players. Unfortunately, this class is also marked by three players who were forced to retire from the sport of football due to injuries. All three have expressed their desire to finish their degrees, but it is always difficult to watch young men be forced out of a game they had devoted their lives to. It is difficult to call someone who is forced into retirement a "miss," but the loss of these players, especially Williams and White, created some depth issues on the Duck roster in 2011. Look for the remaining three players to continue having a major impact.


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