The Oregon Ducks football 2011 recruiting class just may be the greatest class in the history of the program. Whether it’s offense or defense, the Ducks found stars across the board who have dominated the college football landscape.
The Stars of the 2011 Oregon Ducks Football Recruiting Class
Mariota is clearly the crown jewel of the 2011 class. Despite being a two-star recruit by ESPN and spending most of his high school career as a second-string, Mariota has come in and has the Ducks primed for their best chance at a national title in school history.
After sitting out his first season while redshirting, Mariota lit up the Pac-12 to first-team All-Conference honors as a freshman in 2012. Mariota finished the year 230-of-336 for 2,677 yards passing, with 32 touchdowns to just six interceptions to go along with 752 yards rushing.
His 163.2 QB rating was one of the best in the country and was good enough to get him some major Heisman consideration. However, 2013 figures to be Mariota’s best shot at bringing home some serious hardware.
The Hawaii native is on essentially every preseason watch list for his position. And with the Ducks primed for a potential national title season, there’s no reason to think he won’t have every chance to be the first ever Duck to win the Heisman.
If Mariota is the best player form the 2013 class, DAT isn’t far behind. Thomas, despite not being a starter, has an incredibly strong chance to be a Heisman finalist as well.
Thomas stepped into the spotlight as a true freshman in 2011 against LSU. After his less than stellar opening performance he’s gone on to be one college football’s premiere players. Thomas has 3,992 total yards through two seasons. What makes Thomas so unique is the way he’s done it on the ground, through the air and on special teams.
The Black Mamba has improved upon his fumbling issues that plagued him as a freshman. If he can hold onto the football, he’s one of the best weapons on the Oregon roster.
Thomas is valuable on offense, but his damage on special teams is what makes him elite. Even when he doesn’t get the ball, he forces teams to kick away from him and surrender field position.
While not as dominating in the stats books as the Black Momba and Flyin’ Hawaiian, Lyerla has shown just how physically intimidating he is.
Through two seasons, Lylera only has 616 yards and 12 total touchdowns, but 2013 may be his breakout season.
There have been rumors and speculations that this may be Lyerla’s last season in Eugene before taking his talents to the NFL. Lyerla has denied any such reports and says that he will weigh his options after next season.
Regardless of how long he’s here, Lyerala is one hell of an athlete and was quite the pickup for the Ducks.
Ekpre-Olomu may just be the best cornerback in college football and the second-best may be his partner in crime, Terrance Mitchell.
The tandem corners have been frustrating quarterbacks for the past two seasons and will enter their junior seasons ready to become household names.
Ekpre-Olomu started all 14 games for the Ducks at RC last season, finishing the year with four interceptions with 54 yards returned and one for a touchdowns. He also recorded 63 tackles (44 solo, 19 assisted) along with six forced fumbles.
Going into the 2013 season, Ekpre-Olomu has a strong shot at earning All-American honors.
As a junior, he’ll be eligible to enter the 2014 NFL Draft should he choose to leave a year early.
After redshirting his first season in Eugene, Johnstone has quickly become a pillar of the Oregon Ducks offensive line.
Johnstone started all 14 games at LT for the Ducks last season. He and center Hroniss Grasu were the only two o-linemen to start every game.
Like Mariota, Johnstone is eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft despite his sophomore standing. NFL rules require a player be three years removed from high school, meaning that a player who redshirted can leave after his sophomore year.
Johnstone is one of the top linemen in the Pac-12 and could very well leave after this season.
Ducks fans, of course, would love to see him stay at least one or two more years.
Of course, this list doesn’t even include the countless other Ducks from the 2011 class about to see their respective careers erupt this season. Here are the guys who could have been included:
- Jake Fisher
- B.J. Kelley
- Tyson Coleman
- Andre Yruretagoyena
- Christian French
- Rodney Hardrick
- Lake Koa-Ka’ai
To put it simply, the 2011 Oregon Ducks football recruiting class was pretty decent. At least 10 of these guys could be playing on Sundays.