-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
Athlon Sports continues its Class of 2011 national team recruiting rankings today with the No. 10 class in the nation.
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10. Oregon Ducks (23 signees – 3 AC100)
There may not be a single team in the nation that has elevated its national “recruiting stock” more in the last decade than the Ducks. Certainly, having great people in place is key – and a few shekels from Phil Knight hasn’t hurt either – but this team was not recruiting at this level just eight to ten years ago.
The Ducks’ new clout was no more apparent than on NSD when longtime USC verbal DeAnthony Thomas switched to Oregon. Thomas, who is technically listed as an athlete, was most likely headed to the defensive secondary at USC. Oregon, and its wide open spread rushing attack, is a perfect fit for "The Black Mamba's" homerun ability. Chip Kelly promising to use him on offense might have been the final straw that pushed Thomas to Eugene (or he simply needed to leave SoCal).
Of the seven nationally rated recruits in this class, only one came from in-state and only two hail from California. Chip Kelly used eight total states including Arizona, Texas, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Hawaii, California, Florida and Oregon to pull talent.
With four wideouts, two running backs and a trio of versatile athletes, Kelly’s dynamic fast-paced offensive attack is well-stocked with future stars. Thomas and wideout Devon Blackmon are open-field dynamos who are virtually impossible to stop in space.
It will be interesting to see where AC100 athlete Colt Lyerla lands. Tight end, defensive end, outside linebacker, wide receiver and H-back are all in the mix – a good problem to have with a 6’5”, 230-pounder. Oregon currently lists him at wide receiver, and his athleticism might be too much to keep off the offense. Yet, his skills seem perfect for the defensive side of the ball.
Defenders Anthony Wallace (LB), Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (CB) and Lake Koa-Ka'ai (DE) lead what should be a adequate class on defense. The only concern might be depth and size along the line, especially if Lyerla plays on offense. Koa-Ka'ai is one of only three D-line recruits. Junior college nose guard Jared Ebert is the only tackle in this group. Eventually, Kelly will need to address the interior of his defensive line. Wallace has a chance to be a special player and leads a linebackering group that is the strength of this defensive class.
Needs at offensive line were met with nationally rated Andre Yreretagoyena and four other talented big bodies. Tight end Christian French is one of the better tight end prospects in the nation. However, the Ducks might be so deep at the skill spots, he may find a home elsewhere.
Overall, this top-ten class is headlined by big-play threats on the offense and sideline-to-sideline tacklers at linebacker.
No. 5 DeAnthony Thomas, ATH (Los Angeles, Calif.)
No. 39 Colt Lyerla, ATH (Hillsboro, Ore.)
No. 58 Devon Blackmon, WR (Fontana, Calif.)
No. 117 Andre Yruretagoyena, OL (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
No. 122 Christian French, ATH (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
No. 126 Anthony Wallace, LB (Dallas, Texas)
No. 136 Tacoi Sumler, WR (Miami, Fla.)