The Big Ten school credited for having the best early National Signing Day class for 2024 wasn’t Ohio State. Nor was it the conference’s lone College Football Playoff representative, Michigan. Instead, the highest-rated Big Ten recruiting class for this cycle is a team soon to compete against both, plus the rest of the conference, for the first time: The Oregon Ducks.
Eugene, Oregon, is the home of the nation’s highest-rated Big Ten recruiting class per 247Sports. The final Pac-12 runner-up ever not only locked in 30 signings but flipped a notable recruit who appeared set on heading to the Buckeyes.
Their recruiting prowess on this day now raises the burning question: Can they compete early immediately in the new conference surroundings through this class?
Who Oregon Flipped Before the Signing Day Papers Got Faxed
Head coach Dan Lanning and his coaching staff worked their recruiting mettle in swinging notable prized prospects over to the Ducks. And that was before those players faxed in their National Signing Day letter Wednesday.
Elijah Rushing was the first to be swung to Eugene before NSD. Arizona’s five-star EDGE and state’s top prospect went from a high-powered in-state commit for Arizona to turning to Oregon. In the process, the Ducks officially landed one of two five-stars next to defensive line commit Aydin Breland.
On NSD, Oregon dipped into Long Beach to swoop up longtime USC commit Ryan Pellum at wide receiver. In the process, Pellum chooses the Ducks when the Trojans undergo sudden roster changes — with notable prized transfer additions returning to the portal.
Did the mounting roster tensions in the Land of Troy help Pellum’s decision to flip to Oregon? The Millikan High standout and four-star told Luca Evans of the OC Register that the former top recruits defecting from the program “had a little bit of a factor” in choosing the Ducks over USC.
But there’s one more swing Oregon took that involved changing the mind of a top Ohio State commit. Once positioned to take over for Heisman Trophy finalist Marvin Harrison Jr., Jeremiah McClellan got siphoned away from Columbus and signed with Oregon.
Sure, flips are common across America on signing day. Oregon, however, sent the early message to the Big Ten that early verbal commitments aren’t safe from the Ducks’ flipping attempts.
But Oregon wasn’t just causing online stirs with its pursuit of changing the minds of high school seniors. The Ducks were flocking to the transfer portal too, including swiping a former prized five-star commitment in the L.A. region.
Ducks Show Might in Transfer Portal on NSD
The first Big Ten Ducks team isn’t just building through swooping up prized 17 to 18-year-olds. They attacked the portal hard, too, including snatching a former five-star.
Dante Moore goes from prized UCLA signing to trekking to Eugene. Moore heads to a place known for making great use of dual-threat passers…a la Bo Nix, Vernon Adams, and Marcus Mariota.
Oregon, though, added to its QB depth before Moore in Oklahoma’s Dillon Gabriel — who also starred for Central Florida.
Then there’s Kobe Savage on board for the defense, who last lined up at safety for Kansas State. And he’s coming over as a past Jim Thorpe watchlist candidate.
Is Oregon Already Loaded for the Big Ten Rigors?
The Ducks certainly loaded up for the Big Ten.
But Oregon proved they’re not afraid to go toe-to-toe with the best in the Big Ten on an important CFB date. They also continued to prove USC and UCLA verbal commits aren’t safe bets to remain committed to their schools the moment the Ducks start lurking.
There’s no better way to send an early message to your new opponents than by seizing away some top recruits. To further boost, Oregon managed to keep Moore in the conference, proving portal entries aren’t guaranteed to head outside their conference.
The Ducks will be able to prove they’re Big Ten ready when the calendar flips to October, and Michigan State and Ohio State pull up to Autzen Stadium.
But they dominated their opportunity to pull off the conference’s best recruiting class without even playing a down in a Big Ten Conference game. They sent out the first early warning to the rest of the Big Ten that they were using this realm to build and conquer.
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