Oregon won the Pac 12 last year but ultimately winning the conference title is not Mario Cristobal and his staff’s goal in Eugene. The third-year head coach has set his program’s sights on winning a National Championship.
With that, the 2021 recruiting class Cristobal and company are putting together are getting them one big step closer to challenging for that coveted Crystal Ball, the latest pledge coming from All-American wide receiver Dont’e Thornton.
Thornton adds to a class that is ranked No. 3 nationally by the 247Sports Composite, one that is tracking to finish atop the league standings for a third-straight cycle. It’s also on pace to be the second Top10 class over the last three cycles (No. 7 in 2019, No. 11 in 2020) as Oregon continues to climb the 247Sports Team Talent Composite Rankings (currently No. 12).
The talent level is rising inside the Ducks football facility, particularly at key positions. Sitting on 23 pledges, you could make a case Oregon has the best quarterback in the land committed in Ty Thompson, they’re certainly bringing in a bevy of playmakers at wide out and tight end, and this offensive line haul to date is one of the best at the point of attack in America too.
And the Ducks are not done yet. Cristobal is still cooking.
They certainly want to add a five-star defensive lineman in Korey Foreman or J.T. Tuimoloau to run alongside four-star Keanu Williams. They’re also battling for four-star defensive end Aaron Armitage along with Top247 cornerback Ceyair Wright who would finish a strong haul in the secondary. And of course there is coveted offensive lineman Bryce Foster who Cristobal has been on for years now.
The Pac 12 hasn’t competed for many National Championships over the last decade but when they have it’s been Oregon giving them the best chance, losing to Cam Newton and Auburn in the 2011 BCS National Championship game and Ezekiel Elliott and a slew of other future Ohio State pros in the 2015 title tilt.
Nobody else has really been close and we haven’t seen a head coach recruiter like this in the Pac 12 since Pete Carroll pushed the efforts on the trail for USC during their dynasty.
Cristobal knows what it’s supposed to look like winning two titles as a player at Miami and helping Alabama win one as an assistant coach. He knows the effort it takes from the top down in recruiting the best players you can get. And he knows it starts under center and the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Thompson is a promising prospect who shined at the Elite 11 Finals this summer and is rolling as a senior to the tune of 1,180 yards passing and 13 touchdowns in his first three games with zero interceptions. Thompson has tremendous arm talent and is evolving as a decision maker.
Then you protect Thompson with a brick wall and the group of Kingsley Suamataia (who many college programs behind the scenes considered elite), Bram Walden, Jackson Light and Jonah Miller give the Ducks four four-stars committed at the position.
Oregon is going to be tough to matchup with for years to come with the 6-foot-4 1/2, Thornton coming in alongside the five-star Troy Franklin. This is a big, fast, physical group of wide receivers (247Sports National analyst Greg Biggins says it’s the program’s best in the last decade) that also includes the 6-foot-4 Isaiah Brevard and 6-foot-1, 200-pound Kyron Ware-Hudson. Then you add in the two 6-foot-6 tight ends in Moliki Matavao and Terrance Ferguson and the possibilities seem endless for first-year offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead.
“I think there’s unlimited potential for us,” Thompson said. “We are bringing in a ridiculous amount of talent on both sides of the ball and I think it will be our class that brings home a National Championship.”
“I’m so excited to not only build this class with these guys, but play with them!” Light added. “They are incredible football players but most importantly great people.”
Light echoed Thompson’s sentiments regarding winning a national title.
“This class will be the most impactful at Oregon,” Light stated.