Top Oregon recruiting classes: No. 4

The Ducks have closed the books on the 2014 recruiting class and are well on their way for 2015. The 2014 class finished as the No. 27 class in the country, marking the fifth consecutive year Oregon has inked a top-30 class.

Obviously, rankings aren’t everything and each class and individual brings something different to the Ducks. So as we continue to prepare for Oregon’s spring season, we’re going to take a walk down memory lane and count down the top five Oregon recruiting classes.

No. 4: 2011 class

23 signees | Five ESPN 150 members

Five stars: 0 | Four stars: 9 | Three stars: 9

Top signee: No. 1 ATH De'Anthony Thomas

This was an incredibly impressive class and possibly one that most expected to see higher up the list, however, so much of this class will be based on its legacy. If the Ducks contend for the national title this season and earn themselves a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff, then perhaps they’ll jump a spot or two. But for now, this very impressive class will stick at No. 4 on the list.

The 2011 class was the most highly ranked recruiting class ever for the Ducks, at No. 14. However, what makes this group so interesting is that it is the less heralded recruits who’ve brought this team to prominence. Of the top five signees that year, only one is still with the team (left tackle Andre Yruretagoyena).

Meanwhile, a few four-stars down the list are the ones who ended up really panning out for this class. Wide receiver B.J. Kelley, linebacker Tyson Coleman, cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and linebacker Christian French will be significant for the Ducks this season.

Even more surprising, expected starters like quarterback Marcus Mariota, left tackle Tyler Johnstone and middle linebacker Rodney Hardrick were ranked as two- and three-stars coming out of high school. So while Thomas might have been the headliner of this class, it was certainly a group that brought a ton of talent into Eugene, specifically outside of the most talked about guys.

These Ducks can certainly secure their legacy this season. Plenty of guys will be considered for individual national awards, but as a whole, with so many pieces returning on both sides of the ball, Oregon will be tough to keep out of the upper-most echelon of college football this year. The early meeting with Michigan State will provide a good benchmark as it too has plenty of talent from the 2011 class to match up with the Ducks (Shilique Calhoun, Connor Cook, Trae Waynes).

The countdown: