The Ducks kicked off spring practice on Tuesday. It was the first official on-field activity for new head coach Mark Helfrich, and one of the big questions regarding the Helfrich era was answered when the first practice was closed to the public and media, just as it was under Chip Kelly.
One Ducks target was on hand to take in the first organized effort of the spring. QB Morgan Mahalak (Novato, Calif./Marin Catholic) is in Eugene on an unofficial visit to get a closeup of the program and spend some time with the coaching staff. It has become clear that despite never starting a high school game, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Mahalak is one of the Ducks' prime targets at QB in the Class of 2014.
Another Oregon QB target and a friend of Mahalak, QB Manny Wilkins (Novato, Calif./San Marin) will head to Texas this weekend to participate in the Elite 11 regional event. In what should be a loaded event, Wilkins hopes to show off his considerable skill. As recruiting heats up for the 6-3, 190-pound QB, Wilkins is making the rounds in order to see and be seen. He plans on visiting Oregon unofficially later this spring and is likely to attend the Ducks' camp this summer. Wilkins has not been shy about naming the Ducks as one of his top schools. With Clemson commit Deshaun Watson (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville) looking like a solid commit to the Tigers, the Ducks are well into the search for their next quarterback. It could come down to Mahalak and Wilkins.
OL Tyrell Crosby (Henderson, Nev./Green Valley) was in Utah this weekend to visit the Utes. The 6-4, 285-pound Crosby came away very impressed with what the Utes have to offer on and off the field. He has family in the area, and while Oregon could still be the team to beat, the Utes are certainly a legitimate contender for the fast-rising prospect. Crosby will be in Eugene in two weeks to get a look at everything the Ducks have to offer. He wants to major in business, and Oregon offers a great opportunity to shine on the field and in his desired field of study.
The Dallas weekend of the Nike Football Tour is on tap for this weekend. On Saturday, the Dallas Cowboys will host the Elite 11 at Valley Ranch, and the Nike SPARQ Combine will take place at Allen (Texas) High School on Saturday. On Sunday, the Nike Football Training Camp will also be at Allen (Texas) High School. The significance of the events in Texas is that for each of the past four years, the Ducks have signed at least one player from the Dallas leg of the Nike Camp season.
Will the Ducks sign another Texas product in the Class of 2014? This weekend should provide a glimpse into the talented prospects the Ducks' are in contact with so far in this recruiting cycle. Scheduled to be on hand are Oregon targets S Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron), DE Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/Martin), DB Arrion Springs (San Antonio, Texas/Roosevelt) and RB Vic Enwere (Sugar Land, Texas/Fort Hood Austin).
Running backs Demario Richard (Palmdale, Calif./Palmdale) and Royce Freeman (Imperial, Calif./Imperial) continue to make a push to show they should be as highly thought of as Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom), who is generally regarded as the top ball carrier on the west coast. The Ducks are one of a small group of top teams that has yet to offer Mixon, who hopes that offer will come when the Ducks visit him at school next month. Richard was offered by Cal on Tuesday, and Freeman continues to pick up steam on the recruiting front.