Dontre Wilson is a Duck, and few can fault him for his choice.
The ESPN 150 athlete from DeSoto, Texas, is an absolutely ideal fit for Oregon’s offensive scheme. At 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, Wilson best fits in the college game as a spread running back who can also split out in the slot and find ways to get the ball in the open field.
Sounds familiar, right? That’s exactly what Oregon did last season with De'Anthony Thomas, a 5-foot-9, 173-pound back who scored 18 total touchdowns and earned Pac 12 co-offensive freshman of the year honors.
Wilson knew he needed to find a school with a unique plan for his talents, and Oregon wisely sold him on the results Thomas produced as a true freshman.
Texas coaches tried to do the same. They pointed to D.J. Monroe as an example of the role Wilson could play in the Longhorns’ offense. The only problem with that pitch? Monroe averaged less than four carries per game in 2011.
For Wilson, the only knock on Oregon early on was the more than 2,000-mile distance between Eugene, Oreg., and DeSoto.
A four-day visit to Oregon in March helped eliminate Wilson’s concerns about homesickness. It didn’t hurt that he spent most of those days with LaMichael James, a Heisman-finalist running back who successfully made the transition from living in Texarkana, Texas.
Oregon was the school to beat for Wilson’s pledge ever since that visit. Ohio State made a late push – another good football fit, as Urban Meyer thrived with small speed backs at Florida – and Wilson did attend Texas’ spring game. In the end, though, the opportunities Oregon offered were too good to turn down.
Missing out on Wilson is by no means a crushing blow to Texas’ recruiting class. In fact, Wilson is the first 2013 prospect to turn down a Texas offer and commit elsewhere.
Texas entered the 2013 recruiting game with a backfield of Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron and Johnathan Gray, and incoming freshman Daje Johnson will likely take a Monroe-type role as well. With Kyle Hicks (Arlington, Texas/Martin) already committed, Wilson was more of a luxury than a need.
Still, this is the first significant recruiting battle Texas has lost this spring. Mack Brown has preached that Texas needs to bring in more home-run threats on offense, and Wilson fits the bill.
Texas does not have any known offers out to other junior running backs. New targets could emerge, though landing another receiver or tight end is likely a greater offensive need for this 14-man class.
But don’t expect Texas to sever ties with Wilson. That’s something this coaching staff did not do last season, and it led to eight signees who were previously committed elsewhere.
There’s still more than 250 days before Wilson signs his letter of intent. A lot can change between now and national signing day.