STUDIO CITY (CBS) – Travel 850 miles northwest of Downtown Los Angeles, primarily along I-5, and you will stumble on one of college football's top programs, the University of Oregon.
In three seasons under head coach Chip Kelly, the Ducks have appeared in two Rose Bowls and a BCS national title game, while posting a remarkable 25-2 record in conference.
Certainly the Ducks' program has burst into the national spotlight thanks in part to the Phil Knight-Nike connection and the never ending supply of uniform combinations, but Kelly has been remarkably successful at recruiting in Southern California.
"Something like 65 percent of our roster is from California. There are so many players in Southern California, it doesn't matter where you are, everyone is here recruiting California." Kelly said.
The front-runner to replace Darron Thomas at QB this season is former Crespi HS star Bryan Bennett, standing at 6'3, Bennett not only has great touch, but he has the speed to be the dual-threat QB required to run Oregon's sophisticated offense.
"One thing Chip has been able to do, as is the case with Bennett, is develop him, he redshirted a year, learned the system and had that thing going last year. " KCAL9/CBS2 recruiting analyst Rahshaun Haylock said.
"A lot of people thought he was actually a better fit for that system than Thomas, who was the starting QB at that time and many people believe Bennett is the reason Thomas decided to enter the NFL draft early."
On Tuesday, the Pac-12 media picked the Ducks to win the Pac-12 North division, in part due to their star playmakers Kenjon Barner (Notre Dame HS, Riverside) and De'Anthony Thomas (Crenshaw), who has found a huge role in the Oregon system.
"They use him in spaces where he is going to have success. You are talking about a guy who is as fast as they come." Haylock said. "To see his speed translate against other players, who are supposed to be just as fast, De'Anthony Thomas, the Black Mamba is on a whole different level." Haylock said.
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