‘We’re not trying to trick guys;’ Dan Lanning focused on relationships over commitments this weekend
By all intents and purposes, the long list of high school recruits who will be in Eugene over the next few days to check out the Oregon Ducks’ annual spring game is the most talented and star-studded group of players that have ever been on campus at one time.
With a list of 5-star athletes that pushes double-digits, and a group of 4-star players that’s in the dozens, all eyes in the recruiting world will be on head coach Dan Lanning and the Ducks, seeing what they can do with such a robust group of blue-chippers on campus. While the recruits will be taking in the spring game, checking out the facilities, and getting a feel for what it’s like to be a Duck for the weekend, many fans and media members are going to wait and see what the potential ramifications are.
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Will Oregon land some commitments over the weekend or in the early days of May? It’s possible. According to Lanning, though, that’s not a prerequisite for this weekend to be deemed a success.
“We’re not used car salesmen. It’s not a sales pitch for us,” Lanning said on Tuesday. “Guys are going to jump on board when they’re ready to jump on board. This impact, everything matters, right? So this weekend could certainly impact that. But we’re not trying to trick guys to come to our campus.”
We’re relatively early in the 2024 recruiting cycle, and there are still seven months until the first signing day in college football. That means that regardless of the decisions that are made this weekend, Oregon still has time to recruit these kids and show them what their future would look like as a Duck.
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“When they’re ready to be Ducks, we’re excited about it,” Lanning said. “Does it mean we get a commitment? It very well could. Does it mean we might not? That’s okay. It’s a long, steady race and it’s a long way away from Signing Day. It’s about the overall experience for our guys. The overall relationships and connections that are built and then them seeing a product that they can be proud of and want to be a part of.”
Showing recruits something that they want to be a part of is arguably the main focus this weekend. The spring game has become an annual showcase over the years since Chip Kelly took over at Oregon. Tyson Alger with the I-5 Corridor put it perfectly earlier this week when writing about the spectacle that it’s grown into:
It just feels a little different the last few years. Maybe it’s the shifting priorities. Yes, everyone in the athletic department will be thrilled if all the fans in attendance Saturday have a good time. But making sure the bevy of 5-star recruits on the sidelines are having a blast has become more important.
In a marriage of those two ideas, it’s become increasingly apparent that the fans in attendance having a good time often leads to the recruits on the sideline leaving Eugene impressed with the overall environment.
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Autzen Stadium can be a raucous place when it’s packed with fanatics. When 40,000-plus show up for an inter-squad scrimmage in April, it’s not hard to show high school prospects the type of atmosphere you’re getting if you come to Eugene.
“I think this is a great example of how everybody here at Oregon needs to realize that they have an impact,” Lanning said. “We’re gonna have great players here on campus, but (fans) have an impact from what that experience looks like, right? They can help create that experience. From a fan standpoint, from an administrative standpoint, from our staff standpoint, we want to make that experience really unique and special for the guys that we have here on campus.”
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