Mario Cristobal’s first few weeks on the job were chaotic after being named Oregon’s football coach on Dec. 8, 2017.
“Chaotic might be the understatement of the year,” Cristobal said after a recent bowl practice. “One day we’ll all sit down, and I’ll give you a minute by minute chronicle of what that was like.”
Eight days after officially being hired as Florida State-bound Willie Taggart’s replacement, Cristobal made his Oregon coaching debut at the Las Vegas Bowl.
Four days after the loss to Boise State, Cristobal introduced the bulk of what ended up being the nation’s No. 13-ranked recruiting class during the new early signing period.
While the Las Vegas Bowl between Arizona State and Fresno State was being contested last Saturday, Oregon was hosting a gaggle of elite prospects on campus.
During a luncheon with the recruits and their families, five-star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux — ESPN’s top-ranked prospect in the 2019 class — verbally committed to the Ducks live on ESPN.
Four-star defensive linemen Keyon Ware-Hudson, Mase Funa and Sua’ava Poti had previously announced their intentions to join the Ducks.
“They’ve got some good guys coming in,” senior outside linebacker Justin Hollins said. “I see a lot of potential, I see a lot of good athletes. That’s what we like.
“They’re highly recruited, and I think they’ll live up to the hype.”
Entering Wednesday’s early signing period, Oregon has 20 verbal commitments in a historic class ranked No. 5 nationally. The program’s highest-ranked class during the modern recruiting era was Chip Kelly’s 2009 group, which was ranked No. 9 by Rivals.
Ten of the players are from California. In addition to the touted #CaliFlock, the Ducks have landed recruits from Florida (two), Alabama, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.
Sheldon High tight end Patrick Herbert is the only in-state player expected to sign with Oregon. It’s still unclear if he will catch any passes from his older brother, quarterback Justin Herbert, who could leave for the NFL after the Redbox Bowl.
The Ducks’ 2019 quarterback recruit, Cale Millen of Snoqualmie, Wash., plans to enroll in January to begin workouts with his new teammates.
“We’ve got a lot of talent coming, and I think we can win a lot of games with this class,” said Millen, whose father Hugh Millen played quarterback for Washington and for 11 years in the NFL. “I’m really excited to get to work.”
Cristobal and his staff have mixed in four practices for the Dec. 31 matchup with Michigan State at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
But as the old coaching cliche goes: Recruiting never stops. Recruits who don’t sign during the early period can still do so on Feb. 6.
“Traveling just a little bit, yeah,” defensive line coach Joe Salave’a said. “It becomes a blur after a little while, but it is a necessity, and you have to stay ahead of the pack.”