College football’s December signing period has taken most of the drama out of the traditional February event.
The hat choosing ceremonies and last-minute flipping have diminished.
Oregon signed 22 players on Dec. 19 as part of the program’s 2019 recruiting class, which is ranked seventh nationally by Rivals and 247Sports.
Coach Mario Cristobal’s initial recruiting press conference during this cycle was held a week before Justin Herbert announced his decision to return for his senior year and 12 days before the Ducks’ 7-6 win over Michigan State in the RedBox Bowl.
Six of the players, including five-star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, are already on campus taking classes and grinding through winter strength and conditioning workouts.
But there is still a chance Cristobal and his staff can add a marquee player or two during Wednesday’s signing day.
Three recruits verbally pledged to Oregon — defensive backs Jamal Hill and DJ James and offensive lineman Logan Sagapolu — are expected to be added to the haul.
The Ducks, who will have to replace NFL draft-bound Dillon Mitchell’s production, are also in the mix for Puka Nacua of Orem, Utah. The four-star wide receiver previously committed to USC but recently visited Oregon, UCLA and Washington.
“It’s pretty safe to say he’s not going to go to USC, even though he’s currently committed,” 247Sports’ Matt Prehm said of Nacua. “He’s probably going to go to Oregon or Washington.”
Cristobal is hoping Nacua will be a late addition capable of making an early splash, just as left tackle Penei Sewell did a year ago.
Nacua was named the most valuable player of the Polynesia Bowl in Honolulu last month after making a spectacular touchdown catch in the all-star game at Aloha Stadium.
Sagapolu committed to the Ducks during the Polynesia Bowl. However, the 6-foot-3, 340-pound center from Lehi, Utah, plans to go on a two-year Mormon mission and will not arrive at Oregon until 2021.
Hill is from Morrow, Ga., and projected as a safety. James is from Spanish Fort, Ala., and projected as a cornerback.
The pair of three-star recruits from SEC country join a class that includes defensive backs Mykael Wright and Trikweze Bridges.
Some other notable players in Oregon’s class that could get on the field in the fall include the nation’s No. 1 junior college prospect in offensive lineman Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu, the No. 2 overall all-purpose back in Sean Dollars and four-star wide receiver Mycah Pittman.
In addition to Thibodeaux and Aumavae-Laulu, linebackers Ge’mon Eaford and Dru Mathis, wide receiver Josh Delgado and quarterback Cale Millen have also enrolled early at Oregon.
With backup quarterback Braxton Burmeister putting his name in the NCAA transfer portal, Millen and redshirt freshman Tyler Shough will have an opportunity to take a lot of practice snaps in this spring behind Herbert.
“I think being there and being with my teammates is really good, especially for a quarterback being there first,” Millen said of his decision to get a head start on his collegiate career with an eye on competing to be Herbert’s replacement in 2020. “That’s what every coach wants from their quarterback. I’m definitely excited.”
Oregon’s incoming class also features Herbert’s younger brother, Sheldon High tight end Patrick Herbert, who is listed at 6-6, 233 pounds.
“I think there’s a good chance we’ll hear Don Essig say, ‘Herbert to Herbert for a touchdown,’” Prehm said of the possibility of Patrick getting on the field with Justin in 2019.
Oregon Ducks 2019 recruiting class
Signed in December
Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu | OL | 6-6/389 | Hilo, Hawaii
Trikweze Bridges | S | 6-3/175 | Lanett, Ala.
Josh Delgado | WR | 5-11/180 | Carson, Calif.
Sean Dollars | RB | 5-10/195 | Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Brandon Dorlus | DL | 6-4/260 | Deerfield Beach, Fla.
Ge’mon Eaford | LB | 6-2/230 | Deerfield Beach, Fla.
Mase Funa | LB | 6-3/245 | Santa Ana, Calif.
Patrick Herbert | TE | 6-6/233 | Eugene
Camden Lewis | K | 6-0/185 | Cornelius, N.C.
Treven Ma’ae | OLB | 6-4/224 | Kapolei, Hawaii
Drew Mathis | LB | 6-3/235 | Ventura, Calif.
Cale Millen | QB | 6-3/190 | Snoqualmie, Wash.
Mycah Pittman | WR | 5-11/195 | Calabasas, Calif.
Sua’ava Poti | DL | 6-3/271 | Bellflower, Calif.
Jonah Tauanu’u | OL | 6-5/327 | Harbor City, Calif.
Kayvon Thibodeaux | DL | 6-5/243 | Westlake Village, Calif.
Isaac Townsend | OLB | 6-5/241 | Arvada, Colo.
Keyon Ware-Hudson | DL | 6-3/303 | Duarte, Calif.
JR Waters | WR | 6-3/190 | Oxnard, Calif.
Lance Wilhoite | WR | 6-3/175 | Nashville, Tenn.
Jayvaun Wilson | RB | 6-2/215 | Valencia, Calif.
Mykael Wright | CB | 5-11/180 | Valencia, Calif.
Expected to sign on Wednesday
Jamal Hill | DB | 6-1/195 | Morrow, Ga.
DJ James | DB | 6-0/170 | Spanish Fort, Ala.
Logan Sagapolu | OL | 6-3/340 | Lehi, Utah