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Ducks No Stranger to Late Surprises

For the Ducks a big finish or surprising commitment comes with the territory of recruiting. Historically the Ducks have landed big commitments during the final days of recruiting up until national signing day.

With the news of USC commit DeAnthony Thomas taking a visit and speculation brewing he has switched to Oregon one can only be shocked he switched but not shocked at the latest surprise.

It seems like every year since 2002 the Ducks have been news makers in recruiting circles late in the game.
First it was the consensus No. 1 ranked defensive tackle Haloti Ngata switching his pledge to Nebraska to Oregon on signing day.

Ngata is to this date the biggest commit the Oregon Ducks have ever landed to date and was also a shock that shook the recruiting world when it happened.

Then then-head coach Mike Bellotti would almost beat his 2002 coup with two shocking commitments the following year in 2003 with Dennis Dixon and Ryan Gilliam coming to Eugene on signing day.

Dixon, thought to be one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, made his selection to Oregon despite a full roster of quarterbacks and no baseball program. At the time Dixon was looking to play both football and baseball. To make it even more shocking was that Dixon agreed to gray-shirt and enroll in Oregon a semester later than most commits.

Gilliam was even more of a surprise. The Ducks plucked him away from home-town Florida State and many SEC programs. Gilliam was the second big commit for the defensive side of the ball that many of the "big boys" wanted.

Yet in 2004 Bellotti would land another huge commit again late in the game when 5-star receiver Cam Colvin decided to spurn Michigan and USC and followed his teammates up I-5 to Eugene.

The Colvin commitment was huge for multiple reasons. Colvin was one of the top targets for the USC Trojans and when they set their sites on a California player they get him most of the time. Not only did the Ducks get a player out of the Trojan’s grasps they also got publicity that can't be reproduced when Colvin donned the Oregon hat on national TV during a segment on ESPN's SportCenter.

From 2005 to 2007 the Ducks wouldn't sign any high profile recruits during the final few days leading up until signing day.

It would be in 2008 the Ducks would land a key commitment late in the process.

Current junior LaMichael James picked the Ducks on the last weekend of recruiting over Big-10 and Big-12 schools despite the fact Oregon was bringing in junior college transfer LeGarrette Blount and returned senior Jeremiah Johnson.

In 2009 the Ducks again would be singing day news-makers when Diante Jackson decided to spurn Colorado and sign with the Ducks. Jackson was considered to be one of the best receivers in the nation and top target on the west coast for many college programs.

Oregon would also make waves just a few days earlier as well when Cliff Harris decided to spurn the USC Trojans and come north. Harris was considered by most to be the west coast's top corner and one of the top three corners in the entire nation.

In 2010 the Ducks again saw themselves scroll across the news ticker from defensive tackle Ricky Heimuli, athlete Josh Huff, and safety Erick Dargan all picking the Ducks on signing day or just a few days before.

Huff was widely thought to be a TCU commit before the Ducks entered the picture and got his commitment. Huff was thought to be one of the better running backs in Texas but came to Oregon as a receiver and has since played in all 13 games and looks to be a starter as a sophomore.

Heimuli played a back-up role during the 2010 season at defensive tackle and is now expected to compete for a starting tackle spot in the 2011 season with the departures from Zac Clark and Bradon Bair along the defensive line.

Dargan redshirted as a freshman and will compete for action on the field in the upcoming season.

Now we move to 2011 and already we've seen the DeAnthony Thomas news break late Sunday night just three days before recruits can sign their letters of intent.

Will he officially go public with his commitment to Oregon? Will he back off and stick with the Trojans?
Time will tell if Thomas chooses to stay home or fly north.

Yet will Thomas be the only late addition to the recruiting class?

Jake Fisher, a 6-foot-7 offensive tackle, from Traverse City, MI visited Oregon recently and will choose between offers from Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, and Oregon.

Don't forget about four-star defensive tackle Delvon Simmons from McKeesport, PA. The highly sought after defensive tackle has offers from Oregon, USC, Florida, Pitt, and Texas Tech among many others but will choose between the named schools.

Another defensive tackle, Christian Heyward, from San Diego, CA is strongly looking at the Ducks along with USC, San Diego State, and UCLA. Will the Ducks land the state of California's ninth best player?

Lastly four-star defensive tackle Lamar Dawson is also looking at the Ducks. The 6-foot-2 linebacker from Danville, KY is down to Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Oregon, Louisville, and USC. He's expected to announce on signing day.

Where will Oregon finish and with who? That is always a mystery and certainly one that will include some fireworks to finish the latest class for the Ducks.

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