Bust out the victory cigars, Dan Lanning.

You deserve all the smoke.

Oregon continues to dwarf the rest of the Pac-12 in high school recruiting, with Lanning landing one of his biggest recruits yet in Baltimore-bred 4/5-star quarterback prospect Michael Van Buren, who publicly committed to Oregon this week over a group that included Penn State and home-state favorite Maryland, after reportedly being a silent commit since April.


Van Buren, who, according to ESPN is the 2nd-ranked pocket passer in the class behind recent Georgia commit Dylan Raiola, becomes Oregon’s 14th commit and 11th 4-star (according to 247Sports’ recruiting rankings, to go along with 3 more 3-stars. No other Pac-12 team has more than 2 4-star commitments and UCLA, Arizona State and Colorado are tied for 2nd in the conference with 5 recruits each.

Forget lapping the competition: The Ducks are literally almost tripling their rivals on the recruiting trail.

And if you think that’s bad for your team, take a deep breath: The Ducks are just getting started.


It’s not any one thing, of course.

You’ve got a dynamic young coach who speaks the language of teen culture, who geeks out with the best of them, and who, it appears, genuinely cares.

Then you’ve got results on the field, as Oregon’s 10-3 campaign in Lanning’s first season was nothing short of a massive triumph. It’s not that expectations were down for the Ducks last year (well, maybe after a 49-3 season-opening loss to Georgia), but with the quarterback position in a state of flux and the introduction of a brand new scheme and system, lets just say they were tempered. Then Oregon rebounded from its demoralizing season-opening loss to become one of the country’s top teams for an 8-week run before Bo Nix was hobbled down the stretch and the Ducks lost 2 of 3 games — to impressive Washington and Oregon State squads — to finish the regular season.

And you’ve got a collection of the Pac-12’s top recruiters, including defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi — who gained fame as a young recruiter by playing video games with his recruits — and cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin.

With that combination playing in Oregon’s favor, it’s no surprise the Ducks are cleaning up on the trail.

And that they are.

In addition to an already impressive collection of would-be Ducks, Oregon is also reportedly zeroed in on 5-star edge Elijah Rushing, who stars for Tucson’s Salpointe Catholic and would be a huge swipe from the Arizona Wildcats; 4-star linebacker Justin Williams, who had 105 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss and 8.5 sacks as Texas District 13-6A Defensive Player of the Year last season; cornerback Dakoda Fields, who hails from typically USC-friendly Serra High yet favors the Ducks over the Trojans; and San Jacinto High wideout Dillon Gresham, 1 of the top 40 pass-catchers in the country.


Van Buren, of course, is particularly special. He was one of the top uncommitted quarterbacks remaining in the 2024 class, along with Mater Dei’s Elijah Brown and Macon’s Jakhari Williams. He is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 129 player in his class, the No. 11 quarterback recruit overall and the No. 3 recruit in his home state of Maryland after throwing for 1,707 yards and 18 touchdowns on 112-of-198 attempts, with an additional 125 rushing yards on 10 carries and 2 touchdowns.

He offers some of the versatility that Nix does, only perhaps with a better touch on the ball. He becomes Oregon’s 2nd quarterback commit, joining 3-star recruit Luke Moga (Sunnyslope High in Phoenix).

He reportedly joined the fray last month, two weeks before Moga made his intentions public.

“It was when I took the second visit (of the year) in mid April,” Van Buren told Scorebook Live’s Andrew Nemec. “I was spending a lot of time with the coaching staff and the players. My mom was there. It just felt like the right place to be and I decided to make that happen. I committed on that visit, so I’ve been committed for awhile now. I’m glad it has all come to an end and I finally get to help recruit a No. 1 (recruiting) class.”

Now Van Buren is pledging to be the Ducks’ best recruiter.


What could this mean for the Pac-12?

Well, all bad things, of course.

In Lanning, the rumbling Oregon recruit engine finally has the right fuel, the right combination of aptitude, attitude and relentlessness. These guys want to win on the recruiting trail. They’re going for it. They’re eating this up.

The Ducks have had a winning program to sell, and a raucous game-day atmosphere, and Daddy Phil’s bucks, and first-class facilities. But they’ve never had someone with this vim at the helm.

Chip Kelly was an offensive genius, but he preferred system 3-stars over project 4-stars. Mark Helfrich was fine enough, I guess. Mario Cristobal kicked it up a notch, but he was 48 when hired by the Ducks. Lanning was 36.

Recruiting is an energy game, and Lanning has all the energy in the world.

And the Ducks? Well, they’ve got all the momentum in the conference.