They Said It: Everything Oregon HC Dan Lanning said at his National Signing Day presser
Wednesday marked the finish line for the 2022 recruiting class in a lot of ways. There will still be some stragglers in the months ahead who sign for various programs, but attention now shifts from recruiting stars and rankings to weight room goals and practice.
Oregon head coach Dan Lanning said earlier Wednesday during the Ducks’ in-house NSD show that “the stars aren’t here anymore. … Let’s get to work.” Overall, the Ducks signed 14 high school recruits and added five transfers to the program.
Lanning also spoke with reporters about the group of players the Ducks have signed this cycle and a number of other topics. Here’s the full transcript from that question-and-answer session:
Lanning’s opening statement:
“Just extremely excited to be here today. It’s an exciting day for Duck football. Really pumped about some of the additional pieces we were able to add to our team and to our program today. Got some great guys coming on board.
“I think our coaches did a tremendous job and our support staff did a tremendous job early on going to identify some needs in our program and some elite players that can come be a part of what we’re doing. So, very appreciative of all the hard work that’s gone in to not just today but the last signing period and kind of fitting pieces together. It’s a pretty exciting time for us.”
On what the Ducks could potentially still add:
“It’s certainly still a little fluid. I think we anticipate probably ending up with a couple more guys here today that we’re battling for that we feel strong about that we could end up landing. But, ultimately, I don’t know if there’s one position (of need) because you don’t know exactly what position’s available. As things continue to move and shake and shift, I think time will tell what direction we go there.”
On how difficult the first recruiting cycle was given the abbreviated timeline and amount of de-commitments:
“For us as a staff, it was a challenge but a challenge we welcomed. Oregon’s a phenomenal place. We’ve got the ability to get great players here and I think people just had to have an opportunity to sit down, listen to us, and realize that we have a genuine group here that cares. Excited about the group we were able to put together.”
On managing a changing landscape with the transfer portal and NIL changes:
“You have to be willing to adapt and change. Ask questions, right? Don’t assume that you know everything. I think we kind of worked through that process together. I was able to put a great staff together that sees big-picture, and I think it starts there with everybody having a similar vision.
“I think there’s a lot of teams right now that don’t know what direction this will head and everyone’s taking a different approach. We’re going to look to enhance our program through the transfer portal, but we’re also going to spend more time looking to enhance our program through the high school signings, and I don’t think every program’s going to do it that same way. We still want to be able to develop players. But, it’s going to change year to year and I think we’re going to be able to adapt our approach as we move forward.”
On adding 4-star RB Jordan James and 3-star wideout Justius Lowe:
“First off, I just think they’re phenomenal human beings and dynamic players. Obviously, Jordan’s a guy that I had a relationship with before my time at Georgia. Also really fortunate enough that Coach Locklyn in his previous job had a relationship with Jordan just in case an opportunity like this would ever present itself for Coach. We had strong ties there. I think that he’s a dynamic player, obviously has the ability to be a one-touch touchdown kind of guy and get the ball down the field.
“Then Justius, we’re going to battle to keep the best in our state and we think we should be able to keep the best in our state. He’s in that category. Before the day’s over with, I think people will realize we were able to be really competitive in our state and get guys on board. Thrilled about him. More thrilled about what kind of people both of those young men are.”
On the importance of in-state recruiting:
“My very first day recruiting, the very first time I could get on the road, I spent that time in Oregon and that time in Portland and in the area. That’ll always be a priority for us. We have the ability to go anywhere and that’s a blessing, but we have to win home first.”
On the importance of coaching chemistry early on and whether they’ve been able to meet together much as a staff yet:
“Obviously early on it was Zoom (meetings) until finishing the national championship game, and then getting here we were able to have several in-person meetings. I think to share a vision you have to be on the same page. It’s kind of a little bit of a frat house mentality for some of us, we’re staying in the same house for a while here while our families get adjusted and get acclimated to the area so for us football doesn’t stop at 7 at night, it’s going into the wee hours of the night drawing up plays, watching film in the basement. Been really fortunate to be able to talk ball. I think we were drawing plays on a mirror last night in the house. It’s been a lot of fun connecting with the staff.”
On adding speed to the roster:
“I think we ended up signing nine guys that have a track and field background. We signed five guys that run under a 10.7 100. For us on defense, the way we play and the brand of football we’re going to play, it’s really important. In fact, we have a couple guys coming in who are going to be able to compete in track as well. I know I was excited on signing day but I think (track coach Robert) Johnson was just as excited.
“The game’s about speed. We’ve got to be able to run and hit and tackle and catch and block, all those things matter, but speed’s one thing that’s hard to change and we’ve got some guys coming in that can do that.”
On the additions of 3-star DB Khamari Terrell and 4-star DB Jahlil Florence:
“Obviously Khamari, Jahlil, (and Jalil Tucker) we’re really, really excited about in the secondary. All those guys have a track background and speed. They’re just great humans. I think they all wanted an opportunity to be able to sit and visit with us and spend some time. I think I’m just as excited about what kind of character they have.
“One thing they all have in common is they’re all long, and they all have great speed. Those are big pieces for us moving forward.”
On making up ground over the next few months with future recruiting classes:
“Yeah, we’ll be aggressive in our approach moving forward. We’ve already been able to have a couple guys on campus with the unofficial period this past month. We’ll definitely attack that coming in March. One of the biggest things we can do as a fanbase and a staff is focus on getting guys here for the 23rd for our spring game. April 23 at 1 p.m. we need to pack the crowd and make Autzen the experience we know it can be.
“Then just getting more of these guys on the phone, on campus, on Zooms, that’s where we’ll attack moving forward.”
On hitting the state of Texas long-term:
“I think it’s a little year-to-year. We want to go attack the players we think fit us wherever they’re at. Sometimes that’s going to be in Texas, and sometimes it’ll be more in Texas than in others. We have great, strong ties there on our staff, certainly, just like we do on the Pacific Northwest. It’ll definitely be a place that we’ll always have a footprint (in) and we’ll attack, I just don’t know what that number will be year in and year out.”
On what he likes with running backs coach Carlos Locklyn:
“Coach Lock is a guy I first got to meet when I was at Memphis. Obviously was really excited whenever we got the opportunity to bring him here. I feel like he got it out the mud, man. This guy grinded and worked for everything he got. He started out as a volunteer. I look over one day and he’s wearing a t-shirt and he’s out there on the field, not sure exactly where he came from. I have an appreciation for guys like that that didn’t get it with a spoon in their mouth. He cares deeply for his players. Obviously has some familiarity with the position from playing it, but whenever I was able to talk with guys that he helped mentor and put in the league there from his time in Memphis, it was really apparent the impact he had on those players. That’s something that stuck out to me and our staff. I’m thrilled he’s part of what we’re doing.”
On chief of staff Marshall Malchow and what he brings to Oregon:
“He’s a stud. First off, you want to surround yourself with great people and people you enjoy being around. Marshall and I got to work together at Georgia, and it was apparent really early that Marshall was elite at his job. He’s great with relationships, shares big-picture vision that I look for. He’ll be our chief of staff here, so he’ll work hand-in-hand in all facets of the program, obviously having him involved in personnel and recruiting, but also a guy I can bounce ideas off of day-to-day. Definitely a big piece of what we want to do here and somebody I knew I immediately wanted to target when I got the job.”
On when spring ball will start and how many members of the 2022 class he expects to participate:
“We don’t have an exact number yet. Still kind of going through that process as far as who will be joining us. Obviously we crank up in mid-March and then we’ll have Spring Break there and then finish up through the end of April.
“I like getting guys here as quickly as I can, but I want it to fit within their high school experience and them finishing up the way they have to be able to finish up there, so I do think that’s a case-by-case basis. They have to be prepared for the rigors of college. They have to be ready to attack it. But, yeah, we want to get as many here as quick as we can so they can get acclimated to school, be a part of learning our system and how we operate and what we do.”
On what kind of impact he sees the transfer portal having on upcoming classes both for Oregon and in general:
“I think it’s changed the game in a lot of ways, not just for us at Oregon but in college football. There’s less high school players being recruited at times, and that can be an advantage for us because we’re going to be aggressive in bringing in high school players. Teams can change their rosters quickly. It’s a little bit of a balancing act. I don’t know that we’ll completely know the entire impact until we sit here four years from now and we do an analysis of what it’s looked like. For us, again, we’re going to continue to evaluate. I’m not going to have a hard stance one way or the other until we know how it benefits us and impacts us.”
On the signing of Jordan James and the running back room going forward:
“I’m pretty jacked to get Jordan. I’m certainly pumped about him. And I think we can be creative in our approach (at running back). We have some talent at other positions on our roster on offense, and we’ll use guys in a variety of ways, even if that means putting a wideout in the backfield, moving people around, I think we can do that. We’re always looking to enhance the backfield. I feel really great about the guys we have in that group right now, and Jordan obviously enhances that moving forward.”
On offensive tempo:
“It has to be a weapon for us. I also think that sometimes those numbers (play counts) get skewed a little bit. If we’re in a game and we’re doing really well, that pace is going to change potentially down the stretch. If a game is in hand or you’re scoring quickly, that doesn’t always equate to 80 plays. But I know how uncomfortable (tempo) can make a defense, and we want to be able to do that in this league.
“There’s two things I think people don’t realize: it’s one thing to go fast, it’s another thing to be fast and efficient, and we want to be fast and efficient. We don’t want to just be fast. That’s something that (OC Kenny) Dillingham has great experience in.”
On emphasizing linemen with the 2022 class:
“I think size and speed is a premium. A lot of people have asked about what’s the difference in places I’ve been in the past. I think the d-line is one of those places where it starts. You have to win the game at the line of scrimmage. Period. That’s football. So, adding those guys who are going to be pieces of the puzzle for us moving forward and can certainly enhance our ability to be effective at that spot. The defenses that I’ve been a part of that have been strong have had good d-linemen and play good along the defensive front.”
On being around campus and what has impressed him about the program or the school:
“Just the love for the program is so strong. I’ve been so impressed. We had some time (Monday) night to spend with the alumni base … and hearing their passion for our program, how much they love Oregon, has really stood out to me. We got an opportunity to hang out with Haloti Ngata this past weekend, Kenjon Barner, and these guys have big hearts. They care about Oregon. To be sitting there with a guy that’s won Super Bowls and he’s offering to give you a ride or show up to a dinner or just be around, that means the world to me. I’m excited about that. And that’s certainly been a welcome surprise.”