Mark Helfrich Quickly Making An Impression

Mark HelfrichIt has been nearly two weeks since the Oregon Ducks hired Mark Helfrich as their new head football coach and it would appear that there hasn't been a dull moment yet.

Helfrich has hit the ground running, already accomplishing quite a bit in his first twelve days on the job. Since he took over the reigns at Oregon, the Ducks have signed four new recruits (including a four star receiver out of Arizona who is also a state champion hurdler).
 
The Ducks have yet to have any current commits defect either. This means that he Ducks should now be expecting sixteen young men to officially sign come national signing day, February 6th. While there have been reports of teams like Ohio State trying to poach some of the twelve recruits who had committed before Kelly left, so far none have de-committed and many have reaffirmed their commitment to Oregon, including in-state star Thomas Tyner.
 
Recruiting isn't all that Helfrich has been focused on since taking the job either. Since former defensive line coach, Jerry Azzinaro, followed Chip Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles, Helfrich was left with two positions to fill right in the heart of recruiting season. 
 
Yesterday Oregon announced that Scott Frost, Oregon's previous wide receiver coach, would be taking over Helfrich's old position, offensive coordinator. This came as no surprise to those close to the program as Frost was someone Oregon had made clear they wanted to retain and for good reason; Louisiana Tech recently interviewed Frost for their head coaching position, while his Alma matter, Nebraska, has shown interest in hiring him as their offensive coordinator.
 
The news of Frost’s promotion also came as no surprise because Helfrich had already hired a replacement wide receiver coach in Matt Lubick. The hiring came four days ago and it was Helfrich’s first official move as coach. It appears to be a good one since Lubick is commonly referred to as a "recruiting guru" among coaching circles. 
 
Lubick previously coached at Ole Miss and Arizona State, places where he was credited with recruiting star players, Dexter McCluster and Vontaze Burfict respectively. While Lubick was at ASU they also had a string of their best recruiting classes ever, never finishing with a class ranked above 35th in Rivals.com team rankings.
 
Lubick most recently was the wide receivers coach at Duke, where he helped lead the Blue Devils to their first bowl appearance in 18 years. In 2012 Lubick coached a receiving duo that set the ACC record for combined receptions. Both receivers (Jamison Crowder and Conner Vernon) also had over 1,000 receiving yards, a feat only accomplished one other time in ACC history. Duke was also the only team in the country to have three receivers with 65 receptions in 2012.
 
The impressive receiving group and dynamic recruiting at Duke made Lubick a finalist for the AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year Award last year, as well as a nominee for the Broyles Award (awarded to the top assistant in the country).
 
The last coaching vacancy that Helfrich had been tasked with filling also appears to be filled now, as yesterday it was reported that the Ducks would be hiring Ron Aiken as their defensive line coach.
 
Aiken comes to Oregon after spending the past six years as the defensive line coach for the Arizona Cardinals. Prior to coaching in the NFL, Aiken spent eight years at the University of Iowa where he helped Hawkeyes boast some of the best rushing defenses in the country as well as helping lead them to six straight bowl games. In 2002, Aiken also won the AFCA award in which coach Lubick was a finalist for last season.
 
Couple the great coaching hires by Helfrich so far, with the fact that the Ducks still have their strong core of long-time assistants, and it would appear the Ducks’ assistant coaching staff is at least as good as in previous years, if not better.
 
Vince Tushner is on Twitter. Follow him at @SportsVince21

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