Last night was monumental for the Oregon Ducks football program, a night that will give the Oregon coaching staff yet another tool when they hit the recruiting trail in the coming years.
The Ducks saw their former defensive end, Dion Jordan, get drafted third overall in the 2013 NFL Draft and former offensive lineman, Kyle long, get drafted 20th. It was the first time since 1972 that the Ducks had two players drafted in the first round. Oregon is best known for their fast-paced offense and the seemingly endless rotation of stunning jerseys, but what they aren't known for is their ability to produce top-NFL prospects.
Before last night, Oregon already had a lot strengths when it came to recruiting: the recent on-field success, their rabid fan base, their style/swagger, their facilities, their desirable campus lifestyle and last but definitely not least, Mr. Phil Knight and Nike.
Now, the ability to turn a player into a top-level NFL prospect can be added to that list as well.
In 2008, Jordan was a four-star tight end recruit who committed to Oregon, expecting to play in Chip Kelly’s new and exciting brand of offense. Instead, five years later, he found himself being drafted third overall in the NFL Draft as a defensive end.
After redshirting in 2008 and getting limited playing time on offense in 2009, Jordan switched to the defensive side of the ball in 2010. After being named first team All Pac-12 in both 2011 and 2012, it is safe to say he hasn’t looked back since.
Jordan was the first defensive player taken in this year’s draft and it wasn’t by mistake. The Miami Dolphins traded their 12th and 42nd overall picks in order to move and get the third overall pick (one pick in front of Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles) to assure they'd get Mr. Jordan.
Jordan became only the 13th Duck to ever be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft and only the fourth Duck taken with a top-three selection. Jordan also became the highest drafted defensive player the Ducks have ever produced.
What Jordan did while at Oregon will raise the eyebrows of future prospects around the country, showing them that no matter what position they go to Oregon to play, if they have the make-up and abilities to be an NFL player, the coaching staff will find it.
Couple this with the fact that Oregon’s innovative brand of football is beginning to leak into the NFL game, and the Ducks are quickly becoming an attractive destination for recruits. The pace in which he played in college surely didn’t hurt Kyle Long’s surprising jump into the first round. As NFL offenses begin to move quicker and as more of the spread option is implemented, players running this style during college will become infinitely more attractive as Long found out last night.
The Ducks are already an elite school in terms of the college football national landscape, a “national brand” if you will, but Thursday furthered that status. For years now, they have drawn attention from many of the top offensive prospects across the country (especially the skilled positions) but what Thursday night did was make defensive prospects (and offensive linemen) think twice before looking past the Ducks.
Vince Tushner is on Twitter. Follow him at @SportsVince21