When Mario Cristobal left the University of Oregon football program at the end of last season, many fans felt that the level of recruiting they had become accustomed to would taper off. Those fears began to look like a reality after the program had 16 de-commitments and multiple transfers away from the program shortly after Cristobal’s departure.
With very little time to scramble together a very depleted 2021 recruiting class, new head coach Dan Lanning managed to put together a supporting staff around him. He and his staff were able to bring back three of the de-committed players, talk Seven McGee out of staying in the transfer portal, and salvage the No. 16 ranked class in the nation, according to 24/7Sports.
In the four years prior, Oregon landed twice in the top 10, no classes lower than No. 15. Joining the slightly damaged 2021 class was a group of transfers, helping replace the lost depth. Highlighting the recruiting class was Josh Conerly Jr., the highest-rated offensive line prospect in Oregon history. After his commitment was announced, a video on Twitter surfaced showing Lanning’s reaction to the news.
In the transfer portal, he shined too. With the help of offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham, Lanning brought in former five-star Auburn quarterback Bo Nix. Nix may now have the keys to the offense as he continues to compete against second-year five-star quarterback Ty Thompson.
As of today, he is seven months in. Things seem to be slowing down with recruiting dead period taking place. Lanning has his team gearing up for summer camp before their opener. A trip back to Athens to face the defending champions and his former team.
The dead period does not slow things down entirely for the recruiting process. Visits are not taken but keeping in touch is essential. There are many elite prospects with Oregon in the discussion. The current class sits at No. 21 in the nation, according to 24/7Sports. Don’t let that number fool you. The current class is already making history for Oregon football.
When Cristobal took over as the head coach, he quickly showed his recruiting ability. He brought Oregon up to heights of no other, with the crown jewel during his tenure being Kayvon Thibodeaux, the recent top-three pick in the NFL Draft. It took just over a year for Cristobal to land his crown jewel. As for Lanning, he may already have found his own.
One of the many five-star recruits that Cristobal brought to Oregon was quarterback Ty Thompson. He came into Eugene as the highest-rated quarterback recruit in school history. How did Lanning top that? He landed the commitment of quarterback Dante Moore, the No. 11 ranked player in the 2023 class. As NIL deals become increasingly common, it is clear that it had to be a factor in Moore’s decision to leave his hometown of Chicago, Illinois, but the other recruiting factors cannot be overlooked.
Lanning is all about making his program a family. He hired the right group of coaches who he believes fit that blueprint. He has already been seen fishing with recruits, having them over at his house, and proudly tweeting out the signature duck emoji every time a player announces their commitment.
Using social media for recruiting, too, helps increase his value. The simple emojis that many other coaches around the country use, as well as broadcasting yourself to the fanbase, connects it all together. That’s why on Moore’s recruitment date, the Eugene faithful who had been using the hashtag “Dante2Eugene” over the past months were thrilled to see the duck emoji on Dan Lanning’s Twitter feed.
Moore headlines a 2023 class that stacks up favorably to years past. With a lot of time to round out the edges, add more blue-chip players, and fill the depth, Lanning has his first real recruiting class coming along nicely. Joining Moore on the list is Jurrion Dickey, Oregon’s new highest-rated wide receiver recruit in history, four-star defensive backs Caleb Presley, Cole Martin, and Kodi Decambra, and more.
He has been able to go across the country to find his players, and he has been able to keep the west coast talent in his backyard. The expected decline in talent level was and continues to be near non-existent.
So how does he do it? Lanning is in his first year as a head coach. Ever. He has never surpassed a coordinator position at the collegiate level, yet he handles all of his tasks at an elite level, all while keeping recruiting a priority. Many things make him a great recruiter. None, however, is more important than his ability to be the same person every day.
Whether it’s his infectious energy shown at practices and on visits with recruits or his genuine love for every one of his players, he’s always the same. Players can trust him. Players can believe in what he says. He is a man of his word, and that ability seals the deal when recruiting at the top level.