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February 7, 2009

Oregon claims 4th annual JUCO Cup

The Oregon Ducks can officially claim their first title of the year as they have captured the JCGridiron.com JUCO Cup for the class of 2009. Oregon landed a number of players that should make an immediate impact and would have won by a larger margin had they not let a few slip away.

The Ducks landed five players listed in the Rivals.com Top-100 JUCO prospects and clinched the win when they received a commitment from El Dorado (KS) Butler County College receiver Tyrece Gaines on signing day. Oregon also landed what JCGridiron.com considers the top linebacker in the class when Roseville (Calif.) Sierra College inside linebacker Bryson Littlejohn gave his word to the Ducks in mid-January. In addition, Oregon landed two defensive tackles listed in the JCGridiron.com Top-10 defensive tackles in Huntington Beach (Calif.) Golden West College defensive tackle Andrew Iupati (4) and Reedley (Calif.) Reedley College DT Terrance Montgomery (10). If that was not enough, the Ducks managed to convince JCGridiron's No. 5 defensive end in the country Zac Clark (Butler CC) and No. 8 wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei (Golden West College) to head to Eugene to continue their respective college football careers.

Oregon was on the cusp of greatness and was in a position to have arguably the greatest JUCO class ever before the signing day took its toll. The Ducks lost a few commits down the stretch when Visalia (Calif.) College of the Sequoias safety Anthony Leon and Butler County College corner Rudell Crim both decided to take their act to Arkansas, and former 2008 commit Torrance (Calif.) El Camino College defensive tackle Justin Thompson signed with Memphis. They also saw early commit Myles Wade from Yuma (AZ) Arizona Western College open his recruitment back up and find a spot to his liking at Texas Tech, or the Ducks would have had hands-down a class worth remembering for years to come. Despite it all, Oregon still may not be done as they have dabbled for months with El Camino running back Andre Harris, something that still has a chance to come to fruition now that the Ducks appear to be, on the surface, out of the mix for Bryce Brown. Harris is the No. 24 overall player in America according to the Rivals.com Top-100 JUCO players and the No. 4 running back according to JCGridiron.

The Missouri Tigers ended up at No. 2 in the overall JUCO Cup rankings on the strength of three solid prospects, just making the cut of the minimum requirement of three commitments to qualify. Missouri landed what JCGridiron considers the No. 2 linebacker from the junior college ranks when San Francisco (Calif.) City College of San Francisco linebacker Joshua Tatum decided on the Tigers back in December. Missouri then landed two of the top safety prospects in the nation with the commitments of Tatum's teammate Jarrell Harrison and Hutchinson (KS) Hutchinson College safety Jasper Simmons.

Maybe the biggest surprise to the top-5 was in Arizona where the Wildcats landed five players that JCGridiron had listed high on their board. All five players were listed as three-star players by Rivals.com but JCGridiron has four of the five listed as high recruits at their respective positions. Santa Clarita (Calif.) College of the Canyons defensive tackle Jonathan Hollins was likely the top prize for the Wildcats along with mammoth offensive tackle Jack Julsing from Palm Desert (Calif.) College of the Desert. Hollins is rated the No. 50 overall JUCO player in America by Rivals.com while Julsing comes in as the No. 7 offensive tackle by JCGridiron. Yuma (AZ) Arizona Western College safety Marcus Benjamin, Brenham (TX) Blinn College linebacker C.J. Parish and wide receiver teammate Travis Cobb are all considered top-20 prospects at their respective positions by JCGridiron.

A pair of SEC programs come in tied at No. 4 overall as the Kentucky Wildcats and Auburn Tigers had banner seasons of recruiting junior college talent. Both teams landed four players from the JUCO ranks, with three each listed in the Rivals.com Top-100 JUCO players in America.

Kentucky broke the bank with two, four-star commitments from Wilmington (Calif.) Los Angeles Harbor College when wide receiver Chris Matthews and defensive end DeQuin Evans picked the Wildcats over a host of other solid options. Matthews is considered the No. 9 overall player in country by Rivals.com and the No. 5 wide receiver by JCGridiron. Evans is rated the No. 15 overall player by Rivals.com and the No. 6 defensive end by JCGridiron. They also received a commitment from Coffeyville (KS) Coffeyville College defensive tackle Mark Crawford, rated the No. 69 overall JUCO player in the country by Rivals.com.

The Auburn Tigers made an unusual splash into the junior college ranks with the commitment of four solid prospects for the class of 2009. Milledgeville (GA) Georgia Military College corner Taikwon Paige is a four-star player rated the No. 25 overall JUCO player in America by Rivals.com and landed a number of solid early offers before choosing the SEC over the Big 10, Big 12 and Big East. The Tigers also landed two players from 2007 national champion Perkinston (MS) Mississippi Gulf Coast College in linebacker Eltoro Freeman and athlete Demond Washington. Freeman is one of the top-10 linebackers in the nation according to JCGridiron and Washington is rated the No. 91 junior college prospect in the country by Rivals.com. They also enticed Wesson (MS) Copiah-Lincoln College defensive tackle Nick Fairley to sign early as the No. 95 rated player in America by Rivals.com, giving them a solid nucleus of four players and a top-5 ranking.

The JCGridiron.com JUCO Cup is awarded annually to the top junior college recruiting class in the nation. A program must have a minimum of three commitments to qualify for the award. Previous winners include Nebraska (2006), Tennessee (2007) and Florida State (2008).

The following is the standings for the class of 2009 JCGridiron JUCO Cup. In the case of ties, a higher ranking was based on the number of commits. Total commits are indicated in parenthesis ().

1. Oregon (6), 7.87
2. Missouri (3), 7.30
3. Arizona (5), 6.80
T4. Kentucky (4), 6.75
T4. Auburn (4), 6.75
6. Utah (6), 6.67
7. Arkansas (5), 6.60
T8. Washington (6), 6.50
T8. South Florida (6), 6.50
T10. South Carolina (4), 6.50
T10. Oklahoma State (4), 6.50
T10. Baylor (4), 6.50
T10. San Jose State (4), 6.50
T10. Marshall (4), 6.50
15. Hawaii (9), 6.44
16. Louisville (7), 6.43
T17. Southern Mississippi (5), 6.40
T17. Houston (5), 6.40
19. New Mexico State (8), 6.37
T20. Kansas (3), 6.33
T20. Cincinnati (3), 6.33
T20. Florida International (3), 6.33
23. California (4), 6.25
24. Mississippi State (6), 6.17
25. Memphis (10), 6.1
26. UAB (8), 6.0
27. UCLA (4), 6.0
T28. Kansas State (3), 6.0
T28. Colorado State (3), 6.0
30. Utah State (6), 5.83
T31. UNLV (5), 5.80
T31. Iowa State (5), 5.80
33. Troy (9), 5.77
T34. Akron (3), 5.67
T34. SMU (3), 5.67
T34. Tulsa (3), 5.67
T34. Louisiana Tech (3), 5.67
T34. Louisiana Monroe (3), 5.67
T34. Western Michigan (3), 5.67
T34. BYU (3), 5.67
41. UTEP (4), 5.50
42. Nevada (5), 5.40
43. North Texas (7), 5.29
44. Eastern Michigan (4), 5.25
45. Northern Illinois (4), 5.0
46. Louisiana Lafayette (3), 4.67


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