Five offensive stars Chip Kelly recruited at Oregon
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UCLA officially hired Chip Kelly as its new head coach on Saturday, bringing him back to the college game after five years away. Kelly is best known for his time at Oregon where his offense helped revolutionize the college game and turned the Ducks into a national power. Today we take a look back at five offensive stars that Kelly helped recruit and develop in his time in Eugene.
What he did under Kelly: Mariota spent just two seasons under Kelly, redshirting as a freshman in 2011 and then taking over as the starter in 2012. But make no mistake, Kelly’s influence was all over the eventual Heisman Trophy winner. Mariota is now regarded as the best player in Oregon football history and he led the Ducks to the national championship game and won the Heisman Trophy before going on to be a first-round draft pick for the Tennessee Titans..
As a recruit: A four-star in the class of 2008, James chose Oregon over Minnesota, Mississippi State, Nebraska and TCU. He committed when Kelly was the Oregon offensive coordinator under then-coach Mike Belloti.
What he did under Kelly: Both James and Kelly saw their stars rise at the same time, with James playing his first season on the field in 2009 as a redshirt freshman. He went on to help the Ducks to the national championship game following the 2010 season and finished third in Heisman balloting that same season. James finished atop the Oregon record books in nearly every major rushing category and went on to be a second-round pick for the San Francisco 49ers.
As a recruit: One of Kelly’s biggest recruiting victories in his time in Eugene, Thomas committed to the Ducks on National Signing Day after being a long-time USC commit. The recruiting victory showed just how far the Ducks had come under Kelly and giving Thomas the option to play offense in college turned out to be a big plus when it came time for his decision.
What he did under Kelly: Thomas was one of college football’s most exciting players during his time in Eugene. He tallied at least 1,100 yards from scrimmage in each of his three years there, while also being one of the country’s most dangerous return men. A jack-of-all-trades, Thomas was an X-factor in the Oregon offense and played with a swagger that embodied the Kelly era in Eugene. He went on to be selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.
As a recruit: Another impressive recruiting victory for Kelly, the Ducks reached into Michigan and beat out Michigan, Michigan State and Florida to land Fisher’s commitment on National Signing Day in 2011.
What he did under Kelly: Fisher went on to be a huge part of Oregon’s success early in his career and continued after Kelly left. Fisher was the starting left tackle on Oregon’s team that played for the national championship following the 2014 season. He was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
As a recruit: Ranked as a four-star running back in the class of 2010, Huff did a little bit of everything as a high schooler and was highly-regarded by Kelly for his versatility. He chose the Ducks over Minnesota, TCU and Utah.
What he did under Kelly: Huff emerged as a weapon early in his career in Eugene, and finished his career with 2,608 yards from scrimmage. He went on to be a fourth round draft choice of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014, where Kelly was the head coach.