For almost a year, Oregon Ducks fans have been clamoring for an answer about who would be the quarterback in the class of 2017.

Maxpreps National Sophomore of the Year Tate Martell showed early interest, but chose Texas A&M, and Marcus Mariota disciple Tua Tagovailoa quickly became a fan favorite for obvious reasons, but the coaching staff never offered and he now appears to be a USC lean. 

Oregon passed on both of them in favor of Ryan Kelley, 247Sports’ No. 3 pro-style junior quarterback, who was also the highest-rated gunslinger in the country left on the board.

“Was” being the operative word.

On Thursday morning, the 6-foot-2, 175-pound signal-caller, out of Basha High School (Chandler, Arizona), rewarded the Ducks’ singular focus in his skillset, choosing Oregon over fellow finalists Arizona State, Cal, Michigan State and UCLA at a ceremony at his school.

Ranked the No. 35 player in the county by ESPN, Kelley is the highest-rated quarterback commitment for the Ducks in the history of the site’s rankings, which can be viewed as far back as 2006.

The catalyst for that commitment was Kelley’s official visit to Eugene earlier this season against Washington State, where the quarterback became enamored with the university.

“Great visit, amazing coaching staff, phenomenal facilities,” he wrote via text message. “All of the players seem like they really enjoy themselves up there. They have a great tradition up there.”

Shortly thereafter, Kelley said he was ready to make a decision out of a top five of Arizona State, Cal, Michigan State, Oregon and UCLA, although most saw it as a two-team race between the Ducks and Sun Devils.

That possibility became increasingly nerve-wracking for Oregon fans over the past week, as Arizona State caught fire on the recruiting trail, adding five-star wide receiver N’Keal Harry and U.S. Army All-American running back Chase Lucas.

But in the end the opportunity to play for Oregon was too much for the in-state program to overcome.

As a junior, Kelley was 228-of-361 (63.2 completion percentage) passing for 2,606 yards and 20 touchdowns with another 469 yards and four scores on the ground.

Kelley is Oregon’s second commitment in the class of 2017. He joins four-star defensive lineman Langi Tuifua.

— Andrew Nemec
anemec@oregonian.com
@AndrewNemec   

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