By Richard T. Estrada
Special to MaxPreps
First impressions are lasting impressions, says MaxPreps All-American John Mundt
, and that's why the athletic tight end says he will remain a committed University of Oregon recruit despite coach Chip Kelly's departure.
When news broke Wednesday morning that Kelly had accepted the top job with the Philadelphia Eagles, the first question all Duck fans were asking themselves was this: "Are the recruits, including Mundt, still coming."
In Mundt's case, the answer is an emphatic yes.
"I built a quick relationship with tight end coach Tom Osborne from the first time we met, and he is why I committed to Oregon," said Mundt, who led Central Catholic (Modesto, Calif.)
to a California Division IV championship and was named to the MaxPreps Small-School All-American squad. "Coach Osborne calls every week to talk, and not just about football. He asks how things are going in school, and what I've been doing. He's like a friend."
The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Mundt was impressed that Osborne stopped by the school's office to ask the secretaries what sort of kid he was on campus.
"He told me the office ladies had great things to say about me, and he did the first time he was on campus," said Mundt, who caught 33 passes for 625 yards and eight TDs as a senior. "After I met the players at Oregon on my visit, he asked them what they thought of me. He did his homework."
While some schools have assistant coaches who recruit a geographical area, Mundt says, Oregon has its position coaches recruit the players who they will be coaching. It's a huge asset, Mundt believes, because it allows high school athletes to form a bond with the man who will be coaching them.
Osborne has sent no fewer than nine tight ends to the NFL, and that track record was not lost on Mundt. He was primarily a blocking tight end at Central Catholic, which uses a power running game and threw just 12 passes a game, but his agility is what helped attract the Ducks.
Mundt burst onto the scene in the spring of 2012, when his SPARQ rating at the Nike combine in Oakland was the highest of any tight end in the nation. He had just 17 catches for 314 yards in 13 games as a junior.
"I'd love to see Chip Kelly stay, but if he has an opportunity to go to the NFL, he's deserving of that," said Mundt who also had 15.5 sacks and was in on 80 tackles as a linebacker this past fall. "The good thing is if Chip Kelly leaves, I hear he'll be replaced by offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich."
Mundt, who has a 3.8 GPA despite the parochial school's demanding curriculum and scored 1,600 on his SAT, recently played in the Semper Fi All-American game.
"That was a great week and gave me an idea of what I'm going to run into when I get to Oregon," said Mundt, who was taller and heavier than most of his high school opponents. "Some of those linemen at the Semper Fi game were 100 pounds heavier and could look me in the eye. It was a first for me, but it got me excited about going to Oregon. I will love being a Duck."
Richard T. Estrada has been covering high school football in the Northern San Joaquin Valley and Sierra Foothills for 27 years and currently runs Black Hat Football. Follow him on Facebook (facebook.com/BlackHatFootball) and on Twitter (@BlackHatFootbal).