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Jackson leads Oregon's class

Diante Jackson, a highly rated receiver from the San Francisco Bay Area, decided to play for Oregon after all.

Jackson made it official Wednesday, the first day high school players could make their verbal commitments to colleges official. He had said Oregon was his choice last fall, but in recent weeks was taking a hard look at Colorado.

"Freshman year is the biggest year that you want to get your grades straight and I felt that Oregon would give me more opportunities to be successful than Colorado, not just in sports but academically," Jackson told The Contra Costa Times. "I felt like there's no better place to go in early and prove myself than Oregon."

Jackson, at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, played for Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek. His senior year he caught 61 passes for 1,021 yards and 16 touchdowns.

"The saga of Diante finally comes to an end. Probably we could all write a book on this one, but we won't," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti told reporters in Eugene. "Very excited, Diante is the number one player in the Bay Area."

Oregon also got a letter of intent from 5-foot-11, 168-pound cornerback Cliff Harris, who played for Edison High School in Fresno, Calif.

Two major scouting services had Harris ranked among the top 10 cornerbacks in the nation, and The Contra Costa Times deemed him the 7th best recruit in the country.

"It's exciting to get a guy of that caliber. He's got to put on a little bit of weight, he's a little on the thin side," Bellotti said. "But he has great feet, great hips and the ability to cover."

The Ducks did not hear from top-ranked running back Bryce Brown of Wichita, Kan., who gave a verbal commitment to Miami but is also considering Oregon and Kansas State. It could be several weeks before he makes a decision.

Oregon also did not yet receive a letter of intent from Tyrece Gaines, considered by some as the nation's best junior college receiver.

Gaines, who was also considering Oklahoma, played for Butler County Community College in El Dorado, Kansas.

In all, Oregon signed 20 high school players and four junior college players Wednesday. Another notable recruit is Bryson Littlejohn, a 6-foot-1, 227-pound linebacker from Sierra Junior College in California. He picked Oregon over Arizona, Boise State and Kansas.

The Ducks finished 10-3 last season, capped by a 42-31 victory over Oklahoma State in the Holiday Bowl. Oregon was ranked No. 10 in the season's final Associated Press Poll.

Bellotti said he told all his recruits that he probably would not be Oregon's head coach throughout their collegiate careers.

In December, Oregon announced that at some point in the future Bellotti would take over as athletics director, and assistant Chip Kelly would be promoted to coach. But when that might happen wasn't specified.

"I've told these young men, at least the high school players, that I will not be their coach their entire career. I don't know that it affected the people involved," Bellotti said.

He also said that telling the recruits up front may have helped the recruiting process, because the plan for succession was in place.