* Larry Josh Edwards (left to right) and Rheinhardt Harrison became the first major recruits to commit to the Ducks on Monday
- - -
And both, within hours of one another.
The seniors from Nease (FL) and University (WV) High Schools committed lock-and-step to the University of Oregon on Monday via Instagram, signaling a major haul for the Ducks with the National Letter of Intent period fast approaching.
Edwards confirmed his decision just an hour after Harrison first made his pledge known on Instagram. The moves were reminiscent of the University of North Carolina's haul that landed a cadre of girls recruits within a 24-hour period a year ago.
Both athletes can officially sign with Oregon on November 11.
This is already a major coup for Ben Thomas, Oregon's associate head coach for cross country and track and field, who last landed a major recruit in 2019-2020 when Evan Holland signed with the Ducks.
The dual commitments from the Florida and West Virginia talents are big in other ways, too: It may fast track major dominos in the coming weeks as the commitment season hits top gear.
Five distance runners were ranked within the top 10 recruits in MileSplit's third update of the Class of 2022's top 50 ranking. Harrison and Edwards are the current No. 1 and No. 4 ranked distance runners in their classes, respectively.
With numerous distance athletes on the cusp of finishing out their tenures with Oregon, including the likes of Cooper Teare, Jackson Mestler and Reed Brown -- not to mention the bright future of redshirt sophomore and Olympian Cole Hocker -- Harrison and Edwards could arrive on the Eugene campus at just the right time, with the program transitioning from the old guard to new.
Let's start with Harrison's credentials first.
The Florida state high school record-holder in both the full mile and the 3,200m, he holds personal record times of 4:01.34 and 8:47.43 at those respective distances.
But where Harrison strikes an even greater value is in his ability to perform at a variety of distances: He owns overall times of 1:51.48 for 800m, 3:46.02 for 1,500m and 14:55.00 for 5K in cross country.
Harrison is heralded in cross country as well, owning two Florida State Class 3A Cross Country titles and an AAU National Cross Country Championship from 2020.
Edwards, meanwhile, is a two-time West Virginia state cross country champion who owns a personal record 5K time of 15:00.31 on grass. Outdoors, he produced a rather remarkable feat in 2020: All five of his attempts at 3,200m or two miles were under nine minutes, long considered a benchmark for elite distance runners.
Edwards' time of 8:49.04 in the 3,200m left the season at U.S. No. 8, while his two-mile effort of 8:46.73 from Brooks PR was US No. 5 and the fastest junior time in the country.
Edwards also owns a 1,600m best of 4:05.59.
* Edwards in the mile at the Mason Rod Russell Invitational
- - -
Both athletes have trained under former Tinman Elite coach Tom Schwartz through high school.
Recent recruits such as Evan Holland, Ignatius Fitzgerald and Elliott Cook, along with transfer Caleb Brown, should begin to earn experience in the fall and build toward the outdoor track and field season before Harrison or Edwards even don a jersey.
Harrison has never ranked lower than No. 20 on the MileSplit50 recruiting board since debuting on the first Class of 2022 recruiting list in 2020, just after his first high school outdoor season. He moved up to No. 2 just seven months later after posting a sophomore national class record in the mile. Edwards has been ranked no lower than 14, going from No. 9 to No. 14 to No. 7.
Harrison became the fastest American 16-year-old to run the mile in history in 2019, surpassing Edward Cheserek's former sophomore class record at the time.