Feb. 5, 1997: Ducks sign Akili Smith, Joey Harrington

by: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: KYLE GREEN - JOEY HARRINGTONOregon football coach Mike Bellotti raves about one of his letter-of-intent signings, QB Akili Smith, who is rated the No. 1 junior-college prospect in the country.

"A gifted athlete," Bellotti says. "I'm very, very excited about him."

Getting less publicity is signee Joey Harrington out of Central Catholic High, although Harrington is ranked No. 8 nationally among prep signal-callers.

But the Ducks, coming off a 6-5 season, remain anxious about recruit Ruben Vaughan, a prized linebacker who has given an oral commitment to Oregon but has not yet signed.

Meanwhile, Oregon State coach Mike Riley has replaced Jerry Pettibone as coach, and the Beavers (2-9 in 1996) announce that their top signee is quarterback Nick Stremick from Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif.

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