Continuity clutch for Ducks
Mario Cristobal deserves credit for holding Oregon’s coaching staff together in December.
After Willie Taggart left for Florida State, the program’s new head coach was able to retain Jim Leavitt (defensive coordinator), Marcus Arroyo (offensive coordinator), Joe Salave’a (defensive line), Keith Heyward (safeties) and Michael Johnson.
On national signing day, Cristobal credited three incoming recruits for helping to keep the bulk of the 2018 class together during a stressful couple months for the program.
Philadelphia offensive lineman Justin Johnson and California safties Jevon Holland and Steve Stephens did their best to promote Oregon’s “brotherhood” to other prospects on social media from coast to coast.
“Probably the best recruiters on the football team and our staff,” Cristobal said of the trio during his press conference on Wednesday at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex. “These guys were incredible. They led the brotherhood, they led the charge, they never wavered.
“I’m so proud of them because it’s not hard to identify the future leaders of your program. These guys certainly stood out.”
No hard feelings
Taggart’s first recruiting class at Florida State shot up to No. 11 in the rankings. Several former Oregon verbal commitments, including four-star receivers Warren Thompson and Tre’Shaun Harrison and four-star cornerback Isaiah Bolden, signed with the Seminoles.
Cristobal wasn’t worried about any of the prospects being flipped following the coaching change.
“As long as you keep things professional, it is what it is. It’s part of the industry,” Cristobal said. “Willie Taggart was very good to me. I understand the processes that go with it and I understand there’s a dynamic there that is interesting, especially from a media standpoint.”
More homework to do
Two in-state prospects, offensive lineman Dawson Jaramillo (Lake Oswego) and linebacker MJ Cunningham (Madison), signed with Oregon in December.
Tigard athlete Braden Lenzy flipped to Notre Dame after Taggart’s exit, and Portland linebacker Eli’jah Winston flipped to USC on Tuesday. The other in-state prospect verbally committed to the Ducks, Salem athlete Teagan Quitoriano, has yet to sign a national letter of intent.