UO Athletic Department

Ducks have 22 recruits in the class of 2017 so far.

Oregon head coach Willie Taggart held his first recruiting media conference on Wednesday and answered an assortment of questions, but the two messages Taggart stressed regarded relationships and seeking the best players to come to Oregon.

“We want the very best kid possible,” said Taggart. “We have to find the very best way to get them.”

Taggart went on to say that he and his staff use social media in order to communicate with athletes, but he was very clear that what he wants in recruiting is to find the athletes who want to join with what the Oregon football program is all about.

“We are truthful,” comment Taggart. “We don’t have anything to hide.”

Taggart came to Oregon just over a month ago after Mark Helfrich was let go and essentially hit the ground running.  His first task was to build relationships with players, parents and high school coaches along the way. Over and over during the near 30 minutes of the media conference, Taggart stressed the word relationship.

Just after assembling the staff, two significant issues arose for the Oregon football program. One was an incident involving Strength and Conditioning Coach Irele Oderinde, in which three players were hospitalized after the first week of conditioning following Christmas and New Year’s break. The second issue occurred when Co-Offensive Coordinator David Reaves was arrested for DUI. The Ducks announced after Reaves’ arrest that he would be terminated. As yet, no successor has been named, though Taggart indicated some updates are imminent.

A question was asked of Taggart how and his staff dealt with the question about the two incidents, and in response Taggart indicated that he was truthful and pointed out that the program used the two incidents to get better and by being truthful found it was much easier to move on.

“We just have to tell the truth,” admitted Taggart. “We have to sell our vision.”

The head coach was also asked if other programs used the incidents as a weapon against Oregon’s recruiting efforts. However, while Taggart acknowledged some attempted to use the incidents against the Ducks, he believes that due to availability of information that negative recruiting backfires and indicated that there was negative recruiting all over, but that turned the potential student-athlete off.

Taggart was also a bit pointed in his comments about how the reporting of the weight room issue was covered and called the reporting “bogus.” He also felt that real story was not told. He reemphasized that he and his coaches are not out to hurt anyone.

So far in the 2017 recruiting class, 22 student athletes have either enrolled or have signed Letters of Intent to enroll. There are a number of players who have not yet filed a letter of intent. One example is Isaac Slade-Matautia, from St. Louis High School in Honolulu with a 3-hour time difference. His LOI could come in later in today. Another  other potential student-athlete Deommodore Lenoir, has not yet announced where he is headed.


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