Column: Can Willie Taggart Recruit?

Can Willie Taggart Recruit? // @GoDucksTroll

Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football, let’s hope that Willie Taggart is able to get some of those roads paved for his new Ferrari.

It’s the biggest catch to being handed the Ferrari that is Oregon football: recruiting. You may have a Ferrari, but you have to take dirt roads to get to your house. It’s not easy to recruit in a state that produces between 10-15 Pac-12 quality recruits per year. Even more so when you have to compete with the glamour of USC, the academic prestige of Stanford, and the rising team in the North that manages to make me dislike an otherwise cute dog breed.

We know recruiting to Oregon is possible, but it takes a special energy to translate those jaw-dropping facilities and incredible success over the past 20+ years into quality recruiting classes. The current roster consists of guys from all over the nation, and has plenty of blue chip recruits. There has been a drop off since the recruiting high water mark, and it will be up to Willie Taggart to reverse that.

Can he? Can Willie Taggart recruit?

All indications are yes. Looking at his track record at USF is the logical start. The Bulls have out recruited some schools from power-5 conferences, and Taggart has landed several four star prospects which is very difficult for smaller conference schools to do.

I interviewed one of USF’s current commits, speedy three star athlete Demetri Burch of Apopka, Florida. I asked him about his experience being recruited by Willie Taggart:

“Coach Taggart is a good dude and he was the reason I decided to commit to USF and he always finds the good out of things.”

Taggart has also received some very high praise from his college coach at Western Kentucky and the man who gave him his first coaching job:  football coaching savant sire Jack Harbaugh. In a interview Harbaugh said “I have been a coach for 46 years, and Willie Taggart is the best recruiter I’ve ever been associated with.” I don’t blame Jack if he doesn’t want to associate with his son Jim, but that is indeed a glowing endorsement.

Coach Taggart has been in the fertile recruiting grounds of Florida, but he was also on Jim Harbaugh’s Stanford staff for three years so he’s familiar with the landscape of the Pac-12. While Oregon has made successful forays into Texas, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee the bread and butter of Oregon recruiting is in Pac-12 territory. Taggart and his staff will need to establish West Coast connections and they need to do it quick.

Hanging on to the current class is Taggart’s top priority right now. The recruiting class has lost three commits in the past few weeks, including their top commit in Deommodore Lenoir. The recruiting dead period, which forbids contact with recruits, begins on December 12th. It will be up to Taggart and whoever fills out his staff to contact the commits, the recruits who have interest in Oregon and any other targets they may identify.

It will also be interesting to see if Taggart tries to flip any of his current USF recruits to come to Eugene. The gem of his current class is Bruce Judson, the 247 composite’s 333rdranked player in the nation. There are some other commits that he may want to come with him, including Burch who said

“Oregon is my dream school but recruitment has been so crazy but I know coach Taggart is the reason why a couple of us committed to USF so that can happen.”

I’ll also be curious to see how his staff fills out, and if any current Oregon assistants are retained. Recruiting at Oregon has seemed to fall a bit behind the times, with the team finally making a concerted effort to improve their social media skills this year after falling behind other Pac-12 schools. An infusion of youth and energy is desperately needed on the staff, and the hope is that it will offset the lost continuity and experience that comes with this move.


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