Oregon Football Spring Practice opens this week in Eugene.
Yes, you read that right- S-P-R-I-N-G Practice. If you know what that is, consider yourself an official Oregon Football fan and go ahead and keep reading.
Just like this time a year ago, Oregon Football finds itself in a new era and under new leadership with previous Head Coach Willie Taggart leaving the program after just one year for the Head Coaching gig at Florida State. His departure didn’t sit well with many fans but it’s entirely possible the program may be in even better hands with new Head Coach, Mario Cristobal, taking over.
With the off season coaching carousel circling several times in the middle of recruiting, signing day (not to mention the holidays), it may have been hard to keep tabs on all the latest departures and additions to the Oregon coaching roster. I’ll admit, it’s my job to keep track and even I had to make a chart and get up-to-speed.
If you find yourself trying to piece it all together, look no further. Here’s a quick recap. . .
Head Coach, Willie Taggart, left for Florida State in Early December. He took a number of coaches with him including:
–Raymond Woodie, Outside Linebackers and Special Team’s Coordinator.
–Donte Pimpleton, Running Backs Coach
–Irele Oderinde, Strength and Conditioning Coordinator
*Cornerbacks Coach, Charles Clark, who joined the Oregon Staff with Defensive Coordinator, Jim Leavitt from Colorado, left to coach at his former Alma Mater, Ole Miss.
Mario Cristobal was promoted from Co-Offensive Coordinator to Head Coach shortly after Taggart’s departure. Cristobal was popular with the players and current staff, most of which have stayed intact. He was also able to secure a strong recruiting class which according to ESPN.com, currently ranks 17th in the country and 3rd in the Pac-12.
The following coaches remain in their 2016-2017 positions and/or have taken on additional assignments:
Joe Salave’a, Associate Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach
This will be Salave’a’s second season with the Ducks after spending 5 years coaching at Washington State. He was a letterman at Arizona and was drafted in 1998 by Tennessee. He spent 8 years in the NFL playing for Tennessee, Baltimore, Washington and San Diego.
Fun Fact: A native of Leone, American Samoa, Salave’a started the Joe Salave’a Foundation in 2001 which specializes in putting on youth football clinics in America Samoa and Hawaii (goducks.com).
Marcus Arroyo, Offensive Coordinator/ Quarterbacks and Tight Ends Coach
This will be Arroyo’s second season with the Ducks after spending two years as running backs coach at Oklahoma State. He has experience coaching nearly every offensive position and has coached in the NFL. Arroyo was hired to coach quarterbacks at Tampa Bay in 2014 but ended up serving as the interim Offensive Coordinator for one year.
Fun Fact: Arroyo’s social media game is on point! Just check out this Gem!
Jim Leavitt, Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebacker’s Coach
This will be Leavitt’s second season with the Ducks. Leavitt has an extensive collegiate and professional coaching tree. Just prior to coming to Oregon, Leavitt served as Colorado’s Defensive Coordinator for two seasons and was instrumental in turning the program around. In just one season with the Ducks, it was easy to see how strong of a coach he is as the Oregon defense made huge strides after a terrible defensive run the two seasons before.
Fun Fact: Prior to coaching at Colorado, Leavitt spent 4 years coaching under Head Coach Jim Harbaugh at San Francisco. During his time there, Leavitt helped the team to a 44-19-1 record and most notably, an appearance in Super Bowl XLVII as linebackers coach. He’s also obsessed with Pepsi 🙂
Keith Heyward, Safeties Coach
This will be Heyward’s second season with the Ducks. Prior to coming to Oregon, Heyward coached defensive backs and/or the secondary at Oregon State, USC, Washington and Louisville.
Fun Fact: Heyward is originally a Beaver, playing defensive back for Oregon State, graduating in 2000.
Michael Johnson, Wide Receivers Coach
This will be Johnson’s second season with the Ducks. He brings a wealth of coaching experience including 10 years in the NFL, where he successfully coached at San Francisco, Baltimore, Atlanta and San Diego. He has also coached at the collegiate level at both Oregon State and UCLA.
Fun Fact: During his coaching tenure, Johnson has been instrumental in developing several standout NFL quarterbacks including Michael Vick and Drew Brees.
The following coaches have been added to the Oregon coaching staff:
Cort Dennison, Outside Linebackers Coach
This will be Dennison’s first season with the Ducks. Dennison has been described by Head Coach Cristobal as a “rising star” in the coaching industry. He is also considered to be a great recruiter.
Dennison spent the past four years coaching at Louisville where he also worked alongside Oregon ‘s current Safeties Coach, Keith Heyward.
Fun Fact: Dennison was a team captain for the Washington Huskies during his collegiate career. He was the team’s most outstanding defensive player as a senior in 2011.
Jim Mastro, Running Backs Coach
This will be Mastro’s first season with the Ducks. He brings a wealth of coaching experience to the table, including several years coaching in the Pac-12, most notably at Washington State where he coached running backs for the past 6 seasons. He is described by Head Coach, Mario Cristobal, as a “strict disciplinarian.”
Fun Fact: While coaching at Nevada in 2009, Mastro became the only position coach in history with three 1,000-yard rushers in the same season.
Alex Mirabal, Centers and Guards Coach
This will be Mirabal’s first season with the Ducks after spending the past five seasons coaching the offensive line at Marshall University. Prior to coaching at Marshall, Mirabal served as the assistant head coach for six years at FIU (2007-12) under Cristobal who has described him as a great teacher with great attention to detail.
Fun Fact: As reported by the Daily Emerald, Coach Mirabal and Coach Cristobal, both from Miami, met and became friends while Freshman at the same high school.
Bobby Williams, Special Teams Coordinator
This will be Williams’ first season with the Ducks. He brings over 30 years of impressive professional and collegiate coaching experience to the team and comes to Oregon after spending the past ten seasons at Alabama, coaching tight ends and special teams. He also served as Assistant Head Coach to Head Coach Nick Saban in 2016 and 2017 wherein the team played and/or won the BCS National Championship. Enough Said.
Donte Williams, Cornerbacks Coach
This will be Williams’ first season with the Duck after spending the past two seasons coaching cornerbacks at Arizona (2016) and Nebraska (2017). Williams has also coached at several other colleges and Universities and is considered to be a strong recruiter. He is described by Head Coach Cristobal as having high energy and was named by Sports Illustrated as a top10 recruiter in college football in 2015.
Aaron Feld, Strengths and Conditioning Coordinator
This is Feld’s first season with the Ducks. He comes to Oregon from the University of Georgia, where he spent the previous three years as the assistant director of strength and conditioning. Prior to working at Georgia, Feld was the head strength coach at the University of North Alabama and a volunteer strength coach at the University of Alabama, where he worked with Head Coach Cristobal.
Head Coach Cristobal credited Feld’s experience developing mental and physical toughness as making him uniquely qualified for the position.
Who’s ready for some Football? Ok, fine. It might just be our annual football tease, but we’ll take it!
Now that you’re up to speed on who’s in charge, make sure to follow the Oregon Coaches on Twitter. You can also follow me while you’re at it! Do it!
Mario Christobal- @Coach_Cristobal
Joe Salave’a- @CoachJSalavea
Marcus Arroyo- @coacharroyTheO
Donte Williams- @CoachD_UofO
Jim Mastro- @jim_mastro
Cort Dennison- @Coach_Dennison
Keith Heyward- @CoachHeyward
Alex Mirabel- @CoachMirabal