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Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

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Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.

Clemson grad transfer Scott Pagano opts for Oregon over Oklahoma

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We already knew the two schools a prominent graduate transfer would move on to. Now we know which one specifically.

On his Instagram account Friday, Scott Pagano announced that he has decided to transfer to Oregon for his final season of eligibility.  The 6-3, 295-pound defensive tackle had confirmed earlier in the week that he would be committing to either Oregon or Oklahoma.

To My Family, Friends and Supporters: I want to thank all of you who supported me and my decision to transfer over the last few months. When I announced my intentions, I didn’t know how people would react.  Thankfully almost everyone was respectful of my decision and wished me well on my journey. I’m very appreciative of that and it definitely speaks volumes of the class and character of my Clemson Family.  After taking several visits, I can honestly say there is no place like Clemson. A part of me will always miss Clemson and the relationships I have built here. I’ll definitely be back to visit. After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to transfer to the University of Oregon for my final year of eligibility and to pursue a Sports Management Master’s. This was a tough decision because of all the great programs that expressed interest in me along with having to leave Clemson. I want to thank all the coaches that took the time to get to know me during this process. However, Oregon is where I felt most at home and it is a great fit for me both on and off the field. I can’t wait to get to Eugene to start making new friends and playing for and learning from one of the best DLine coaches in the country. Last but definitely not least, I have to thank my mom, dad, sisters and the rest of my family for supporting me through this process and my entire football career. I know these past few months were not easy on you. I want you to know that I am thankful and feel blessed to have a family who is willing to make sacrifices day end and day out so that I can pursue my dreams. Mahalo and Go Ducks!!!

A post shared by Scott J Pagano Jr. (@scottpagano56) on Apr 14, 2017 at 9:03am PDT

Pagano had previously taken official visits to both Oklahoma and Oregon.  Arkansas, Notre Dame and Texas were also among the lineman’s five allotted official visits in his second round of collegiate recruiting.  Cal and Nebraska were also a part of the process.

Pagano graduated from Clemson in December.  Two months later, the defensive lineman decided to transfer from the reigning national champions.

Coming out of high school in Hawaii as a four-star 2013 recruit, Pagano was rated as the No. 24 tackle in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state. He started 13 games the past two seasons, four of which came in 2016.

Either Oklahoma or Oregon to be next home for Clemson graduate transfer Scott Pagano

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Nearly two months after deciding to transfer from Clemson, Scott Pagano is on the verge of pulling the trigger on his next collegiate destination.

According to the South Bend Tribune, Pagano informed the website via a text message that he will transfer to either Oklahoma or Oregon.  The defensive tackle will make his decision known at some point Friday.

Pagano had previously taken official visits to both Oklahoma and Oregon.  Arkansas, Notre Dame and Texas were also among the lineman’s five allotted official visits in his second round of collegiate recruiting.  Cal and Nebraska were also a part of the process.

As a graduate transfer, Pagano will be immediately eligible at either the Big 12 or Pac-12 program.  The upcoming season will be his final year of eligibility.

Coming out of high school in Hawaii as a four-star 2013 recruit, Pagano was rated as the No. 24 tackle in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state. He started 13 games the past two seasons, four of which came in 2016.

Former Oregon assistant David Reaves pleads no contest to drunk driving charge

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Former Oregon assistant David Reaves pleaded no contest to charges of DUII, careless driving and refusal of a breath test, ending a saga that cost the embattled his assistant his job in January.

Hired at Oregon to follow Willie Taggart from South Florida to Eugene, Reaves was arrested in late January for driving with a .14 blood alcohol content, nearly twice the legal limit. He was quickly placed on administrative leave, then resigned. He was paid $60,000 and change on a 2-year contract that was set to pay him a total of $600,000.

The arrest happened so early in Reaves’s brief Oregon tenure that he had not yet moved to Eugene, meaning he had to fly in from his Tampa home to make his initial court appearance. Reaves was not present on Monday and offered no comment.  “Mr. Reaves was accused of these allegations and it cost him significantly,” attorney Hugh Duvall said, via The Oregonian. “He is back at his home in Tampa and still in the process of putting the pieces back together after this.”

As terms of Reaves’s plea, he was sentenced to a court-ordered diversion program, to abstain from alcohol and drugs for one year, to blow into an ignition interlock device before starting his car, to attend a Victim Impact Panel equivalent in Florida, and to pay a $965 fine. The case against Reaves will be dismissed following his completion of the diversion program.

The additional charges were dropped in exchange for Reaves’s no-contest plea.

A&M WR Kirk Merritt facing charges for allegedly exposing himself to tutors

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Another day, another headline I’d never imagined I’d ever write.

According to the Houston Chronicle‘s Brent Zwerneman, Texas A&M wide receiver Kirk Merritt pleaded not guilty late last month to a pair of indecent exposure charges.  The charges stem from a pair of incidents from last October, and allegedly involve Merritt exposing himself to female academic tutors.

From Zwerneman’s report:

In one count, an alleged victim accused Merritt of exposing and touching himself “while sitting in arm’s reach” of her “on or about” Oct. 24. About a day later according to a court document, another alleged victim claimed Merritt pulled down his shorts and held himself also “while sitting in arm’s reach” of her. The document describes both alleged victims as “offended or alarmed by the act of exposure.”

Both of the victims were tutors at A&M, a person with knowledge of the case said.

The university has yet to comment publicly on the development.  Merritt, the Chronicle notes, has been participating in A&M’s spring practice.

Merritt had announced last June that he would be transferring from Oregon because of what he described as unspecified “family situations back home” in Louisiana.  The next month, the receiver announced he would be transferring to A&M.

To satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Merritt sat out the 2016 season.  Counting this season, he has three years of eligibility remaining.

A four-star 2015 recruit, Merritt was rated as the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Louisiana. Playing in 12 games as a true freshman, Merritt caught five passes for 61 yards. He added another 13 yards on three carries.