Ducks, as the saying goes, fly together. The Oregon Ducks seem to do so, as well. When Oregon coach Willie Taggart’s father, John, died on Thursday, his players offered an outpouring of support for their coach, on social media and in speaking to the media at training camp.
sorry for your loss coach. The team an all of the commits are here for you. We are ALL family 🙏🏾
— M.Battle⁵𓅓 (@milesbattle2) August 11, 2017
Duck nation's prayers are with you💛💚
— Dawson Jaramillo (@dawsonjaramillo) August 11, 2017
The Pac-12 Conference — and the college football nation as a whole — also offered its sympathies, including some of Oregon’s biggest rivals.
— OSU Beaver Fan (@OSU_Beaver4life) August 11, 2017
We lost a good man with passing of John Taggart, a hard working man who, along with Gloria, raised a beautiful family – Lots of family love!
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) August 11, 2017
— 5 Star ⭐ Coach T TMP (@CoachTTMP) August 11, 2017
This year will be Taggart’s first on the Oregon sidelines, taking over after Mark Helfrich was fired following a 4-8 season in 2016, Oregon’s worst record in 25 years. Though Taggart, who led South Florida to a 10-2 record a year ago, has yet to coach a game, his impact is being felt in the recruiting world.
For the Class of 2018, Taggart has landed 22 commitments, ranking No. 5 in the nation — at one point, Oregon was No. 1 — and tops in the Pac-12.
The impression he has made with his current team seems to be a strong one, given the players’ unequivocal support for their first-year head coach.
“I know Coach Taggart, he’s a very strong man. The team is backing him up,” defensive lineman Elijah George told the Register Guard. “I know it’s a tough time. We’re going to be here to support him. We all understand how tough it is, we’ve had some teammates lose parents, too.
“We know the process is not easy, but we’ll be here when he needs us and we’ll support him all the way.”