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Ex-Duck Dungy says new hire a big hit

Nobody knows both Oregon football and Willie Taggart better than Eric Dungy.

After playing three seasons for Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich at Oregon, the wide receiver transferred to play his final season under Taggart at South Florida in 2014.

“I am excited for him. He’s a great coach and I think he will do very well at Oregon,” Dungy said Wednesday morning after the Ducks officially announced Taggart as their new coach. “He’s charismatic and likes to have fun.”

Dungy knows there are high expectations at Oregon that led to Helfrich’s firing after going 4-8 in his fourth season on the job. His father, Tony, gave Taggart a recommendation for the job.

“I want fans to be patient because it took a couple years to get South Florida right,” he said. “I hope they understand it’s a process to turn a program around and instill what he wants to do. If they give him time, it will turn around like USF and Western Kentucky, but it won’t happen overnight.”

Dungy played in 20 games and caught seven passes for Oregon from 2011-13 before transferring to South Florida for Taggart’s second season on the job.

“He’s a cool dude,” Dungy said. “I remember our first practice in training camp and he was out throwing passes in one-on-one drills. He was still trying to get it right when I was out there. It wasn’t quite where USF is now winning 10 games and scoring a lot of points, but they were getting on the cusp of that and you could see it coming together.”

USF went 4-8 during Dungy’s season, and then he watched as Taggart adjusted his offense, finishing 8-5 in 2015 and 10-2 this season.

“During my year there we were still running a lot more of coach Jim Harbaugh’s offense, more pro-style,” Dungy said, noting that Taggart spent three seasons as an assistant to Harbaugh at Stanford. “Then we had players coming in that were more spread-type players. I wasn’t in the program the last two years, but I saw from a distance it resembled Oregon more. He adapted his game and changed the offense the last couple years.”

Dungy said he is interested to see how Taggart adapts to Oregon.

“He’s got a lot of great facilities at his disposal that when he recruited at other schools, he didn’t have,” said Dungy, who is working in real estate in Florida.

“He got great athletes to USF and Western Kentucky. I’m curious to see, they talk about the Oregon way, how that will go. If he’ll implement some of the sports science and recovery methods they use and how that will merge. I’m sure he will have his own spin on a few things, so it will be interesting to see what he changes.”