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Taggart off to Honolulu to recruit quarterback

EUGENE — Recruiting a quarterback from Hawaii served Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich well at Oregon.

After being introduced as the Ducks’ coach on Thursday, Willie Taggart flew to Honolulu to visit dual-threat quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Tagovailoa, who committed to No. 1 Alabama, played at the same high school (Saint Louis) as Marcus Mariota.

Even though true freshman Justin Herbert appears to have a bright future as Oregon’s starting quarterback, Taggart is hoping to add competition and depth at the most vital position. The other quarterbacks on Oregon’s roster are freshmen Terry Wilson, Taylor Alie and Travis Jonsen.

“He’s a good football player. As a quarterback, he’s got to be a gym rat and a learner,” Taggart said of Herbert. “For me personally, he’s got to be a great leader, a great competitor. And we’ve got to recruit guys to come out and compete against him. Competition is always a great ingredient to help guys get better.”

Herbert completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 1,936 yards and 19 touchdowns with four interceptions last season. The former Sheldon High standout also rushed for 161 yards and two TDs.

Taggart’s quarterback this season at South Florida, Quinton Flowers, ranks 10th in the FBS in total yards (331.3 per game).

“If you want to keep your job, you have to work on all the things you struggle with to get better,” Taggart said of his message to Oregon’s returning players. “Being a freshman, I think there’s no better way to get better than by experience and playing in games. You learn a lot from that and try to build on it.”

Lonely recruiting trail

Taggart, who hasn’t had time to put together a coaching staff, will be recruiting by himself until the dead period begins on Monday.

“Recruiting, recruiting, recruiting,” Taggart said of his first priorities at Oregon. “The most important thing is recruiting the guys that are here now, then get on the road and meet our recruits that are committed to us.”

There are 12 players verbally committed to Oregon’s 2017 class, which is ranked 47th by 247Sports.

A Strong message?

UO president Michael Schill implored Taggart to hire a great defensive coordinator. Taggart is reportedly interested in hiring Charlie Strong, who was recently fired as Texas’ head coach, for the job.

One problem: Strong appears to be on South Florida’s wish list to replace Taggart.

ESPN reported that Strong, a former defensive coordinator at Florida under Urban Meyer before becoming the coach and Louisville and then Texas, was scheduled to meet with South Florida officials on Friday.

Taggart