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Ducks sign nation’s top long-snapper

EUGENE — Oregon signed another player to a national letter of intent on Friday.

But the three-day early signing period ended with a what-might-have-been feeling for the Ducks after two high-profile players committed to the program before Willie Taggart’s departure signed elsewhere.

Karsten Battles, the nation’s top-ranked long snapper prospect from San Antonio officially became the 15th player in Oregon’s 2018 recruiting class.

“When I started my journey as a football player, I never could’ve dreamed it would bring me here,” Battles posted on social media.

“Thanks to Coach (Mario) Cristobal and the staff of the opportunity, and I can’t wait to be a Duck!”

Battles fills a need as senior long snapper Tanner Carew finished his collegiate career at the Las Vegas Bowl.

Two four-star recruits who were verbally committed to Oregon when Taggart was the head coach — Tigard athlete Braden Lenzy and Florida cornerback Isaiah Bolden — signed with other programs.

Lenzy will play for Notre Dame, and Bolden will play for Taggart at Florida State.

“I committed to Oregon because the program checked a lot of boxes for me,” Lenzy wrote in a story for The Players’ Tribune. “I’d been an Ducks fan my entire life and I loved Eugene. I’d be close to home, have the opportunity to also compete on an amazing track team … But what sold me more than anything was Coach Taggart’s vision for me with the program. He made it really easy for me to picture my role in the offense and how I’d be able to develop.”

Taggart left for Florida State after coaching the Ducks to a 7-5 finish during his only season at Oregon. The Ducks lost 38-28 to No. 25 Boise State in Cristobal’s debut as coach at the Las Vegas Bowl.

Lenzy and Bolden both decommitted from Oregon before Cristobal was hired and retained defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo and defensive line coach Joe Salave’a.

Bolden, who is from Seffner, Fla., put an Oregon backpack on a table at his signing day announcement, then pulled a Florida State hat out of it to announce his decision to play for Taggart and the Seminoles.

“I expected to be in green and yellow right now,” Bolden said. “But things change.”

Cristobal signed 13 players Wednesday, Texas defensive back Verone McKinley on Thursday and added Battles on Friday.

Oregon also has verbal commitments from linebacker Andrew Johnson of Tifton, Ga., offensive lineman Justin Johnson of Philadelphia, defensive lineman Jonathan King of Tampa, Fla., tight end/defensive end Teagan Quitoriano of Salem, tight end Spencer Webb of Sacramento and linebacker Eli’jah Winston of Portland.

The traditional signing day is Feb. 7.

Oregon’s class is ranked No. 13 by Rivals and No. 15 by 247Sports.