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Jim Leavitt’s Starting 11: Scott Pagano, Defensive Tackle

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The Clemson transfer will provide a boost to the defense

Louisville v Clemson Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images

Aside from the new coaching regime, Scott Pagano transferring to Oregon was the biggest move of the Duck offseason. The former Clemson defensive tackle is ready to complete his college football career in style.

We are just 37 days away from Oregon’s first game against Southern Utah on Saturday, September 2 at Autzen Stadium.

Here are my projections for the defensive and offensive starters of Willie Taggart’s 2017-18 team. Let’s get caught up with what you missed:

JIM LEAVITT’S 11

SAFETY - Brenden Schooler (Monday)

CORNERBACK - Arrion Springs (Tuesday)

LINEBACKER - Troy Dye (Wednesday)

STARTING DEFENSIVE TACKLE, SCOTT PAGANO

Florida State v Clemson
Scott Pagano certainly left Clemson after the best possible scenario of winning a national title. However, he was not satisfied with the Tigers. Therefore, the grad transfer will end his college career in Eugene with head coach Willie Taggart.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The 6-foot-3 graduate transfer decided to leave Clemson after winning the 2017 National Championship vs Alabama.

“I want to thank all the coaches that took the time to get to know me during this process,” said Pagano. “However, Oregon is where I felt most at home and it is a great fit for me both on and off the field.”

Pagano made official visits to both Oregon and Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Notre Dame, Texas, and Arkansas rounded out his Top 5. Nebraska and Cal were also in the mix. After graduating from Clemson in December, Pagano made his transfer decision 60 days later. Defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt was not disappointed by it.

If coincidence means anything to you, Pagano is a product of Honolulu like you know who. Anytime you’re comparing Mr. Marcus Mariota to anyone, it’s a great thing. Hopefully, Pagano conducts himself in a similar “Mariota” manner on and off the field.

Last season, Pagano earned himself a share of the defensive 12th Man Award at Clemson. He amassed 31 tackles, 4.5 for loss. Pagano started four games and appeared in 12 overall. The Hawaiian recorded two sacks.

He suffered a foot injury against Pittsburgh, forcing him to miss three games during the championship season. When he’s completely healthy, Pagano will be ready to rumble for his new coaches and teammates.

If he can’t shake the injuries, freshman freak athlete Jordon Scott will take over. The youngster has already lost 20 pounds in preparation for the upcoming season. His upside is limitless. Scott is going to be special at some point, possibly next year. Regardless, he provides great value on the depth chart this season.

NCAA Football: Oregon Spring Practice
The possibilities are endless with defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt. With the addition of Scott Pagano, the secondary will have an opportunity to flourish with the defensive tackle creating havoc up front. Last year, Pagano received Clemson’s prestigious 12th Man Award. This year, he will be a critical starter for Oregon.
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

A major missing ingredient last season was a presence on the Ducks’ defensive line. Nobody was creating chaos within the front four, therefore the secondary was getting torched on a weekly basis. Pagano can change all that this year. His presence alone will draw double teams, enabling his teammates the freedom to make plays.

THE FINAL VERDICT

I'm sorry to disappoint everyone today, but Pagano will NOT score a touchdown this season. (He probably will now that I said he wouldn't). His stats may not raise eyebrows, but his pressure on the quarterback will.

Pagano’s presence makes a huge difference to the tune of 39 tackles, 8.5 for loss, 14 quarterback pressures, six sacks and a fumble recovery. His leadership and experience will be invaluable to Oregon’s young defensive group.

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