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Willie Taggart’s Starting 11: Jake Hanson, Center

The sophomore center is back and better than ever

NCAA Football: Colorado at Oregon Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon sophomore Jake Hanson will start at center for the Ducks during the 2017 season. Like teammate Shane Lemieux, Hanson started all 12 games last year as a redshirt freshman.

We are just 19 days away from Oregon’s first game against Southern Utah on Saturday, September 2 at Autzen Stadium.

If you missed any of my 11-part series projecting the defense, you can find it at ATQ. Now, it’s time for the offensive starter projections for Willie Taggart’s 2017-18 team.

WILLIE TAGGART’S 11

QUARTERBACK - Justin Herbert (Tuesday)

RUNNING BACK - Royce Freeman (Wednesday)

WIDE RECEIVER - Charles Nelson (Thursday)

WIDE RECEIVER - Dillon Mitchell (Friday)

TIGHT END - Jacob Breeland (Saturday)

LEFT TACKLE - Tyrell Crosby (Sunday)

LEFT GUARD - Shane Lemieux (Monday)

STARTING CENTER, JAKE HANSON

The Duck coaching staff was actually thinking about forfeiting a redshirt season for Hanson in 2015. They felt he was mature enough then to make a difference. However, it was finally realized that he will be great for years to come with one year to learn.

Jake Hanson (right) and freshman Logan Bathke (left) watch their teammates battle it out at Oregon’s 2017 fall training camp. Hanson needs to lead with his communication skills if the Ducks want to be successful this season.
Photo courtesy of Tony Piraro

After sitting his true freshman campaign, the 6-foot-5 center started every game in 2016. His impact was felt, as the Ducks finished fifth in the Pac-12 in rushing (226.4 P/G). Oregon finished just 103 yards shy of the league leaders from Tuscon.

This season, Hanson has taken to a leadership role with so many youthful linemen on campus these days. Last season, Oregon was starting freshmen all over the line. This campaign, there could be a rotation under Mario Cristobal’s philosophy.

“There’s nothing like having competition,” said head coach Willie Taggart. “Coach Cristobal does a great job getting his guys ready for practice.”

If the young Duck line can stay healthy, watch out. With three sophomores projected to start, maturity and communication will be the keys for success. As we saw in 2016, if the line breaks down the rest of the offense will follow.

THE FINAL VERDICT

The center is usually the vocal leader of the group and Hanson is no different. He, alongside Crosby and Lemieux, will help lead the Ducks to the No. 1 rushing rank in the Pac-12 Conference. A season after finishing fifth overall in rushing yards, the Ducks will run away with the rushing crown (3,122 yards) in 2017. Hanson will start all 12 games, extending his streak to 24 straight at Oregon. After the departure of his backup Zach Okun from the football program last week, Hanson will need to shoulder a majority of the snaps. He will be a 1st Team Pac-12 All-Academic member, alongside being named to the Pac-12 Honorable Mention unit for a second straight year.

Part 9 of Willie Taggart’s Starting 11 series will continue on Wednesday.

Stay tuned on Instagram @eugene_levys_eyebrows and Twitter @TheQuackFiend