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Coaching Quack: Safeties Coach Keith Heyward

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Who is Keith Heyward? Is he an elite recruiter that can also coach or just a recruiter? What does he do? Will he stay long term? Tune in to find out!

Coach: Keith Heyward

Title: Co-Defensive Coordinator / Safeties

Contract: 3 years, $450,000 annual salary, $125,000 in incentives

KH Buyout: 10% of guaranteed salary if leaving before Oregon’s bowl game or Early Signing Period. None owed to school if he is hired by a FBS (D-1) program to be DC with playcalling duties or HC job.

Oregon Buyout: 100% of remaining contract regardless of term left.

Age: 38

Alma Mater: Oregon State

- Heyward is a familiar face for the Ducks as he played cornerback for the rival Beavers. He has spent his entire coaching career on the west coast minus one year at Louisville so he’s very familiar to the Pac-12 recruiting scene. Graduated from Oregon State with a bachelor’s degree in communication. Played professionally in Canada, NFL Europa (kind of a NFL developmental league based in Europe) and finished up in the Arena League. Four year player for the Beavers.

- Began his coaching career under long time Ducks friend Mike Reilly in Corvallis as an graduate assistant after his playing career ended. Moved onto Cal Poly before returning to OSU for four years. Moved on to USC and Washington for two year stints each as DB coach before going to Louisville in the same role.

- Came to Oregon as the defensive backs coach in 2017 on Willie Taggart’s staff from the University of Louisville.

- Known as an excellent recruiter and developer of defensive talent (more on that later).

Recruiting

Best Oregon signee: Jalen Hall. Four star receiver from Cali HS powerhouse Long Beach Poly. 15th ranked recruit in the state, 22nd best at his position, and 127th ranked nationally. Signed with Oregon in the most recent recruiting cycle. Latest updates are that he is dealing with personal issues and is away from the team.

Best Oregon recruit: Jeremiah Criddell. Four star ranked cornerback from legendary Cali power program Mater Dei. Eighth best recruit in the state, sixth at his position, and 53rd ranked nationally. He committed to the Ducks in May 2018. Holds offers from every name program you can think of.

Best Oregon recruit 1B: Sean Dollars. Four star ranked running back that also hails from Mater Dei. Considered to be the best running back recruit in the nation. 20th ranked recruit in the state and 136th nationally. Committed to the Ducks in May along with Criddell.

Best Other recruit: JuJu Smith-Schuster. Five star ranked receiver that was a standout for the Trojans before being drafted in the second round by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017. Had an impressive rookie year for the Steelers and was the best rookie receiver in the class by far. Social media savant. Somehow ranked third in state and at his position. Alumni of Long Beach Poly HS.

Analysis

Yeah, he’s had a pretty solid track record of recruiting on the west coast and in California in particular. He’s in for a lot of great 2019 talent in the state as well. Oregon is blessed to have his recruiting prowess so far. It’s looking great for the Ducks for the foreseeable future.

Player Development

OSU

Jordan Poyer - A seventh round draft pick that was a Pac-12 all conference team member during his senior season. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013. Currently with the Buffalo Bills.

Al Afalava - A sixth round choice by the Chicago Bears. Had a decent four year career in the NFL bouncing around on three teams.

Washington

Desmond Trufant - It could be argued that he is one of the best corners in the NFL today. Drafted the by Atlanta Falcons in 2013 and is still on the team as their top cornerback. Signed a massive 5 year, $68.75 million extension with $20 million guaranteed in 2018.

Marcus Peters - It is said that Peters is the best young shutdown corners in the league. Peters has a ton of talent as evidenced by first round status (Chiefs in 2015) but he has had some character issues. He was kicked off the team during his senior season. Has displayed some attitude issues in the NFL that forced the Chiefs to trade him to the Los Angeles Rams. Expected to start for the talent laden Rams defense. Pro Bowl corner.

Kevin King - A second round pick by the Green Bay Packers in 2017. Had a standout rookie season as a role player pressed into starting duty. He is expected to start for the Packers defense in 2018. A tall and lanky corner that was projected to go early in his draft class.

Sidney Jones - Was a solid piece for the Huskies secondary and a borderline first round prospect until he unfortunately tore his Achilles during Washington’s Pro Day last year. Expected to contribute to the reigning Super Bowl champion Eagles in 2018. Fortunately age is on his side in terms of his injury.

Budda Baker - Baker is an interesting chess piece for the Kansas City Chiefs after being drafted in the second round in 2017. He was a contributor for the above average KC defense last year as a rookie. Expected to contribute more in 2018.

USC

Adoree Jackson - The all world do everything weapon that the Trojans unleashed upon the college football world. Jackson won the Jim Thorpe award (given to the nation’s best defensive back) as a junior. A return ace and a pretty solid cornerback. Drafted in the first round by the Tennessee Titans in 2017. Had a great rookie season overall. Developed nicely under the tutelage of esteemed DC Dick LeBeau. He is expected to start at corner and resume his return duties in 2018.

Leon McQuay III - A former top five star recruit that stood out for the Trojans as a senior. Had some bright flashes but was mainly a solid piece. Drafted by the Chiefs in the sixth round in 2017.

Sua Cravens - He’s had an interesting NFL career to date. Retired due to concussion related issues but recently returned as a member of the Denver Broncos after being drafted by the Washington Redskins. A former top five star recruit that was ranked as the best at his position. He can play as a safety and at linebacker.

Josh Shaw - Best known for jumping a balcony to avoid police when initial stories were that he was trying to save a nephew from drowning. Still, he had enough talent and film to get drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth round. Versatile as both a corner and safety.

Marvell Tell !!! - The next man up in the Trojans secondary. He’s a talented safety prospect that could fly up the draft boards during the 2018 season.

Uchenna Nwosu - He came in as a three star safety recruit and left USC as a highly touted outside linebacker prospect. Drafted by the LA Chargers in the second round. Heyward was his primary recruiter.

Final Summary

The Ducks got an elite recruiter and coach that can develop his players for the next level. Heyward was rumored to follow Willie Taggart to Florida State but chose to stay in Eugene. He’s in for numerous recruits in the 2019 class. I really like his chances of moving up a level to defensive coordinator in coming years. He has experience outside of the secondary as a “passing game coordinator” for the Trojans. Oregon has a great in house candidate to elevate to DC should Jim Leavitt retire or leave. He’s one of the foremost player development coaches in the industry. I think most Ducks fans can forgive his past life as a Beaver for his excellent coaching acumen. In a staff of full of unexpectedly ace recruiters, he’s arguably the top one. Hang onto him as long as you can, Coach Cristobal!