Oregon gains one coach, loses another

EUGENE — Mario Cristobal made his first outside staff hire as Oregon’s football coach with the addition of assistant Donte Williams on Thursday.

Williams, who spent last season coaching cornerbacks for Mike Riley at Nebraska and held the same position at Arizona in 2016, will coach outside linebackers with the Ducks.

Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt coaches the inside linebackers.

“We are excited to add Donte to the staff,” Cristobal said in a news release. “His leadership skills and impact on student-athletes will be of great benefit to our program. Donte is an excellent coach and a nationally recognized top recruiter, and we look to forward to utilizing his efforts, knowledge and energy to move our program forward.”

The hiring of Williams was announced shortly after Sports Illustrated reported that Oregon cornerbacks coach Charles Clark, a former Mississippi player, is leaving to be the Rebels’ new defensive backs coach.

Clark followed Leavitt from Colorado to Oregon in 2017 after spending four seasons with the Buffaloes.

Two other Willie Taggart assistants, running backs coach Donte Pimpleton and special teams coordinator/outside linebackers coach Raymond Woodie, left to join the one-and-done Oregon coach at Florida State.

Cristobal has retained Leavitt, offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo, defensive line coach Joe Salave’a, safeties coach Keith Heyward and wide receivers coach Michael Johnson.

All five assistants were given raises and contract extensions after the Ducks finished 7-6 overall with a 38-28 loss to No. 25 Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Williams was named a top 10 recruiter by Sports Illustrated and the top recruiter in the Mountain West by 247Sports during his three-year stint as an assistant at San Jose State (2013-15).

“To be honest, if everybody likes what I’m doing as a recruiter, or feels comfortable with me as a recruiter, they have no idea what I am as a coach,” Williams told the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star last February after helping Riley sign a top 25 recruiting class at Nebraska.

“I’ve always said this: If you had to say the top five things about me as far as coaching or recruiting, coaching would be ranked 1, 2, 3, 4. Recruiting would be 5. It’s not even close.

“So if they think I’m a good recruiter, just let them come to practice or watch us on a gameday and they’re going to see how I am as a coach.”

Oregon landed 15 recruits during the early signing period last month but is trying to bolster the 2018 class, which is ranked 13th by Rivals and 15th by 247Sports, before the traditional signing day on Feb. 7.

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