While the headlines in Eugene this offseason have centered around who will replace Marcus Mariota at quarterback in 2015, there are other key areas where the Oregon Ducks are looking for fresh faces to step up. The biggest area may be along the offensive line, which endured constant shuffling due to injury in 2014 and now needs to replace two key contributors in Hroniss Grasu and Jake Fisher. Luckily for the Ducks, help is on the way in the form of former Notre Dame Fighting Irish center/guard graduate transfer Matt Hegarty.
The fifth-year senior graduated from Notre Dame in May after announcing in March that he would be playing his final year of football somewhere other than South Bend. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound interior lineman started 11 of 13 games for the Irish at center or guard in 2014 and got into 12 games during his junior season in 2013. A former 4-star prospect, Hegarty brings experience and the versatility to play multiple positions to an Oregon line that was searching for some depth this offseason.
He joins a Ducks offensive line that will be without a very familiar face at center now that four-year starter Grasu is off to the NFL. While the team is happy to be getting Tyler Johnstone back from a torn ACL this fall, they still have plenty of uncertainty in the interior of their line and at center in particular. Adding a strong contributor like Hegarty will go a long way in settling matters inside once fall camp opens up this August.
For Oregon to remain successful post-Mariota, they will need to put a strong line in front of whoever ends up winning the quarterback competition in 2015. With Hegarty providing at the very least solid depth to the Oregon offensive line, the high-flying Ducks offense should continue to thrive next season.