Back in early December, Willie Taggart visited Oregon quarterback commit Tyler Shough at Shough’s home in Chandler, Arizona.
The two, along with Oregon’s quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo, discussed everything Oregon, an obvious subject on a visit like this one. But Shough said the meeting had a “weird vibe to it.”
That’s because at the time, rumors were flying about how Taggart was a top candidate for the Florida State head coaching job.
Two days after his visit with Shough, Taggart left.
“It was definitely weird,” Shough said on Tuesday, his first time speaking to the media. “I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen. He was definitely promoting Oregon at the time.”
But once Shough (pronounced “Shuck”) heard that Oregon would retain Mario Cristobal and Arroyo, he upheld his commitment. He is now a Duck and excited to be one. He enrolled at Oregon in January and has been taking classes and practicing with the team since his arrival.
“The speed and the tempo, everything is definitely faster up here,” Shough said. “It’s definitely been a good ride so far. I’ve learned a lot.”
The former 4-star recruit has also impressed coaches in his first several weeks with the Ducks. As spring practices come to a close, Shough and Braxton Burmeister are locked in a competition for the backup quarterback role.
Shough said the two have become good friends through the competition and have enjoyed battling in practices.
“We make each other better,” Shough said. “He does some things I can’t. I do some things he can’t. So we just learn from each other and just get better overall.”
Being an early-enrollee, Shough is trying to take advantage of all the opportunities he can. Cristobal said he’ll jump into drills voluntarily and hasn’t backed away from any challenges.
“Tyler is really talented. He’s really smart,” Cristobal said. “What stands out about him most in the offseason is that he’s a relentless competitor.”
In addition to learning from Burmeister, Shough is leaning on fellow quarterback Justin Herbert as mentor.
“I’ve definitely been asking him about plays,” Shough said. “You know, ‘What do you think about this coverage?, what do you think about this?, what classes are you taking?’ Stuff like that, because he’s definitely been through it.
“I definitely look up to him.”
Oregon’s lack of quarterback depth last year doomed its season as it went 1-4 in the five games that Herbert didn’t start. Now, with Shough and a more experienced Burmeister, Cristobal feels more confident with the options he’ll have at backup this season.
“Tyler, him and Braxton, they’re what you want at that position,” Cristobal said. “Competitors that are tough and hard-nosed and that want to get better.”
They’ll get the opportunity to showcase their skills in Oregon’s spring game on Saturday. Cristobal said the two will get even reps in the scrimmage, which will also be Shough’s first experience playing in front a crowd at Autzen Stadium.
“That’s definitely going to a first experience for sure,” Shough said. “I’m definitely excited for it.”
Follow Gus Morris on Twitter @JustGustMorris