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Willie Taggart hires an Oregon assistant — but it’s not Jim Leavitt

Donte Pimpleton
COURTESY OF OREGON ATHLETICS

New Florida State coach Willie Taggart won’t be bringing his defensive coordinator with him from Oregon, but he has hired his former running backs coach.

Jim Leavitt will remain as Oregon’s defensive coordinator after the school offered a contract worth $1.7 million annually. (New Ducks coach Mario Cristobal makes $2.5 million.) From FSU’s standpoint, the hope was Leavitt – a high-level X’s and O’s guy who also is a good recruiter – would move with Taggart. Instead, he will remain with Cristobal.

One Oregon assistant who is heading to Tallahassee is running backs coach Donte Pimpleton (above), who also worked for Taggart at Western Kentucky and USF.

Pimpleton is expected to get a sizeable raise from the $195,000 he was pulling in at Oregon; he probably will make between $225,000 and $250,000.

Pimpleton, 37, is a solid recruiter, and he did good hands-on work at USF with Marlon Mack, who became USF’s leading career rusher while Taggart was coach and Pimpleton his position coach. In addition, USF was able to sway Mack – who starred at Sarasota (Fla.) Booker – away from UCLA, which he is where he made his initial commitment.

Pimpleton had been Oregon’s primary recruiter for three-star athlete Marquez Ezzard, who recently decommitted from FSU. Ezzard (6 feet 1, 213 pounds), from Stockbridge (Ga.) High in the Atlanta suburbs, still is considering FSU, and Pimpleton’s hire likely helps in that regard.

Taggart’s other hire has been Telly Lockette as tight ends coach. Lockette, who had been running backs coach at Oregon State, is a former Miami high school coach who should help FSU’s recruiting in south Florida. Taggart also seems likely to hire Oregon outside linebacker coach Raymond Woodie, a former long-time Tampa Bay area high school coach who also worked for Taggart at Western Kentucky and USF.

RELATED: Hiring Raymond Woodie as an assistant would help recruiting for Willie Taggart, FSU

(James Coleman played fullback at Florida State from 2002-05. You can follow him on Twitter @biggamejames36)

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