Royce Freeman will be back for the Oregon Ducks in 2017, and the chance to play for new head coach Willie Taggart is a major reason why.
Freeman, who could very well become the program's all-time leader in rushing yards and touchdowns with a big 2017 campaign, announced his return today through Oregon's website.
In the release, he thanks former head coach Mark Helfrich and his staff, and cites the chance to play for Willie Taggart as one of the deciding factors in his decision to come back.
"After consulting with my family and giving this considerable thought, I feel this is the best decision for me in regards to my future on and off the field," Freeman said. "My education was one of the most important reasons I chose to come to Oregon and that priority hasn't changed.
"I wish to thank Coach (Mark) Helfrich and the entire coaching staff for the roles they have played in my success thus far. I am extremely grateful to Coach (Gary) Campbell for everything he has taught me and the influence he has had in my life over the last three years.
"However, the prospect of playing for Coach (Willie) Taggart my final year here was certainly a factor in my return. His enthusiasm and vision for this program are contagious. I am excited to be coached by him and to enhance my development."
Looking at Taggart's USF offense, and you can see why a top back would want the chance to play in it. This year, the Bulls' quarterback-running back combination of Quinton Flowers and Marlon Mack combined for 2,562 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Injuries limited Royce Freeman to 945 yards and nine touchdowns this past season, his lowest outputs of his career. As a freshman, Freeman rushed for 1,365 yards and 18 touchdowns, and followed that up with a sophomore campaign that saw him piled up 1,836 yards and 17 touchdowns. A return to form for Freeman would be a real boon to Taggart's first Oregon season.