Credit: Eugene Register-Guard

247 is reporting tonight that Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavittt is leaving the program.

The report adds that the Ducks are expected to promote co-defensive coordinator / safeties coach Keith Heyward to the defensive coordinator spot.

Leavitt has spent the past two seasons a Oregon and elected to stay in Eugene following the departure of Willie Taggart to Florida State. Leavitt, and current Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal were among the candidates interviewed to replace Taggart.

The Ducks defensive coordinator was set to make $1.7 million this season and had signed a four-year deal to stay in Eugene after Taggart left.

The former head coach at South Florida from 1997-2009, Leavitt left his post as the defensive coordinator at Colorado after turning around their defense to take the Oregon defensive coordinator job under Taggart back in December of 2016. Before arriving in Eugene, the Ducks had ranked 126th nationally in scoring defense, and Leavitt’s presence on defense immediately improved them to 80th in 2017 and they improved even more this season, finishing 48th.

Leavitt’s name had been mentioned for a number of openings the past two off seasons, including openings this year at Kansas State and Colorado and will have his pick of options.

While it doesn’t seem clear right now what his plans are or where he ends up, Leavitt is widely regarded in coaching circles as a top defensive coach.

If, or when, the Ducks promote Heyward to step in as defensive coordinator, it would mark his first time as the defensive play caller. Heyward has coached the defensive backs at Louisville (2016), Washington (2012-13) and Oregon State (2008-11), and served as the defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator at USC from 2014-15.

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