This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Hollywood, Calif. • Wide receiver Darren Carrington II became a casualty of first-year University of Oregon coach Willie Taggart's campaign to change the culture of the program.
Taggart, who was hired away from South Florida this offseason, dismissed Carrington from the program earlier this month after Carrington was charged with DUI.
Carrington's dismissal from the Oregon program paved the way for him to join Utah as a graduate transfer. Carrington, an All-Pac-12 selection in 2015 and Oregon's leading receiver last season, will be eligible to play for the Utes this season.
Taggart spoke about the decision to dismiss Carrington during Thursday's second day of Pac-12 Media Days at the Hollywood & Highland Entertainment Center.
"I think it's always tough because you always want to help young people," Taggart said. "I didn't want to just throw him out or just kick him to the curb. You want to help them reach all their dreams, goals and aspirations. In the same sense, we have rules. You've got to abide by the rules. If you break the rules, there are consequences. Unfortunately, the consequences for Darren was for us both to move on. I wish him nothing but the best. He's a great football player. I hope things get right for him."
Carrington had several off-field incidents at Oregon before Taggart's hiring. He was suspended for the 2015 national championship game against Ohio State reportedly for failing an NCAA drug test. He also got cited for an open container violation in September 2015. This past fall, The Oregonian reported that he'd been accused of breaking the arm of a Oregon graduate but never was charged.
"I don't know if [Taggart] was trying to send a message," sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert said. "I just think he's a man of his word. He's the leader of this team. He's the head guy and we try to listen to him because he knows what he's talking about."
Browning conflicted about Troy Taylor
Washington star quarterback Jake Browning, the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2016, probably knows Utah's new offensive coordinator Troy Taylor better than anyone on the Utes' current roster.
Browning, a junior from Folsom, Calif., began cutting his quarterbacking teeth under the direction of Taylor even before Taylor became his high school coach at Folsom High.
"He played a huge role for me growing up," Browning said. "A lot of guys in high school football have to transfer to go to these certain offenses, but lucky for me I was two blocks from where he was tearing it up, pretty much, since I was 12. I would go to Folsom games and they were scoring 50 per game.
"I didn't really have to go anywhere special my local high school. I got to play football at the biggest stage in high school, state championship, with guys I grew up playing with. Coach Taylor played a big role in that. Him and our other head coach, Kris Richardson, they were co-head coaches and they kind of set a precedent in Folsom."
Taylor and Browning first began their coach-quarterback relationship when Browning started attending The Passing Academy, a quarterback camp founded by Taylor, on a once-a-week basis.
Browning set national high school records for touchdowns in a single season with (91 in 2014) and a career (229 in three seasons) in Taylor's offense at Folsom High.
"I think the side you guys will see [at Utah] is very professional, knows his stuff, really a firm believer in what he does," Browning said. "Off field with his players the side you don't see he's a funny guy.
"He obviously knows when to lock it in, a good personality. He's somebody I think can do some special things at Utah. I kind of feel weird because I hope he doesn't. Then again, I hope he does because it's a guy who has done so much for me and my career."
Utah defensive lineman Filipo Mokofisi, a Woods Cross High School alumnus, was the only Utah prep product appearing in Hollywood. But several Utahns will be prominent players in their Pac-12 programs this season, including Washington State quarterback Luke Falk (Logan), Stanford tight end Dalton Schultz (Bingham) and USC linebacker Porter Gustin (Salem Hills).
WSU linebacker Peyton Pelluer is Falk's roommate, and they're known to engage in sports-themed video games.
"He's super-competitive, and so am I," Pelluer said. "We often get after it and grind each other's gears to the point where we've actually fought nothing serious, but he's the only guy I'll fight in the house. It's fun living with him, for sure."
Falk also is known for his relentless football study.
"The preparation he [does] is crazy," WSU running back Jamal Morrow said. "As a leader, that's what you want. … It's like a chain reaction. People see him and everybody's like, 'You know what? Let's do this.' "
Stanford coach David Shaw said the Cardinal have had tight ends with specialty skills, but not with Schultz's all-around ability. Schultz caught 23 passes last season, and his production as a receiver should increase.
"Our desire for Dalton was to be that complete NFL tight end. And that's what he's becoming," Shaw said. "As we stabilize the offensive line and quarterback position, he's one of those guys I think is going to benefit and really have a breakout year. And it won't just be statistically. I think just the different things that he can do will show more. He's one of those guys that you're going to see him play on Sundays."
Entering his junior season at USC, Gustin has "grown more as a leader," linebacker Cameron Smith said. "He's matured a lot. … He's just taken over a leadership style that's perfect for our team right now."
Gustin led the Trojans with 13 tackles for loss and ranked second in total tackles (68) last season.