Oregon Ducks Co-DC Keith Heyward is leaving, a strong candidate to join Cal Golden Bears

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Dylan Mickanen
·2 min read
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Ducks Co-DC Keith Heyward is leaving, a strong candidate to join Cal Bears originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

Oregon is losing another member of its defensive coaching staff. 

After Oregon replaced new Boise State Broncos head coach Andy Avalos with Cal defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyterThe Athletic's Bruce Feldman reports the Ducks co-DC Keith Heyward may be leaving Eugene to accept a position with Cal.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent]

Twice since Heyward has joined Oregon's coaching staff, he has been passed over to be promoted to defensive coordinator with Cristobal hiring an outside coach instead. First it was Avalos prior to the 2019 season and last week it was DeRuyter. He has added assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator to his titles, though. 

When Jim Leavvitt and Oregon mutually parted ways, the expectation inside the program, especially among the players was that Heyward would get the gig. Instead, Cristobal hired Avalos which turned out to be a home-run hire albeit short-lived when his alma mater's head coaching job opened up. 

Speculatively speaking, it's easy to imagine Heyward sees he will not get any higher in the Oregon staff than he has and needs to look elsewhere for higher up promotions, such as Cal where his former colleague Justin Wilcox is the head coach. The two worked together when Wilcox was the DC at Washington and then at USC. 

“That’s my goal; I definitely want to be a defensive coordinator,” Heyward said in 2019 after Avalos' hire. “Obviously it didn’t happen this time around, but I’m confident that I’ll get my time and I’m excited for our program. I’ve known Andy for a long time, we’ve crossed over in recruiting and was happy for him to come in (interview) and happy for him once he got it. I was a little disappointed, to be honest, in myself, but this is a team and coach Cristobal did what was best.”

Heyward developed 2021 NFL Draft prospects such as Jevon Holland and Brady Breeze with the former expected to be selected in the second round of the upcoming draft in April. 

He penned a thank you letter to Oregon shortly after the report was released.