Matt Hegarty, an offensive lineman who announced in March he would transfer from Notre Dame after completing his degree, will join the Oregon Ducks in 2015.

The program welcomed Hegarty, from Aztec, New Mexico, in a tweet Tuesday afternoon.

At 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds, Hegarty was a top-100 prep recruit who played in the U.S. All-American Bowl as a senior before suffering a stroke early in his career in South Bend. Hegarty underwent surgery in December 2012 to repair two undetected holes in his heart that he’d had since birth, said his father, Bryan, in a 2013 Chicago Tribune article.

He recovered and appeared in 12 games in 2013 for the Irish before starting 11 of 13 games in 2014 at either guard or center. His experience at center is key for the Ducks, whose search for a replacement for the graduated Hroniss Grasu, Oregon’s four-year starting center and All-America who was drafted by the NFL’s Chicago Bears in May, remained unresolved after spring practices.

His versatility also fits in line with offensive line coach Steve Greatwood’s priority on athleticism, which proved invaluable as Oregon overcame multiple injuries to its line by sliding linemen around to different positions during its push to the College Football Playoff national championship game last season.

In March, Hegarty told ESPN.com in a statement that he opted to transfer when Notre Dame asked him to switch positions, saying his urgency to play comes from almost having his career cut short.  

“My goal is to contribute this season, continue to develop my skills and pursue my dream of playing in the NFL,” he told ESPN.com. “Because of this goal, I have asked for a transfer to play at another school where I can contribute more on the field. Notre Dame has amassed formidable depth on the O-line and have many very talented players to fill all positions.”

Hegarty becomes the second player with plans to arrive at Oregon after using an NCAA rule that allows players who have graduated with remaining eligibility to play immediately at another school.

Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. announced in February he will transfer from the Cheney, Washington, Football Championship Subdivision school in mid-June to Oregon, though that plan hinges on his graduation.

Oregon lost its entire left side of last season’s offensive line to graduation in the offseason, with tackle Jake Fisher and guard Hamani Stevens now in the NFL. Tyler Johnstone, a junior who missed last season while recovering from consecutive knee ligament injuries, was limited from full-contact spring practices in April but is expected to retake the left tackle position, where he started at in 2013. Guard and center, however, remain wide-open positions races.

Among the many who rotated in at center in spring practices were Jake Pisarcik, Cameron Hunt and Matt Pierson, who all played elsewhere on the line in 2014. Doug Brenner is another candidate expected to be ready for fall camp, albeit inexperienced, but he sat out spring drills in a walking boot.

— Andrew Greif
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@andrewgreif

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