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Aztec High alum Hegarty leaving Irish for Oregon

Former Aztec High School star Matt Hegarty will play his senior year at the University of Oregon, it appears.

The Oregon football program made the announcement on its Twitter feed, welcoming the former Notre Dame offensive lineman to the fold: “Congrats (to Hegarty)! Welcome to the Oregon Family. #MenOfOregon #GoDucks!”

HEGARTY: Had 11 starts in 2014 for Notre Dame

HEGARTY: Had 11 starts in 2014 for Notre Dame

Hegarty, 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds, will be eligible to play this fall as a graduate transfer.

Hegarty, who announced in March he was leaving Notre Dame, has yet to comment on the Oregon transfer.

The 2011 Aztec graduate, a top-100 recruit, played three seasons for Notre Dame and started 11 games for the Fighting Irish last season. But he told the Notre Dame coaching staff had asked him to change positions and noted that the Irish roster was loaded with young offensive linemen.

“(Coaches) explained that with many younger players in the wings, they wanted to develop them more heavily in the rotation – a need that I understand and appreciate.”

Hegarty sat out the 2011 season as a redshirt and played sparingly as a redshirt freshman before suffering a mini-stroke in November 2012. He underwent surgery that December to repair two holes in his heart, an apparent congenital defect.

“Unfortunately,” he wrote in March, “I have already had to miss a precious amount of football battling back from my stroke, and I value every rep and opportunity going into my final year of college ball that much more. My goal is to contribute this season, continue to develop my skills and pursue my dream of playing in the NFL.”

Oregon sets up as a near-perfect place to do so.

The Ducks, who lost to Ohio State in the national championship game in January, need to replace a four-year starting center in Hroniss Grasu – an All-American and a Chicago Bears draftee.

Oregon also lost its starting right guard and right tackle, though center appears to be Hegarty’s preferred position. Of his 11 starts for Notre Dame last year, 10 were at center.