2017 MHS Athletic Hall of Honor Inductees
Manatee High School Class of 1994
Willie Taggert - Student Athlete
Willie Taggart believed at a young age that he had opportunities to excel and dreamed of playing football in the NFL. For Willie, sports provided a diversion from the negative things happening around him keeping him on the right track. He was small but lethal on the football field and what he lacked in size, he made up for in skill. Willie played football, basketball and ran track & field at Manatee and had to work hard to prove himself because of his size.In his sophomore year, he was moved to varsity as the 150 lb. backup quarterback to Tommie Frazier but Tommie’s fame at Manatee didn’t stop Willie. He worked hard,got his first break when Frazier was injured and Willie had an opportunity as a starting quarterback. He didn’t disappoint–he ran the Hurricane’ option offense to near perfection while leading Manatee to an easy victory that led to him receiving conference player of the week honors.He was first team All-State and All-Conference as a senior at MHS after guiding the 'Canes to the state 5A Championship game in his junior year. He helped post a 26-4 record during his last 2 years at MHS while recording more than 3,000 yards passing and 975 yards on the ground. Willie’s performance was outstanding but the college recruiters were not knocking on his door and he was unsure what the future held. His break came when Jim Harbaugh came to visit and he was recruited by Western Kentucky for a team that was in trouble. A lasting friendship had started and Willie became “one of the Harbaugh family”.Willie was one of only 3 WKU players in the previous 50 years to be a 4 year starter at quarterback. In his junior & senior year, he was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award and an All American in his senior year. In 2010, Willie became the head football coach at WKU turning that program around to becoming winners until 2012 when he moved closer to home as the head coach at USF and in 2016 became the head coach at University of Oregon where he remains today. Willie has credited his parents, who worked long hours tending vegetable and orange fields, for instilling in him his respected work ethic.