I know Oregon just came off of their Alamo Bowl win less than 1 month ago. But, a lot of turmoil and optimism has risen coming into next season. Quarterback Marcus Mariota will be coming back for his Junior season which will provide a great bonus on offense. Oregon loses 3 enormous weapons on the offensive side of the ball, next year. Electrifying RB/WR De'Anthony Thomas who forgone his Senior season to head into the NFL Draft this spring.
Other major play makers being lost next year are, WR Josh Huff. Huff, who led the team last year in receptions and receiving yards, was Mariota's favorite target in the passing game. Another major WR who was somewhat underrated as a complimentary receiver behind Addison, Thomas, and Huff was Darryl Hawkins. Hawkins provided good stability in the weens of the offense. And was a solid receiver who made plenty yards after the catch. Most of us now this already. Oregon is getting big time recruits at receiving next year, one of the biggest it's had the past 5 years. Though, one topic that I feel needs to be discussed is who should be Oregon's most reliable running back next season?
Oregon has a veteran ground attack with Byron Marshall entering his Junior season next season. Who spent split time with DAT at both wide receiver and as a running back. Thomas was much thought as being underused last year in the grand scheme of the offense, under first year OC Scott Frost. He did make some jaw-dropping runs like he mostly did in his career. But so did Marshall, who really seemed to put his game together last season. Carrying the ball 168 times while racking up 1,308 yards in the backfield accounting for 9 offensive touchdowns. Who should be the seen as the most dependable guy to carry the load next season. But, Sophomore Thomas Tyner broke out late in the season. Carrying for 100+ yards in Civil War vs Oregon State. His numbers might not seem as gaudy or flashy in some people's perspective on the ground. But, the ceiling is high for him.
Lastly, Oregon will be getting a 5 Star freshman running back next season named Tony James. No he isn't related to LaMichael James. But he presents himself as a similar back in the past few seasons. At 5'10" he mirrors the stature of LaMichael and Kenjon Barner. He is a physical load on the ground with a low center of gravity like Barner and James had. He probably won't assert himself as a strong back in the fold of the others. But, could be a reliable factor for us in a few games next year. No we don't have the breakaway, game-changing speed that DAT brought us. Yet, we will have a stock-full of depth in the backfield that will be a major threat coming this fall.