What can you say about the running game in 2011? It was extraordinary. As a team, the Ducks led the nation in overall rushing (4089 yards) and rushing yards per attempt (6.7/a). LaMichael James ran for a school record 1805 yards, and would have won the rushing title for the second straight year if not for missing two games due to a dislocated elbow. The supporting cast was also spectacular. Kenjon Barner nearly rushed for 1000 yards himself, while DeAnthony Thomas ran for 595 yards and 7 touchdowns, all of which adds up to a downright filthy rushing game.
Heading into 2012, the Ducks are suddenly very thin at running back back. Despite recruiting the position as well as any other on the team, the Ducks have been hurt by transfers as three blue chip running backs have transferred in the last two years in Lache Seastrunk, Dontae Williams, and Tra Carson, all natives of Texas. Carson figured to be the backup to Barner this year, but that role now falls upon DeAnthony and perhaps true freshman Byron Marshall. Ayele Forde will also get a look and don't be surprised if Chip switches an athlete from another position to increase depth.
With Barner in his senior year, running back is as important a need in the 2013 class as any other. The Ducks are off to a good start with in-state standout Thomas Tyner pledging his commitment last November. Despite Tyner's commitment, look for Oregon to add one or two more running backs in this class. After the jump, a very look at some of the running backs on Oregon's list.
Dontre Wilson - Wilson is a four star running back out of Texas in the LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk mold. At 5-10 and 180 lbs, Wilson has good enough size, but what sets him apart is his blazing speed. Wilson is the exact type of player that has flourished at Oregon under Chip Kelly, leading him to say that the offense is "perfect for me". Wilson is set to choose between Oregon and Texas on May 25.
Terrell Newby - At 5-10, 185 lbs, Terrell Newby is a tough, powerful running back who keeps his legs moving forward after contact (think Jacquizz Rodgers). Newby is a three star recruit who is flying somewhat under the radar, but his patience and grit will translate well at the next level. Oregon is currently at the top of his list of schools.
Justin Davis - Like Tyner and Dontre Wilson, Justin Davis is one of the best running backs in the country. Also like Tyner, Davis is a taller back at 6-0, but possesses good speed and agility, with the ability to burst through a hole when he's in between the tackles. He's a consensus four star recruit and has been offered by many top programs, including USC, Oklahoma, Florida State, and Nebraska.
Derrick Green - Derrick Green is a four star running back out of Richmond, Virgina and was just recently offered by Oregon. Green is a bruiser who stands at 6-0 and 215 lbs and he possesses good speed for his size. He currently favors schools that are closer to home but said the Oregon offer was a "big one" and that he could definitely see himself playing for the Ducks.
Olito Thompson - Thompson is a stud running back from Concord high school in the bay area. He set a Northern California record with 3488 yards rushing as a junior, and was named the East Bay Player of the year. Oregon will reportedly visit him for a second time in May.