The position "running back" is almost synonymous with Oregon Football. It goes without saying that Oregon's rushing attack has been among the best in the country for quite some time now. Whether you're talking LaMichael James, Oregon's all-time rushing leader, or the speedy offensive-weapon in De'Anthony Thomas, the Ducks have consistently found ways to turn running back recruits into stars on the field.
As it stands right now, the roster is pretty stacked from a tailback perspective. The group is lead by junior back Byron Marshal, who as a junior in 2013 had a career year in which he rushed for 1,038 yards. Considering the fact that he wasn't exactly the "primary" back, it makes his stat total even more impressive.
Behind Marshall is sophomore and former five-star recruit Thomas Tyner, who showed flashes of brilliance in his freshman campaign, ranking third on the team with 711 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. An already impressive top-two backs is followed by highly touted freshman (and likely future star, because well, look at Oregon's track record) Royce Freeman. Through just two career NCAA games, Royce has compiled four rushing touchdowns on just 164 rushing yards.
While there are other backs on the roster (such as senior Ayele Forde) the three I highlighted are easily the most notable. One may think that there isn't really a need for running backs given the already impressive stash, but the way Oregon runs the ball, multiple backs are necessary. Just looking at last year, Thomas, Tyner AND Marshall all saw significant snaps in the offense, and it seems like it's going the same way this season.
There's a good chance that Byron Marshall goes the way of LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, and De'Anthony Thomas after this season and enters the NFL Draft. That leaves Tyner and Freeman as the team's elite running backs. Given the Ducks' recent success of landing elite recruits, you have to be optimistic in the Ducks chances to reel in another successful class from the running back position.
"Oregon will be my final visit on Nov. 22 when they play Colorado. I took an unofficial a few months ago and they have a lot to offer academically. I really like coach (Matt) Lubick down there and they see me in the TAZR role for them."
What makes Scarlett an even more attractive prospect is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, as well as splitting out and playing receiver. His blocking is impressive as well, given his 6'1, 210 pound frame. He's received interest from Stanford, Washington, and Notre Dame as well.
Taj Griffin: If you're looking for that one offensive "star" in Oregon's 2015 recruiting class, Taj Griffin is your man. The five-star all-purpose back out of Georgia committed to Oregon on April 24th, 2014. Unfortunately for Griffin, his senior season ended early with a torn ACL in his season opener.
Nonetheless, assuming he makes a full recovery, he's still one of the most explosive backs in the country. He's got all the things you want in an elite running back; difficult to tackle in open field, strong for his size, with a low center of gravity. For a more detailed look on the high-end recruit, click here.
Kirk Merritt: Like Griffin, Merritt is another all-purpose back. The 5'11' recruit hails from the great state of Louisiana, and has found himself at the top of many recruiting boards. Auburn, Alabama, LSU, and your very own Oregon ducks have all offered the four-star recruit. He's set to visit Eugene on October 31st.
He possesses outstanding speed, but has the ability to run over a defender if he has to. Like many all-purpose backs, he's got great hands if you're looking to throw to him. For a deeper look at Merritt, click here.
Soso Jamabo: You'd be hard pressed to find a player in the entire country with a better name than Soso Jamabo, but that's not what makes him such a highly sought after four-star recruit. The 6'3' back is a talented zone rusher, who follows his blockers to find open holes. His height would give him an advantage if he ever wanted to transition to wide receiver, but his skills at running back are hard to overlook. For more on Jamabo, click here.
Oregon has some serious competition in landing Soso, with top programs like UCLA, Baylor, and Notre Dame all fighting to land the back.