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Running Back: 2018 Spring Recap + Fall Preview

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NCAA Football: Utah at Oregon Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

How will Oregon replace a Ducks legend at the running back position? The depth at this position is very frightening or it could be enlightening at the end of the 2018 season.

Pre Spring Depth Chart

1. Tony Brooks-James 5’9 185 Redshirt Senior

2. Darren Felix 5’10 192 Sophomore

3. Taj Griffin 5’11 175 Senior

4. CJ Verdell 5’9 202 Redshirt Freshman

5. Cyrus Habibi-Likio 6’1 202 Redshirt Freshman

Analysis

- TBJ is finally the main man for the 2018 season after sharing backup duties to current Denver Bronco Royce Freeman with now graduated Kani Benoit. The question is, can he handle the workload that is required of a front line starter? He should be relatively fresh after receiving comparatively few touches. Oregon’s third leading rusher from the 2017 season.

- The bill for having a superstar workhorse back has come due as the depth behind TBJ is very inexperienced and unproven. The next two running backs that got carries in 2017 had just as much touches COMBINED as TBJ did.

- Oregon listed Darren Felix as the primary backup going into the spring game. He’s there at the 2 spot due to experience and health.

- RS Senior Taj Griffin didn’t play much as a RS junior due to various injuries. He’s a versatile back that can catch out of the backfield relatively well.

- CJ Verdell reportedly stood out the most during the spring and had two touchdowns in the spring game. He may have usurped Taj Griffin’s spot on the depth chart as a result.

Post Spring Depth Chart

1. Tony Brooks-James

2. Darren Felix

3. CJ Verdell

4. Taj Griffin

5. Cyrus Habibi-Likio

Redshirt candidates

1. Travis Dye

2. Jamal Elliot

Analysis

- TBJ is the unquestioned starter at this point. He deserves it after waiting for the chance as long as he did. My question for him is that can he hold up to the physical punishment due to his listed measurements?

- Darren Felix is solidly in the backup role but I have this feeling that he will eat into TBJ’s workload a bit more than expected. Yes, I know that Cristobal came from Bama where they seemingly have freakishly big backs all the time. He has to realize that Oregon isn’t at a place to recruit those type of backs yet.

- I have CJ Verdell leapfrogging Taj Griffin despite the seniority due to Griffin’s inability to stay healthy and based on spring practice reports. It’s unfortunate for Griffin but the injury history isn’t ideal.

- Travis Dye is a near 100% locks to get redshirted unless he just blows up during fall camp due to the depth ahead of him.

- Oregon is in a good place despite losing one of the best running backs in school and conference history. The depth is unproven but TBJ isn’t some true freshman trying to make it. He has some experience. The question is, can the backups prove their worth?