Quick, fast, elusive, hungry, leader: these are qualities that make our running backs some of the top in the nation. From LaMichael James to Kenjon Barner, no one questioned the legitimacy of the Ducks’ backfield…until now. With Chip Kelly flocking to Philadelphia to be a bird of a different feather and Kenjon Barner off to the Carolina Panthers, fans question where the team is headed. Who will be Marcus Mariota’s sidekick to begin the era of Coach Helfrich?
We can’t forget The Black Mamba obviously, but Coach Kelly wasn’t too fond of making him the main focus at running back, so it’s doubtful Coach Helfrich will place him there either. So what does that leave for the Mighty Ducks? Their current running back roster consists of recent scholarship recipient Ayele Forde, walk-on Kenny Bassett, Lane Rosebury (who was a redshirt freshman this past season), and finally the potential favorite, Byron Marshall. The Ducks also recruited four-star Thomas Tyner this past year, but despite his acolades it is imprudent to count on a true freshman, especially considering the complexity of Oregon’s offense.
Last season as a true freshman, Marshall put up some impressive numbers in limited but effective play. He had 447 rushing yards on 87 attempts leading to an average of 5.1 yards per carry. He also had four touchdowns on the season. No other backup running back came anywhere close to producing similar numbers. With some experience under his belt learning the ins and outs of the intricate Duck offense and with his love for the game, Marshall will most likely have the starting spot this fall.
Being a Duck running back might be the most physically and mentally fatiguing position in college football, but Marshall looks to be up for the task.