Oregon Ducks Football: “Fast Tony” Sees Opportunity in Backfield

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Jordan Ingram reporting for FishDuck.com from Autzen Stadium at Oregon Football Media Day.

The news of Oregon Ducks running back Thomas Tyner‘s recent shoulder surgery has definitely changed the playing field in Eugene. Tyner will almost definitely miss the entire 2015 season, which is tragic for Oregon’s very own five-star recruit from Aloha High School.

Running back Tony Brooks-James shined during the Oregon Ducks 2015 Spring Game.

Gary Breedlove

Running back Tony Brooks-James shined during the Oregon Ducks 2015 Spring Game.

But just like an army supporting their fallen brother, a talented group of young running backs including Taj Griffin, Kani Benoit, and Tony Brooks-James continues marching forward into fall camp.

When FishDuck.com caught up with Brooks-James at the 2015 Oregon Football Media Day, the Ducks’ redshirt freshman seemed confident in himself and his teammates despite the loss of a veteran.

“The team is hurting because we lost a teammate, a beloved player and a friend,” Brooks-James said.  ”Nonetheless, we still gotta move on and play football.”

While Duck fans may mourn the lost notion of an intriguing one-two power punch of sophomore Royce Freeman and Tyner, Brooks-James continues his preparations for that newly open slot.

“Losing a teammate is never good, it’s always a downer,” Brooks-James said. “But it’s definitely an opportunity for me to showcase what I got and what I can do.”

Brooks-James wants to make a name for himself as a smaller back with explosive speed.

Kevin Cline

Brooks-James wants to make a name for himself as a smaller back with explosive speed.

Indeed, tragedy often means opportunity. That’s especially true at Oregon, where the “next man up” slogan remains a proven and successful tradition.

At 5’9″, 185 lbs., Brooks-James is a smaller back than Tyner or Freeman, but his speed and versatility at receiver are reminiscent of former Oregon standout De’Anthony Thomas and current running back turned receiver Byron Marshall.

The ability to create options for a “spread ’em and shred ’em” offense could push someone like Brooks-James to the front of the line. After all, success at Oregon comes in all sizes but at one pace: peddle to the metal.

If you haven’t already noticed, the line is getting longer for a starting gig with the national college football powerhouse and that fact isn’t lost on the southern sprinter from Gainesville, Fla. Brooks-James is proud to be surrounded by a group of fast, dedicated, and motivated players vying for a place in the west coast sun. ”We are all capable of making big plays out of the backfield,” Brooks-James said. “But you just have to give it your best in your opportunity to make them.”

How much horsepower does Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich actually have hidden under the hood at Hatfield-Dowlin? Probably more than any previous Ducks team. The time is now for a new favorite candidate to emerge to line up behind Freeman’s potential Heisman Trophy campaign. But keep your eyes peeled for a bolt of lightning appearing from the shadows of “Rolls Royce.” It could be “Fast Tony.”

Top photo by Kevin Cline

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Jordan Ingram

Jordan Ingram

My name is Jordan Ingram and I am currently a student at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism. I am a proud Oregonian with an insatiable thirst for Oregon athletics. I am in hot pursuit of my dream career as beat writer for anything that goes “Quack.” Follow me on Twitter : @jpingram3

  • GoDucks

    Fast Tony? An exciting idea, but Taj May Haul da Rock some too.

    • duckusucker

      Taj has more impressive HS tape; stats; and is faster. James is very good, but Taj may be even better…

      • Anthony Joseph Gomes

        based on HS tape i agree with you but now is now. brooks james looked way better in the spring game than he did out of HS

      • Ya, I’m excited for both Griffin brothers, especially Taj.

  • Jeff Cawley

    good write up, but as a J school alum myself, I’d say be careful tossing around the word tragedy In stories like this. Death is a tragedy. A season ending shoulder injury is a bummer and perhaps devastating to Tyner and his football plans, but tragedy it is not

    • Semantic differences, but thanks for reading. In my eyes, a last minute, season ending shoulder surgery is tragic for Tyner’s college career and beyond. He’s still a kid with huge dreans and potential. Dropping your ice cream on the ground is a Bummer.

  • krsmqn

    “Running back Tony Brooks-James shined during the Oregon Ducks 2015 Spring Game.”

    Oh, the 4 carries for -1 yard? Not what I would describe as “shined”.

    Yeah… I’m not as sold on this guy as you seem to be. And I’m not alone in this. “Fast Tony” has talent, but it needs to show on game day, not just at practice, or he’ll likely only see the field during mop up time. Let’s hope this kid makes good use of those extra reps.

    Go DUCKS!

    • Thanks for reading. Sure he wasn’t Walter Payton, but his speed and comfort on the field was impressive, even shiny :)

  • Joe Ferguson

    Jordan, The phrase is Pedal to the medal, implying accelerator pedal pushed to the floor, not peddle to the metal. Watch out for that auto spell check, it can be a thorn in the side of aspiring sports writers. Otherwise, nice job!

    • Donald Allen

      Good catch, Joe–almost. Actually, it’s “pedal to the metal” (as in metal floorboard, as you correctly point out). Perhaps you were bit by the spell check gremlin yourself.

      • See response above. Thanks for reading. Thanks for keeping us honest. It only makes us better.

    • Not my word choice. Please refer this particular grammar grumbling to the editors. But more importantly, thanks for reading.

  • Dustin C.

    We are gonna pound the rock and hit the play action game I can’t wait. We just need a pulse at qb. Playmaker everywhere but Michigan St coming fast!