In the 2018 recruiting cycle the Oregon Ducks signed two running backs, one in particular with a very high ceiling. That would be Travis Dye from California’s Norco High, a school with an enrollment of about 2,200 students located in North Riverside county in Southern California.
Travis was a three year starter for the Cougars. He was a primarily a wide receiver/running back as a sophomore, and then became a full-time running back his last two years. According to Maxpreps.com he accounted for nearly 6,000 all-purpose yards and 67 touchdowns while playing on a team that had a very tough schedule.
Travis Dye is a member of a family with a rich football tradition. According to Ryan Wright of the RecruitingNewsGuru.com, Travis has four older brothers that have played (or are playing) college football and his oldest brother Tony played in the NFL with Cincinnati Bengals (2012-2013).
Travis was a lightly recruited 3-star prospect. A little surprising, given that he was a two-time Cal-Hi Sports Second Team selection both as a Junior and as a Senior. He was also All-CIF Division 2 First Team as a Senior.
The check marks indicate that these are verified heights, weights, and measured times and distances from a sanctioned event, such as a Regional Combine (for example, The Opening presented by Nike).
I haven’t seen any information on him as to arm length or hand size, but for an athlete of his size his arm length should be approximately 32″ and his hand size somewhere between 9-1/8″ and 9-1/2″. Anything over 9-1/2″ is considered “big hands”, and the ability to grip a football is very important for any skill position athlete.
I have not seen any reports of his speed. However two similar sized athletes, Garland Lafrance (New Orleans, Louisiana) and Craig Williams (Crosby, Texas) recorded shuttle times and 40 yard dash times at a sanctioned event. For comparison purposes Lafrance recorded a 3.82 shuttle (which was the best recorded in this recruiting class) and Williams did it in 4.48 seconds. Travis Dye recorded a 4.32. Subsequently, Williams clocked a 4.36 40 yard-dash (which was the best recorded in this recruiting class), while Lafrance ran the 40 in just under 4.6 (4.57). There is only a little correlation between “quickness” and straight-line speed, but for comparison purposes, based upon this data I would think it reasonable that Dye could run the 40 yard dash in the 4.55 to 4.60 range.
Dye has a nice frame at 5-foot-10 to 5-foot-11 and he’s still growing into his body. He’s not a “burner,” but his tape shows solid speed for the position. What separates him is his vision and ability to sink and change direction at the second level to take advantage of “doors” that open and close without having to gear down. His creativity, vision, and cut back ability are at an elite level.
The Jump Cut…
The ability to “jump cut” before an opponent can hip sink and change direction (to “mirror” the running back’s center of gravity), is an important part of a runner’s skill set. In the video above Dye cuts before the linebacker can gather himself and square up. His jump cut is at an elite level.
He Can Sink and Change Direction…
In the video above, Dye demonstrates how flexible (“bendy”) he is. He can sink his hips and change direction without gearing down.
Great Vision and Quick Choppy Feet…
The ability to see the backside lanes open and close (like doors) is a gift. You’re either born with it or you’re not.
He can Bounce Gap-to-Gap…
His ability to bounce gap-to-gap is at an elite level as well. He doesn’t gear down or “dance” at the line of scrimmage. Throughout his tape, Dye demonstrates quick, choppy feet and decisiveness when he attacks the line of scrimmage.
In the video above, the quarterback keeps the ball and Dye is out of the play. He then turns on the jets to catch up. Watch him blow by everybody to block for his quarterback down field. He’s plenty fast enough.
He’s a “Pinball” Guy…
Dye is a gap bouncer with great vision. A cut-back guy who can stop and start without “gearing down” or gathering himself. In other words, a “pinball” guy.
Dye is comfortable in the passing game as well. He “plucks” the ball and doesn’t allow it to get into frame, catching it away from his body. He doesn’t fight the ball. In the video above he effortlessly one-hand catches the football on a “wheel” route.
The Complete Package…
In the video above Dye puts it all together: the jump cut, bouncing from the primary gap to another, sinking his hips and changing direction, and finally lowering his pads to initiate contact and finish the run. Travis Dye is an elite running back.
Who He Reminds Me Of…
I took a look at fourteen similar running backs in the NFL and settled on five that Travis Dye most closely resembles in terms of triangle numbers (Height, Weight, and Speed) and skillset.
He reminds me the most of Christian McCaffrey, who was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the First Round (No. 8 overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft. Other running backs that share very similar traits are Paul Perkins of the New York Giants, LeSean McCoy of the Buffalo Bills, Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints, and Duke Johnson, Jr. of the Cleveland Browns.
There are two types running backs that are successful at the collegiate level and the NFL: those that can break tackles and those that can make tacklers miss. Travis Dye can make people miss.
He is a tough running back with vision, quick choppy feet, and a compact style that allows him to protect himself. He has loose hips that let him to bounce gap-to-gap at an elite level. He hits the hole decisively and can jump cut at the second level in front of linebackers or safeties, making them look silly. He is flexible (bendy) and can sink to change direction without gearing down.
He plays with a consistent speed whether he’s hitting the “A” gap between the tackles or taking it to the corner without gathering or gearing up. He is “sudden,” in that he comes to top-end speed in roughly a step and a half.
Travis Dye possesses all of the tools necessary to become an elite collegiate running back. He has a very high ceiling and should see the field early at Oregon, first as a kickoff returner before transitioning into a dynamic running back later in his career.
Michael Kelly “ChicoDuck”
Top Photo Credit: Ryan Wright – RecruitingNewsGuru.com