Oregon’s Jayvaun Wilson: Can He Swim Amidst the RB Depth?

Zeke Lerner-Wood Recruiting 16 Comments

The Ducks have had some fantastic running backs in the past. Players like LaMichael James, Derek Loville, and Jonathan Stewart have all cemented themselves as stars in Oregon’s football history. However, the Ducks have also historically had some difficulty dealing with depth for the running back spot, and that hasn’t changed.

Currently on the roster, we have CJ Verdell, Travis Dye, Cyrus Habibi-Likio, Sean Dollars, and freshman Trey Benson as options at RB, who all bring a lot to the table. However, the competition surrounding the position is apparent. 

Jayvaun Wilson was recruited as a running back in April of 2018. Wilson stands at 6’2″ and weighs 220 pounds, a little bit bigger than his position competitors. Wilson was a consensus 3-star recruit out of high school, and was ranked as the No. 34 overall RB in the nation upon recruitment. He chose Oregon over other competitive programs such as Oregon State, Cal, and Washington. Wilson was also sought after by Arizona, where his older brother and LB Jay Jay Wilson played before transferring to Auburn in 2019.

Kevin Cline

Wilson mentally prepares himself.

Wilson is a very well rounded player. In his high school tapes, he demonstrates surprising speed for someone his size, easily splitting defenders and jetting across the field. When Wilson puts his head down and starts moving, the best place to be is out of his way. His size contributes significantly to his strength, and he has no problem bulldozing through would-be tacklers like chipping drywall. Wilson’s very strong on his feet, able to shrug off grappling defenders and shirk off flailing arms without losing much speed. 

Despite this, Wilson is definitely not agile. He was clearly recruited as a power back as compared to Dollars, who is much more of an agile speed back. Wilson struggles when changing directions quickly, which can be problematic if he doesn’t have the clearest running route. 

Kevin Cline

Wilson lines up with his family before the Oregon State game.

The combination of Wilson’s mass and velocity make him a versatile weapon. This could create the opportunity for Wilson to try out a variety of positions due to the competition at running back. On the defensive side of the field, Wilson has the frame of a linebacker, but also demonstrates the necessary speed and field knowledge to be an effective safety. That paired with a tenacity for chasing down opponents leaves you with a very solid defender. In an interview with Greg Biggins from 247sports, Wilson stated that he prefers running back to defensive positions:

“I like running back, I think that’s my best position. Oregon likes me as an athlete but more so as a running back and I think I fit in really well here. They want to bring in two backs in this class, a power back and a smaller, speed back and I would be the power back for them.”

But perhaps with a year on the sideline, Wilson will be ready to consider a transition into the defensive room. Since Wilson is prepared to compete physically at the collegiate level, that leaves a lot of room for growth tactically in the future as well. For a lot of recruits, it’s usually vice versa; taking advantage of college meal plans to try to catch up in terms of athleticism, but in this case it’s just one box that Wilson can check as he prepares to make an impact on the field. 

Wilson is a great player to have on the Ducks’ roster. He is physically prepared to compete offensively and defensively, and with a year on the sideline, he is ready to leave his mark. Having such a versatile utility player gives the Ducks a lot more flexibility in terms of roster selections, but it also gives Wilson a much higher chance of lining up this fall (hopefully). Where do you think Wilson will end up playing? Either way, between hurtling through defenders or plowing through receivers, Wilson is a valuable asset to our Ducks.

Zeke Lerner-Wood
Eugene, OR
Top photo by Kevin Cline

Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester, Tennessee.


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I am tempted to say that he doesn’t have a chance to get on the field, but you never know. I have been wrong too many times to count. I will say this though: he would have a much easier path to playing time by being on a team like Arizona or the Beavers. He made his choice and now he has to live with it. Eaford bailed because he saw what was in front of him. Maybe he sticks around or maybe he goes to where he can play. Maybe he balls out and makes the coaches play him.

I predict that the RB position is crowded and linebacker is just as crowded, if not more so. He maybe could be a big hitting safety like Brady Breeze. I think he is a pac12 calibur player, but can’t bust through the clutter into the two deep, at any position, other than special teams.

I think this year, he and the team feel each other out. I think he sees a little token playing time here and there, but transfers to a less talented pac12 team, sits a year, and makes his move to play his jr and sr years. I say at the end of the season, he transfers to either Az, Oregon St, or Colorado. And then once he finally gets on the field, he has a nice college career and makes a few good plays.


Kind of a little pessimistic, don’t you think?

Players no one saw coming due to lower recruit ranking and depth in front of them…Masoli, Mariota, Herbert, Barner…just to name a few, but the list goes on.


Its just a guess. I’m not saying that he doesn’t have a chance. Its a crowded room. Remember when Jermaine Oneill couldn’t get playing time when he was with the Portland Trailblazers??? I think his situation is a lot like that. I said he could play pac12 football. The question is – WHERE can he get his chance to get on the field?


Great article, could see him taking a CHL role in the future if he doesn’t switch to linebacker.

Side note that’s Travis Dye with his family before the Oregon State game not Wilson


I seem to recall that Wilson was on a SoCal 7X7 team with another player the coaches were after; (perhaps even Dollars?) and that’s where he caught the coaches eyes. The kids play both ways in that league so they get to see how well they move in space as much or more than their physicality.

When play resumes he would seem a likely candidate for special teams at a minimum, but – as Zeke points out – he may be caught between Benson and Cyrus H-L for the big back role going forward. No apparent candidates in the 2021 class anyhow so playing time in a couple years may look better.

BTW, great pic of Jayvaun with his folks: the wistful waiting of a redshirt.


How difficult it is – is determined by what he wants to get out of college.. If he wants to be part of the team, but his main focus is on the scholarship, then he will be fine. If his heart is set on balling out on Saturdays, then it will be tough, real tough unless he finds a way to break through into some kind of rotation.

I quit playing football after high school and went back to playing soccer. I played forward on my city league team and I was as happy as could be. I only cared about playing time, not where I was playing. But every athlete is different. These guys all know playing time is competitive and they only have 5 years to get it done.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

This is why I love these “Redshirt-Reviews,” as I forgot about this player and it will make it that much more interesting to watch for him. Thanks for the info. Zeke!


Thanks Zeke for giving us this insight on Jayvaun. Like 30Duck said I was not familiar with him as well. I am wondering with his bruising size, the team would benefit playing him in 3rd down and red zone situations getting the first down or punching it in for a TD?


It seems like the practice squad is where we rumors about the next great RB, QB or player. Was there any rumors about how good Jayvaun was? It would be interesting to hear any rumors about last years practice squad, anyone, anyone?

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Jon Joseph

Thanks Zeke. Another interesting take of guy currently off-the-starting-radar but still an important member of the team who could move on up.


Thanks very much for this article, Zeke. I have to say that I was not familiar with Jayvaun amidst the stable of Oregon running backs. That’s certainly not a reason for him switching to a defensive position, but from what you detailed in the article, it could be that such a move would be a benefit to Jayvaun and the team.


Going back in Ducks history Bobby Moore (Ahmad Rashad) and Mel Renfro put up some numbers and excited fans in Eugene and the NFL.

I’m feeling that our RB room has strengthened and gotten deeper. Coupled with new offensive schemes and play-calling for 2020 and beyond look for the Ducks to run wild with many contributors to a breakout running game..

The Ducks offense will fly high this season.