Running Through Autzen: Reuben Droughns!

Jerry Thompson Men of Oregon 20 Comments

Before a Stanford game years back, a large flock of Ducks met at PK Park for the annual football letter-winner’s tailgater. One of the more prominent O-Ducks in attendance was Reuben Droughns, one of Oregon’s greatest running backs.

Droughns had four games where he rushed for over 200 yards: 202 vs. Michigan State (1998), 207 vs. Arizona (’99), 214 vs. Stanford (’98) and 217 vs. WSU (’98). His top season was 1999 where earned All-Pac-10 honors by gaining 1234 yards, which ranks him ninth at Oregon for a single season.

Reuben came to Eugene after a stellar high school career at Anaheim High School, where he ran for 4915 yards and 49 touchdowns. He also excelled at Merced Junior College, where he got the attention of the Ducks.

From NBC Sports NW Video

Reuben Droughns was so exceptional…

A third round draft pick in the 1999 draft by the Detroit Lions, Droughns also played for the Miami Dolphins (2001) the Denver Broncos (2002-4), the Cleveland Browns (2005-6) and the New York Giants (2007-8), where he earned a Super Bowl championship ring. His NFL career stats: 3602 yards rushing on 929 attempts, 929 yards receiving and 25 total touchdowns.

Reuben and his wife Emily are rearing three girls: Bernadette, MacKenzie, and Grayson. Reuben says he hopes MacKenzie, who is 13 and excels in volleyball, will one day be a Duck.

Q and A with Reuben Droughns:

JET: Why did you come to Oregon in the first place?

RD: You know it was one of those things that Oregon came out to me when I was in high school … Coach (Tom) Osborne came out to my high school and recruited me, and you know, I just fell in love with Oregon right then and there. I had my happiest time here … honestly I wish I would have been here all four years. I went to a junior college for two years then Oregon stuck by me, so I stuck by them and came up here and had a great time.

JET: What was your personal highlight playing for Oregon?

RD: My personal highlight in a game was my first game against Michigan State. I was both nervous and excited and very scared, but it was a great opportunity for me to get started … they came up to me and said I was the starting running back, that was just a great celebrating moment in my life.

JET:. What occurred after that?

RD: So, I ended up playing two years for the Ducks … got drafted in the third round by the Detroit Lions … played two years there … went to Denver and had a 1000-yard rushing year. Denver made the playoffs two out of the three years that I played there. Got traded to Cleveland for two years where I had another 1000 rushing yards. Then I got traded to the New York Giants and won a Super Bowl. The New England Patriots went 18 and 0 with one Giant loss!!

After I got done and retired from football, I went to Europe to coach a team in Serbian national team for one year. I had a great time, came back and got married and had kids and the story goes on from there.

JET: What are you involved in now?

RD: I advocate for Athletes for Care. We advocate for CBD’s … these don’t have the psychedelic effects. It’s basically for medicine, and yes, I advocate for that trying to get that in the NFL and get the opioids out. I do a little training for my daughter. I do agility training, but not much other than that. Life is good … retired in Centennial, Colorado and enjoying the weather out there.

Jerry Thompson
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo from NBC Sports NW Video

If you would like to order the Ducks Illustrated Magazine or the 7-hour, 4-DVD set “Mighty Oregon” email or call/text 541.221.3154. Great gifts for any Duck fan!

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

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As tough a running back that the Ducks have ever had. Extremely talented and was always good for the tough yard. Great memories of a really good guy


Droughns might be my favorite Duck of all-time. He ran so hard. What’s more impressive about him is his generosity off the field. This is a great story.


Defense shines in Oregon Ducks’ first fall scrimmage

Mario Cristobal says RB CJ Verdell is “invaluable.” “We feel he’s one of the best in the country.”


Good links again 30Duck. Nice stories in each of them, thanks


So far, #1 Clemson 73 Georgia Tech 7,
SEC upsets: S.Car. 30 #15 Auburn 22,
Kentucky 34 #18 Tenn. 7,
and, in the 2nd quarter, #11Texas A & M is leading, Miss. St, 14-0.
A possibly troubling score, #14 BYU 43 Houston 26. BYU is now 5-0, they play Boise State on the blue turf, Nov.6. If ever there could be a good win by BS U it would be here.


I don’t think BYU should be a concern, as their strength of schedule is not there. Only one ranked team on it and that was Army at 22, but that game was postponed. They have wins over Navy, Troy, Louisiana Tech, UTSA, and Houston so far. Texas State is next game then Western Kentucky, Boise State, North Alabama, San Diego State.


Delightful flashback & update piece; thanks Jerry!


and it showed.

David Marsh

This sucks but honestly without fans in the stadium this makes sense… We all love the duck hamming it up for the tv cameras but from it doesn’t make any sense for the person who is inside the suit to be at the games.


Does he get to keep his scholarship if he doesn’t show up ??


Another blow to the sanctity of college football, no mascots!


Make it stop, make it stop.


Oh, now thats just not right.


Nice flashback! And, as shown in the video, he knew how to wait for the opening.

Jon Joseph

This drone packed a punch!

Thanks for the Reuben flash back.

Jon Sousa

A Droughns strike is DEADLY.


The man knew how to go north without delay and speed. It has been an amazing run of talent coming through the Oregon Football Program and Rueben was one of the greats!

He came during an interesting time of transfers, with Ontario and Maurice also coming to Oregon in an indirect way. All those guys came in and gave Oregon the boost we needed.

Another great subjects is back-ups who were amazing. I always wondered how good Kenai would have been if he had another year to play, and some starting time?


“Touchdown, Reuben Droughns!” is in my permanent playlist. Only a Duck for 2 seasons he’s still one of my all time faves. Big and fast. It sounds like he’s having a great time and I look forward to seeing his daughter, MacKenzie playing volleyball for the Ducks!