CJ Verdell is an anomaly. The junior running back has rushed for 1,000 or more yards in each of his first two seasons. Despite the high yardage total, Verdell has only just surpassed the freshman single season total of Royce Freeman, who had an astounding 18 touchdowns in his first season.
Sitting at 19 career rushing touchdowns, Verdell seems to be a tier below Freeman and Ducks great LaMichael James, who rushed for an eye-popping 21 touchdowns in 2010. Is the comparison to two of the greatest running backs to ever wear green and yellow really fair? James and Freeman both played in far more prolific scoring offenses than Verdell and both of them had their best seasons in years the Ducks made the national championship game.
Verdell doesn’t possess the speed or elusiveness of James, and he lacks the sheer size and strength of Freeman, but the Ducks running back makes up for his lack of raw talent with a ferocious running style that wears down defenders due to the constant hits to the chest.
Verdell isn’t going to rush for 1,000 yards in 2020, there just aren’t enough games in the season. But with fewer “almost” scores and an offense that gets him the ball in space instead of running in to six defenders on every play, the longtime Ducks might just prove he belongs in the conversation with his predecessors.
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Ryan Robertson is a Freshman at the University of Dayton. A lifelong Duck fan from Grants Pass, he joined the Army out of high school. After four years as an Intelligence Analyst he decided it was time to further his education and pay more attention to his Ducks. One of Ryan’s first memories is of watching the Ducks, led by Joey Harrington, beating up on the Utah Utes in 2001. He is studying to be a Human Rights Investigator for the UN and intends to attend the U of O for graduate school in a few years. His grandfather ran track at Oregon in the ‘50s. He loves the Ducks, and has a passionate interest in reading every scrap of analysis centered around the football team.
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