Oregon’s rushing attack is legendary and the history of offensive weapons is impressive. The past four seasons, No. 23 Oregon could count on Royce Freeman, who carried the bulk of the rushing load and holds Oregon’s career rushing yards record (5,621) and career touchdowns record (60).
Those are some big cleats to fill. Oregon (1-0) has pegged senior Tony Brooks-James as their every down back, and he has goals to dominate in his final season as a Duck.
Behind Brooks-James are five scholarship running backs that each have a special skill set. If you are looking for special, look no further than the first running back off the bench last Saturday, freshman Travis Dye and his ferocious jump cuts.
Dye replaced Brooks-James for the third series in Oregon’s 58-24 victory over Bowling Green, he rushed for 37 yards on seven attempts and demonstrated why his teammates and coaches talk wildly about him.
“I think he’s darn good. Shoot, he’s a lot better than his brother (Troy),” Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt teased. “I just had to say that for Troy because Troy will get fired up on that one. Travis is really so talented. He has so much balance, runs with his shoulders out front and has good vision.”
Football is a family affair for Travis, as Dye has four older brothers that have played (or are playing) college football, including star UO junior linebacker, Troy.
Troy said he was proud of Travis’ performance in his college football debut. Travis sat a few feet to his right on the podium and ended it with some brotherly love: "But at the end of the day, he's still a bum."
Travis enrolled early at Oregon for spring football after rushing for 2,383 yards and 34 touchdowns as a high school senior at Norco High school in California. Dye was banged up with a minor injury in UO's fall camp but rebounded and is fully healthy.
Brooks-James smiled wide when talking about Dye’s strengths. He complimented his shiftiness and ability to run hard without hesitation.
“With those things combined, when he hits a hole, he’s gone,” Brooks-James said.
Dye can juke anyone with his jump cuts but it was the freshman’s maturity that impressed quarterback Justin Herbert.
“He knows what he’s doing,” Herbert said. “He made some mistakes but he gathered himself and came back and ran really hard.”
The lights weren’t too bright for Travis in his college football debut. He was one of six running backs that totaled 212 rushing yards with an average of five yards per rush. Once pac-12 conference play starts, Oregon will likely shrink its rotation. Dye has put himself in the position to contribute to Oregon's power-tempo offense this season and for many to come.
“He’s going to be really, really good for a long time here,” offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo said. “We are really excited about him.”