CJ Verdell, Cyrus Habibi-Likio and Travis Dye have cemented themselves in the Oregon Ducks backfield this season, but a few new runners will keep them on their toes.
A trio of freshman running backs including Sean Dollars, Trey Benson and Jayvaun Wilson could be poised for a breakout, as the competition at running back gains traction.
Dollars, a four-star recruit and the nation’s No. 2 all-purpose back in 2019, has quickly caught the attention of junior Cyrus Habibi-Likio. He says he could tell Dollars put in work this offseason.
"He's different this year,” Habibi-Likio said. “He has a lot more hustle to him. He’s not as fatigued, and he worked a lot on his running as well. I think just mentality-wise too, I think he got that year under his belt. He’s come in aggressive and he’s hitting people. He’s picking up blocks which is huge in our offense."
While Dollars shows tremendous upside, how much time he’ll actually see the field in 2020 remains to be seen. Last season, Dollars appeared in four games for the Ducks, producing seven carries for 81 yards.
Newcomer Trey Benson has also garnered some attention from his new teammates. The 6’1, 209-pounder brings a lot to the table with his physicality and raw athleticism.
"He's a super athletic kid,” Habibi-Likio said. “It’s amazing how athletic he is at such a young age. Even the way he’s built. He looks like he's been in our program for a few years. He’s around the same weight as me and the same height. He’s fluid."
Jayvaun Wilson, a 2019 recruit and former four-star running back, spent his first season redshirting, but could also have an increased role this season.
"He's a lot more comfortable in this offense,” Habibi-Likio said of Wilson. “Last year he was running a bit high in practice. Now he’s lowering his pads and bending."
Oregon’s backfield will be very crowded this fall, but several young faces could be called upon for their opportunity to shine as the 2020 Pac-12 season gets underway.
The entire narrative surrounding the Ducks running back room is one to keep your eyes on as the November 7 season-opener vs. Stanford quickly looms.