Replacing Jermar Jefferson is no easy task, but Jonathan Smith likes his options in 2021


The Oregon State Beavers will have big shoes to fill at the running back position in 2021.

For the last three seasons, the Beavs backfield was blessed with Jermar Jefferson, who finished his career in Corvallis, Oregon as one of the best running backs in program history:

  • Played in 27 games, making 21 starts
  • Ranks fifth all-time at Oregon State with 2,923 rushing yards. Is fifth with 15 100-yard rushing efforts. Also fifth with 27 rushing touchdowns
  • 2018 Freshman All-American by The Athletic, ESPN, USA Today, the FWAA and 247Sports
  • 2020 Co-Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year by Associated Press
  • 2020 AP and Coaches All-Pac-12 First Team
  • 2018 All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention
  • 2020 Doak Walker Award semifinalist. 

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Jefferson announced on December 24 that he would forgo his senior season and officially declare for the 2021 NFL Draft.

So now the name of the game is replacing that high-level of production and output. It’s not easy, but Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith likes his options in 2021. 

“I think we got a variety of talent in the room and I do think we got some depth in the room to create some competition,” said Smith during his press conference following National Signing Day. “BJ Baylor coming back, Deshaun [Fenwick], Damir [Collins]… Each of those guys have skillsets unique to themselves and that’s why Coach Lindgren and the offensive staff got to put those guys in some good positions. 

But it’s good to have choices on who you want to put out there.

Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith

There have been some moving parts this offseason. Calvin Tyler Jr. entered the NCAA transfer portal and has moved on to Utah State. The Beavs signed South Carolina running back transfer Deshaun Fenwick, who saw action in eight games totaling 297 yards on 54 carries and one touchdown last season.


B.J. Baylor returns to the backfield after playing in all seven games in 2020 and recording 124 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries.  

Then you add in incoming four-star and the nation’s No. 2 ranked all-purpose back Damir Collins into the mix, who ran for 2,453 yards and 30 touchdowns as a junior last season at Jefferson High School in Portland, Oregon, leading his team to a playoff berth in 6A.  

The depth continues with Trey Lowe, Ta’Ron Madison, Isaiah Newell, Kanoa Shannon, Mikey Alfieri and Logan Horton. 

A lot of talent in this Oregon State running back room in 2021 and the question heading into this season will be how the coaches plan to utilize it.