July 27, 2014

Duck RB recruits to wet feet early

The Oregon Ducks have a rich tradition at running back, and that is one of the reasons they are so attractive to recruits at the position. Every year coach Gary Campbell seems to bring in new talent who can play.

In the Class of 2012 it was Byron Marshall, in 2013 Thomas Tyner and then last year Royce Freeman and Tony James.

And like this years' commitment Taj Griffin, Campbell expects his recruits to have what it takes to play sooner rather than later.

"Nowadays, with the amount of scholarships that we have, especially since we play more games now and in a very tough league where guys get beat up, I tell guys when they come in now 'prepare yourself to play'," said Campbell. "If something happens with them and they are not ready, then we always sit down with them and have that discussion.

"It's never a cut and dried thing. We want the players to play and if they are willing and able to get out there early then they are going to be on the field."

The last three recruiting classes certainly hold true to that form.

"Obviously (returning starters) Tyner and Byron in my mind right now are going to start the rotation off," said Campbell. "I would like to eventually see Royce in that rotation and I believe he will be."

The veteran coach concedes that newcomers Freeman and James, like everybody, will have to earn their snaps.

"Guys can have a lot of talent but if they don't feel good about what they're doing, if they don't feel comfortable, if they don't feel like what they know what they are doing then they are never able to show their true talents," explained Campbell. "A perfect example is when DAT come in. He was really comfortable doing everything so he was able to contribute right away.

"If those guys can learn to that level, if they can come in learn the offense and start to feel comfortable they can make a big contribution. I believe Royce Freeman, from what I know about him thus far, think he'll come in and I think he'll learn the offense really quickly and I think he'll be a big part of it.

"I think the same thing about Tony (James). He is a very conscientious guy who wants to know what he is doing and is a sponge for information. So I think he'll be comfortable early on. I think he'll be able to help us. So both those guys are going to be able to come in. Probably a limited amount in the beginning, but I believe as the season wears on and they get more and more familiar with we're doing, they are going to make big contributions."

While Freeman will likely play a more traditional RB role in the Oregon offense, James may be destined for more of a hybrid RB/WR like the now Kansas City Chief Thomas.

"I think Tony is going to be a guy who is going to be into that rotation out of the backfield because of our limited amount of receivers," said Campbell. "I think he'll be doing a little bit of that which he is very good at. He seems to be very open to doing that because of some of the vacancies there."

The Ducks kick off their season at home against a South Dakota team which will likely find itself quickly overwhelmed by the powerful Pac-12 team. This should give Campbell an opportunity to see what his new guys can do.

"Early on I want to see as much of those guys as possible in action," said Campbell of Freeman and James. "I hope we are in a position that we are able to get them out there and get their feet wet."



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