May 2, 2012

2013 In Depth: Running Backs

In February, Duck Sports Authority began looking at the recruiting needs for the Oregon Ducks 2013 signing class with a brief look at each position and the anticipated signing numbers at each position. This month we will expand on that with an in-depth look at the recruiting at each position.

The first position we will look at in this series is running back. With LaMichael James departed and Kenjon Barner entering his final season in a Duck uniform, the running back position is one of great need for the Ducks moving forward. Our look cannot be exhaustive enough to include every single running back who has interest in the Ducks and/or might be a good fit, so we will focus on those players that have an offer as well as any players that might be intriguing based on their interest level and talent.

Thomas Tyner

Status: Offered, Committed

Overview: Tyner combines good size with blazing speed. At 6'0" tall and 200 pounds, Tyner is the kind of running back the Ducks have not had since the departure of Jonathan Stewart. In addition to his nearly ideal size, Tyner is an explosively fast runner. The state record holder in the 100 meter dash, Tyner is a breakaway threat any time he touches the ball.

Entering his senior year, Tyner is ranked the number nine overall player in the nation and is the number one ranked running back in the 2013 recruiting class.

Strengths: Tyner has the aforementioned explosive ability to break just about any carry into a long touchdown. He has also caught passes out of the backfield and seems to have decent hands out of the backfield. His speed makes him a natural on kickoff returns and he doesn't disappoint there either. Though he has the speed to run by just about any defender in the state, Tyner carries the ball up the middle very well and has great field vision. With his size, he has shown the willingness to lower his shoulder when needed.

Weaknesses: With a player this good, it is difficult to find any "weaknesses." However, Tyner has not been asked to block a lot so will need some work on recognizing blitzes and blocking in order to become an every down back. Tyner has had some hamstring injuries over the past year which may become a concern of he cannot stay injury free. The injuries, though, have not appeared to be serious or significant; more of a nuisance to himself and fans alike.


Tyner committed to the Ducks in November 2011. Despite a momentary scare when Coach Kelly flirted with the NFL, Tyner is considered a solid commitment.

Dontre Wilson

Status: Offered, Medium Interest

Overview: Wilson is not quite as big as Tyner, but at 5'10" and 176 pounds, Wilson has some room to grow and put on a solid 10 pounds before he ever steps on to a college football field. Wilson is a fast, natural runner who catches the ball well out of the backfield. He has the kind of speed and elusiveness that will be very reminiscent for Duck fans.

Wilson is ranked as the number two all-purpose back in the nation and number 186 overall prospect.

Strengths: Wilson is a fast runner with good open field vision and the ability to make people miss in tight spaces. He shows the ability to explode through the middle of the line at times as needed. He moves around a lot and catches a lot of passes; some coming out of the backfield, some lined up as a receiver. His vision also makes him an excellent kick returner. He shows some occasional hard runs where getting the "extra yard" is important and he does not shy away from contact.

Weaknesses: Though he catches a lot of passes, Wilson uses his body and arms to catch too may balls which can be corrected fairly easily. Though he shows the ability to run through tackles at times, he will need to improve his strength to go along with his exceptional speed. Wilson is not asked to block much and likely won't be asked to block much for Oregon either.

DSA Odds: Very good Wilson has visited Oregon on his own dime which is a good sign. He has stated he does not intend to take many road trips to see schools that are far from home and Oregon will likely be his only trip outside his home area until it is time for official visits. Look for the Ducks to be a serious contender for Wilson's commitment. The odds right now are probably 30-50% chance that Wilson becomes a Duck.

Justin Davis

Status: Offered, Medium Interest

Overview: Justin Davis is similar in size to 2012 Oregon signee Byron Marshall. At 6'1" and 195 pounds, Davis has great size and strength that would be a nice compliment to any other backs the Ducks could sign. With already good size, Davis still has room to add some size to his strong frame. Davis is rated the fifth best running back in the nation and 48th overall player.

Strengths: Davis runs well to the edge and has deceptive speed getting to the corner when it looks like the defender has the angle. He has strong legs and his feet keep moving through contact creating plenty of yards after contact. Davis has good vision in the open field. He also has a deceptively effective jump-cut move.

Weaknesses: While Davis is deceptively fast at getting to the outside on running plays, he does not appear to have that "extra" gear that would make him a true breakaway threat to break off big gains at the next level. He does not catch many balls out of the backfield. Like many, he has not been asked to block much so it is difficult to know how he would handle that, but he does appear to have the right type of frame and mindset to be a good blocker on blitzes.

DSA Odds: Long-shot Davis is, for the most part, down to a final three schools of Washington, Cal and USC. Unless something changes, expect Davis to be off the board soon and likely headed to Washington.

Derrick Green

Status: Offered, Medium Interest

Overview: Derrick Green is similar in many ways to Justin Davis. They have similar size, with Green just a tad bigger at 6'0" and 215 pounds. He is a big, strong runner with legs that can overpower many defenders. He shows great ability to pick up yards after contact. Green, a four star running back, is ranked just behind Davis as the sixth ranked running back in the nation and number 64 overall prospect.

Strengths: As is obvious with his size, Green is an extremely strong runner with powerful legs. He seems to enjoy contact and loves to deliver hits on defenders as he is carrying the ball. If he gets into one-on-one situations with defensive backs, he will win the battle many times with his sheer strength. He is excellent carrying the ball in the red-zone with his powerful legs that keep churning after first contact.

Weaknesses: Green shows great power, but lacks breakaway speed. He is similar in size and style to Tra Carson. Green was not used much as a receiver so it is difficult to project how he would fare at catching the ball out of the backfield. He runs deliberately at times.

DSA Odds: Long-shot Hailing from Richmond, Virginia and having declared Clemson as an early leader, Green recently visited Virginia Tech and was very impressed with their entire program as well as their campus and facilities. He was, however, very excited by the Oregon offer. A trip to Oregon might change these odds, but at the moment, the Ducks appear to have less than a 10% chance of landing this talented running back.

Terrell Newby

Status: Offered, Medium Interest

Overview: Newby is a smaller back at 5"10" and 180 pounds, but looks bigger than his listed size. Watching film of Newby he looks similar in running style to current Duck walk-on Ayele Forde. Newby shows good instincts and runs hard through the hole. He is a good open field runner who shows a good ability to cut back and make defenders miss. Newby is ranked as the number 31 running back in the nation and shows offers from half of the schools in the Pac-12 Conference.

Strengths: Runs low to the ground and makes people miss. Runs through the middle and is not afraid of contact. Runs very well in tight spaces or the open field. Appears stronger than his 180 pound frame would suggest. Keeps his legs moving providing him with great power after contact. He seems to have the right mentality and decvent enough strength to be an effective blocker as needed.

Weaknesses: Newby is kind of a "tweener" who runs like a big back, but without the size to back-up the mentality. He does not have breakaway speed. When he does make it to the corner on outside runs, he rarely turns that into the long runs like other players his size with more speed.

DSA Odds: Very Good Newby has several offers from Pac-12 schools, he was quoted in February as saying that Oregon stands out for him. He has high praise for Coach Campbell and has expressed an interest in visiting both for Junior Day and an official visit. It is possible he could commit shortly after a visit. If there is a spot available after his visit, there is a 40-60% chance that Newby becomes a Duck.

Donnel Pumphrey

Status: Not Offered, Medium Interest

Overview: Pumphrey is a "small" back listed at 5'9" and 170 pounds, but he runs strong and has very good speed out of the backfield. Though he is officially listed as having medium interest in all schools, Pumphrey has said that he considers Oregon his favorite early in the process; and this was after receiving his first offer from San Diego State.

Strengths: Pumphrey is a very fast runner who has clocked a 10.84 on the track. He has turned that speed into exceptional productivity averaging 10.2 yards per carry as a sophomore (1102 yards rushing) and 24.7 yards per catch out of the backfield. Pumphrey added over 1600 yards rushing as a junior and had another strong season catching the ball as well. Has shown the willingness and ability to carry the ball up the middle and was very successful.

Weaknesses: Lacks ideal size for a running back is about the biggest weakness. Pumphrey has not had the highest caliber competition playing out of Canyon Springs High School in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Has not bee productive in the red-zone scoring just 8 total rushing touchdowns in his 1600 yard junior season.

DSA Odds: Very Good Though he is listed in the database as having medium interest in the Ducks, Pumphrey has already expressed that he is very interested in Oregon and, in fact, called them his leader even after receiving his first offer from San Diego State. Pumphrey has excellent grades with a 3.7 GPA, so he should be little risk academically. One other note which makes him desirable to many Duck fans; Pumphrey is the cousin of Jerome and Jeremiah Johnson. If the Ducks were to offer, there is a 70-85% chance that Pumphrey selects the Ducks.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The original projection called for the Ducks to be looking at adding two running backs in the 2013 class. With Tyner already committed that left just one more spot. However, as is often the case at this time of year, things have changed for the Ducks with the departure of Tra Carson for Texas A&M.

That leaves the Ducks somewhat thin at the running back position depth wise. Entering the 2013 season there will be just two running backs with experience; De'Anthony Thomas and Byron Marshall. If the Ducks are able to land Dontre Wilson, look for them to take another running back that could be redshirted and allowed to grow into the program and learn on the scout team. That third running back of this class would be an ideal spot for Newby or Pumphrey.

Revised projection for this position is now 2-3 running backs.

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