Somewhat lost in all the talk of coaching changes and promotions is the exceptional work of running backs coach Gary Campbell, who has mentored 18 1,000-yard rushing seasons by 14 different players. Credit also to Steve Greatwood and Neal Zoumboukos (1980-2005) who coached the offensive lines that powered these great performances:
Gary Campbell's 1000-yard running backs
Tony Cherry 1985 llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1006
Derek Loville 1988 llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1202
Ricky Whittle 1995 llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1021
Saladin McCullough 1997 lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1343
Rueben Droughns 1999 llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1234
Maurice Morris 2000 lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1188
Maurice Morris 2001 lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1049
Onterrio Smith 2001 llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1058
Onterrio Smith 2002 llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1141
Terrence Whitehead '04 llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1144
Jonathan Stewart 2007 llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1722
Jeremiah Johnson 2008 lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1201
LeGarrette Blount 2008 lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1002
LaMichael James 2009 lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1546
LaMichael James 2010 llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1731
LaMichael James 2011 llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1805
Kenjon Barner 2012 lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1767
Byron Marshall 2013 llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll 1038
When Adam Sparks of Yahoo Sports asked Campbell about this great run back in 2010, he said, "I don't really think about it that much. I realize that those guys were all great players. I'm constantly in contact with all of them. And I think more about our relationships than I do about their accomplishments as players, because they all became very close to me; they were like my sons, and they still are."
Marshall may be the most unappreciated of Campbell's pupils. The running game was a potential question mark for the Ducks following the graduation of Kenjon Barner and LaMichael James heading for the NFL, but the sophomore from San Jose cranked out 6.2 yards per carry and 14 touchdowns last season despite missing the Civil War and being injured early against Arizona. Taking over from De'Anthony Thomas after DAT's ankle injury he reeled off five straight 100-yard games, six total for the season. Thomas Tyner chipped in 711 yards as a true freshman, 9 more tds, also 6.2 a carry.
Both of Coach Cam's young running backs return in 2014, and they'll be aided by newcomers Royce Freeman and Tony James, plus redshirt freshman Kani Benoit and senior Ayele Forde, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship this last season. Forde filled in capably off the bench last year, pacing the group with an average of 6.4 a carry. Tyner and Marshall showed promise catching the football as well, combining for 27 receptions for another 289 yards, displaying the hands to be used more in that role this fall.
The outlook for this unit is tremendous. They're deep and talented with the potential to be both explosive and more effective at the goal line and in short yardage as Freeman, Tyner and Marshall all mature, improving both their strength and vision. Freeman, at 6-0, 225, gives them a dimension the team hasn't had since Blount, who scored four touchdowns for the Patriots in this weekend's playoff game, left for the NFL.
In 2013 Marshall had 31 runs of 10 yards or more, 11 of 20 yards or more, 5 of 30+, and three of over 40. He also had pass receptions for 23, 35, and 36 yards.
Tyner had a solid freshman season, improving steadily as the year went on, capping it off with a 140-yard effort in the Civil War, his first time over the century mark as a collegian. A 10.35 sprinter in the 100 meters, he hasn't completely harnessed his speed as a college running back. Though he debuted with a 31-yard td run versus Viginia, scampered a 66-yard touchdown run versus Washington State (aided by a terrific block from Keanon Lowe) and broke loose for 40 on the first play from scrimmage against the Beavers, many times it appeared he was an ankle tackle or a slip or a stumble away from beating the last defender at the second level.
With a quick burst and good size for someone so supremely fast, he can only get better as his vision, strength and balance improves. Provided he stays healthy and applies himself, he could easily find his way to the Gary Campbell honor roll in his next two seasons, and make a successful transition to the pros, perhaps becoming Oregon's next 1000-yard rusher in the NFL as well.