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Early Outlook of Oregon's Running Back Depth Heading Into the 2022 Season

With CJ Verdell and Travis Dye gone, who will step up to take the carries left behind?

For the last four seasons CJ Verdell and Travis Dye have been major parts and at times even the only parts of the Oregon rushing attack. That will no longer be the case in 2022, with both Verdell and Dye moving on from the program. Verdell announced on Monday that he is staying in the NFL Draft and will not return for his final season of eligibility.

Dye on the other hand, entered the transfer portal and moved on to USC where he will use his final year of eligibility next year.

Oregon’s already moving on themselves and looking for reinforcements to fortify their running back room. Colorado running back transfer Jarek Broussard visited Eugene last weekend and would be a great addition for the Ducks and would be in line to be a major contributor early. Broussard was the 2020 Pac-12 offensive player of the year despite having played behind a poor offensive line in Boulder.

Another Oregon target is 2022 prep running back Jordan James from Oakland High School in Murfreesboro, Tenn. He was also on campus last weekend and the current Georgia commit is considering Oregon.

An additional player to watch is 2022 Parrish (Dallas, Tex.) Episcopal High School running back Andrew Paul, who may well be the hottest recruit in the country right now. Paul has seen his stock soar of late, completing official visits to Colorado, Michigan, and most recently Clemson last weekend. The Ducks are working to get him to Eugene for an official visit this weekend.

Oregon still has three very capable running backs on the roster right now in Byron Cardwell, Seven McGee, and Sean Dollars. Starting with Cardwell, he showed great promise as a true freshman last season rushing for 417 yards on 61 carries and finding the end zone three times. He blazed his own trail to become the clear-cut number two running back behind Dye after Verdell suffered a season-ending injury.

Cardwell showed off great vision, patience and speed as a freshman and should have an opportunity to become a feature back in Kenny Dillingham’s offense next year.

McGee will be another extremely interesting piece for Oregon in 2022, as he finished 2021 as a wide receiver due to depth issues following injuries and transfers. He then entered the transfer portal after the regular season’s end but Dan Lanning and Don Johnson convinced him to stay on board.

McGee finished 2021 with 14 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown as a rusher and another seven receptions for 84 yards as a pass-catcher. McGee’s versatility will certainly give him a great opportunity for an enhanced role in the offense next season as he has the talent to be Oregon’s next elite offensive weapon.

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Finally, we look at Dollars, who after the shortened 2020 season looked like he could become a feature back for Oregon moving forward. But a significant leg injury in the spring forced him to miss the entirety of the 2021 season.

Dollars has shown he can be a difference maker, playing a role in Oregon’s Pac-12 Championship Game victory over USC in 2020. The Ducks hope he can get back to that explosiveness that he showed in that game. While it's been a while since we’ve seen Dollars, don’t count him out as someone who can contribute to Oregon’s rushing attack next season.

While it’s likely Oregon will add either a transfer or prep back (or both) to this room before spring ball, the Ducks have three quality options going into next season currently on the roster. While the depth might not be there, opportunities will be aplenty to help replace the amazing production left by Verdell and Dye over the past few seasons.

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