Byron Marshall Leads Oregon's Potent Backfield
By Scott McCourtney
By the end of a thrilling 2013 Pac-12 season, four out of the five top rushers were juniors or seniors. The one that wasn’t, was Oregon running back Byron Marshall.
Marshall was fifth in the Pac-12 in average yards per game and was one of four running backs that gained over a thousand yards as a sophomore. Expect the young, talented running back to advance on a stellar 2013 where he earned an honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors and keep NFL scouts drooling.
The 5-foot-10 junior from San Jose, California rushed for more than 100 yards six times with a career high 192 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Washington State. After following in the steps of recent great running backs LaMichael James, LaGarrette Blount and Kenjon Barner he became the full time starter in his sophomore season.
Marshall was injured for the Oregon State game and played poorly against Stanford, but now that he is healthy and named the starter for the 2014 season, the Ducks will turn to their bell cow to carry an offense that lacks proven receivers.
Without a proven set of hands to turn to, quarterback Marcus Mariota will depend on Marshall and sophomore Thomas Tyner to help with the load.
“Those two guys are two special guys. Thomas, him having his true freshman year being able to do what he was able to do, he went through a couple ups and downs throughout the season but the way he was able to maintain and grow throughout. Byron is my guy, he was there when I was there. To see the progress he's made since his freshman year to now ... they're going to have an extremely talented backfield. [There are] a lot of great things to look forward to for those guys,” stated Kenjon Barner former Duck and Carolina Panther running back from The Oregonian.
Tyner came into his freshman season a five-star recruit out of Aloha High School in Aloha, Oregon and he played like one when he got the ball. The True-Freshman All-American finished the year with 711 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. He will get reps during games and in the strange case that Marshall falters, look for Tyner to pick up the pieces to prove his worth as a starter.
Also keep an eye on Tre Madden of USC out of Mission Viejo High School. After missing his freshman year because of a knee injury, Madden finished the year with 703 rushing yards with 3 touchdowns. He mostly played just the first six games before hamstring injuries slowed him down for the rest of season. If healthy this 6-foot-1, 220 pound junior could turn some heads and bring some light to the darkness at USC.