Oregon's Byron Marshall wins first shot to replace Kenjon Barner

Byron Marshall is not on top of the depth chart at running back, but is likely to be on top of the Oregon stat sheet in most rushing categories after being listed as the backup to De'Anthony Thomas.

With Thomas likely to continue in his all-purpose role as a dynamic rusher and pass catcher, Marshall was competing with several others, including touted freshman Thomas Tyner, for the bulk of carries that were handled by Kenjon Barner before he graduated.

Barner had 278 rushes last season, the most by an Oregon running back in Chip Kelly's four seasons as head coach, after LaMichael James averaged 238.5 in his two seasons as lead runner. Even if Thomas sees his rushes increase by six per game -- a risk considering his lean build -- that leaves more than 200 attempts to account for.

Marshall, a sophomore from San Jose, Calif., has earned the first shot at taking on that workload. In a reserve role last season, Marshall appeared in 11 games and ran for 447 yards (5.1 yards per carry) with four touchdowns. His older brother, Cameron, starred at Arizona State and was signed as a free agent and waived by the Miami Dolphins.

While listed at 5 feet 10 and 207 pounds, Marshall has a different running style than previous Ducks standouts, relying more on bruising power than breakaway speed. But that won't limit how coaches use Marshall.

"I could see him moving out and running out of some of the same sets that we put in for De'Anthony," running backs coach Gary Campbell told the Oregonian. "In fact, (offensive coordinator Scott) Frost has mentioned that he's as good as the wide receivers in terms of running the routes and catching the ball."

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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