Ex-Oregon running back Travis Dye is latest transfer to join Lincoln Riley at USC

·3 min read
Oregon running back Travis Dye (26) during an NCAA college football game Saturday.
Travis Dye carries the ball during a game between Oregon and Washington State on Nov. 13. (Andy Nelson / Associated Press)

Few running backs in the history of Oregon football can say they had a career as prolific as Travis Dye. The Pac-12’s leader in all-purpose yards last season, Dye racked up over 3,111 rushing yards, 869 receiving yards and 29 total touchdowns over four years in Eugene, cementing his place in the annals of Oregon football as the fifth-leading rusher in school history.

And now, he’s on his way to L.A., the latest top transfer to be reeled in this winter by new Trojans coach Lincoln Riley.

Dye, who starred at Norco High, announced Friday on Instagram that he’ll transfer to USC for his final season of collegiate eligibility. He’s the second running back to commit to the Trojans from within the conference in two days after Stanford’s Austin Jones announced he was joining USC’s backfield on Thursday.

The two Pac-12 backs should offer a major boost in a backfield that lost its top two rushers from last season. Without Keaontay Ingram, who declared for the draft, and Vavae Malepeai, who ran out of eligibility, USC was down to three scholarship running backs at the start of the week: Darwin Barlow, Brandon Campbell and incoming five-star freshman Raleek Brown. Junior Kenan Christon remains suspended through May and is still currently in the transfer portal.

But in Dye and Jones, USC adds an abundance of Pac-12 experience to that uncertain picture. Between the two of them, the new transfer backs have combined for 5,665 career all-purpose yards and 42 total touchdowns over their careers in the conference.

It’s unclear how they’ll shake up USC’s shallow running back rotation. But Dye returns home to Southern California to presumably take the reins as USC’s top back. Few in the Pac-12 were more dangerous as an all-purpose weapon last season, as Dye led Oregon in rushing yards (1,271) as well as receptions (46).

Jones wasn’t quite as prolific at Stanford, but still led the Cardinal backfield in carries in each of the last two seasons. He was Stanford’s second-leading rusher and fourth-leading receiver in 2021.

Running back Austin Jones carries the ball for Stanford against Washington State on Oct. 16.
Running back Austin Jones carries the ball for Stanford against Washington State on Oct. 16. (Young Kwak / Associated Press)

The two backs are just the latest transfers to sign on at USC since Riley’s arrival. The Trojans have already added 10 transfers this offseason, two more than they have recruits signed in their 2022 class. Sixteen players from last year’s roster have since entered the portal with the intent to transfer elsewhere.

But the most significant transfer on the market continues to keep USC waiting. Even as speculation rages over a possible reunion with his former coach, Caleb Williams has yet to show his hand about his preferred transfer destination.

If the Oklahoma freshman has any intention of enrolling at USC ahead of spring practice, a deadline for that decision is fast approaching. All full-time USC students must be enrolled in classes by Jan. 28 to take part in the spring semester.

Whether Williams ultimately takes the lead in the Trojans’ transfer parade remains to be seen. His arrival would complete what’s been a near total makeover of USC’s offense through the portal.

The Trojans have already added three receivers, two running backs and a starting offensive lineman through the portal. And they likely aren’t done yet.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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