Gresham (Ore.) High junior Devauntae Hoffman is one of the better running backs in Oregon, blessed with speed (he runs the 100 and 200-meter sprints for the Gresham track and field squad in the spring), strength and an impressive amount of the ever cherished commodity of "escapability."
In fact, few players could claim to equal the elusiveness that Hoffman flexed on the near-miraculous return you see below from his team's 63-40 victory against Reynolds (Ore.) High. Go ahead and watch it the second time through in slow-mo, which shows just how great Hoffman's escape truly was (though it can be hard to view the frames where Hoffman is sprinting down the sideline without hearing a "Chariots of Fire" soundtrack in the back of your mind).
If you count the missed Reynolds tackles on that return, you find that Hoffman somehow eluded six different shots before reaching the open field … then reaching the end zone just as the seventh attempt was put in low around his ankles.
What's more impressive are the quality of tackles he broke. As soon as Hoffman fielded the ball, he was practically completely wrapped up, with one defender coming in low and another sandwiching him high.
How he slipped out of both those players' grasps nearly defies physics. He then was able to squirm out of other hits by flashing both his speed and a deft collection of feints, though one final defender seemed to have him lined up as he headed toward the left sideline.
That's when Hoffman channeled his inner Earl Campbell. The Oregon junior doesn't exactly have the size of the Tyler Rose, but he had enough of Campbell's famed forearm strength to plant a major stiff-arm to ward off the last unblocked defender before he could reach the open field, paving the way to the most spectacular of four touchdowns Hoffman would rack up in the win.
"That's where I make my money," Hoffman told The Oregonian, which covered the game and produced the video of the highlight reel run you see above. "We weren't going to return it, but I saw an opportunity and my teammates made some good blocks to get me free."
Normally, a coach would be furious at a player who disobeyed his calls to let a punt roll to its own end. Given the results on this return -- and the potential for game-changing plays every time he touches the ball -- it seems likely those limitations doesn't apply to Hoffman.
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