Jordan James is running with anger, and Dan Lanning approves

After two seasons of Bucky Irving as the top dog in the Oregon Ducks running back room, Oregon will have a new leader at RB in 2024. Oregon has a deep crop of talented backs on the roster, but Jordan James, a junior, is the heavy favorite to be the Ducks’ top running back next fall.

In his first two seasons, James showed he is an elite running back, despite a low volume of touches. In 2023, James played in all 14 Ducks’ games, rushing for 759 yards and 11 TDs, averaging 7.1 yards per carry.

After Oregon’s ninth spring practice on Tuesday, Ducks head coach Dan Lanning was asked about how James has developed this spring, now that he’ll likely be sliding into the top RB spot.

“I think Jordan is running like an angry guy, which is exactly how you want your running back to run,” Lanning said after practice on Tuesday. “Right, he’s out here and has really improved this spring.”

Part of Oregon’s offensive identity in the Lanning era has been throwing to the RBs out of the backfield, letting them use their elusiveness to create big gains in open space. It’s an area where Irving excelled and a skill Lanning thinks James has improved a lot this offseason.

“I’ve seen him do more out of the backfield with his hands,” Lanning said. “He has a better understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish on the field. So really proud of Jordan’s development and where he’s at.”

Also returning at running back for Oregon is Noah Whittington, who suffered a season-ending injury last September against Colorado. In 2022 — Whittington’s first season as a Duck — he split carries with Irving, rushing for 779 yards on 5.6 yards per carry. I still expect James to be the lead back for Oregon this fall, but don’t sleep on Whittington as a second option.

Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire