NCAA FB

Kenjon Barner is ready for his closeup

Share This Story

   
 

EUGENE, Ore. (AP)

Kenjon Barner is quick to say that he is no LaMichael James.

And he doesn't want to be.

Barner takes over this season as the top running back for Oregon now that James has moved on to the San Francisco 49ers. He said he's ready to establish his own legacy with the Ducks - separate from the one-two punch he formed with James the past two seasons.

''The only thing that's similar between me and LaMichael is the fact that we're friends. We're two completely different guys, two completely different players,'' Barner said. ''So as far as comparisons go, LaMichael is great at doing LaMichael, and I'm great at doing Kenjon.''

Often over the last two seasons, Ducks coach Chip Kelly referred to Barner as option ''1A'' behind James, inferring that the two were nearly interchangeable. Indeed, the team didn't appear to lose a step last season when James missed two games with a dislocated right elbow. The Oregon Ducks went 12-2 capped by a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin.

Barner was the Ducks' second-leading rusher - behind James - for the past two seasons. He ran for 939 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, and caught 17 passes for 184 yards and three scores.

In three seasons at Oregon, the 5-foot-11, 192-pound back has rushed for 1,856 yards. He has 26 touchdowns. Barner needs 1,441 yards this season to take over for Derek Loville (3,296) as the program's second all-time leading rusher behind James.

James, a Heisman trophy finalist as a sophomore, announced in early January that he was going to skip his senior year to enter the NFL draft. He was taken in the second round by the Niners. James finished his career with 5,082 rushing yards. He was the first Pac-12 player to have three straight 1,500-yard seasons.

Despite his absence, and the departure of quarterback Darron Thomas, the Ducks are ranked No. 5 in the preseason AP rankings. Oregon opens at home Sept. 1 against Arkansas State.

The Ducks haven't yet named a starting quarterback to replace Thomas, who was 23-3 in leading the Ducks before leaving early for the NFL draft.

Bryan Bennett, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, was Thomas' backup last season, throwing for 369 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions. Marcus Mariota, a 6-foot-4 redshirt freshman, played well in the spring game, setting up a position battle that has gone on behind closed doors during fall camp. Kelly said this week that he will release a new two-deep depth chart on Friday.

Barner jokes that he indeed has a preference at quarterback: Hall of Famer Steve Young. ''I'd be glad to welcome him to Oregon,'' he laughed.

Kidding aside, Barner said: ''Whoever starts at the position will do a great job. They're two very capable guys of leading this offense - not only this offense, but leading this team - to where we want to go.''

Also undefined for the Ducks is the role of dynamic playmaker De'Anthony Thomas - but that's on purpose.

Thomas is both fast and versatile, going from running back to wide receiver to kick returner. He didn't attend regular position meetings last season and instead game-planned individually with Kelly. In the end, he set an Oregon freshman record with 18 touchdowns: seven rushing, nine receptions and two on kickoff returns.

Thomas is the most likely one-two combo with Barner.

''Usually we have two guys and we split the carries between those two, so depending on the depth behind those two guys will determine how we will use them, but you will see them both on the field at the same time,'' Kelly said. ''I think what that presents to a defense - with some of the other weapons we have from a skilled position standpoint - is something that's going to make defensive coordinators stay up late at night.''

Barner agrees.

''I kind of see it developing the same way as the coaches developed me and LaMichael,'' he said. ''When me and LaMichael were on the field at the same time it was dangerous for defenses to defend, because you not only have to worry about one guy, you have to worry about another who is also a major playmaker. You have that in De'Anthony.''

Two seasons ago when Oregon went undefeated and played in the national championship game against Auburn, Barner missed two games because of a scary concussion.

Flattened on a kickoff return by Washington State's Anthony Carpenter, he was hospitalized. Afterward James showed him the clip of the hit on YouTube but Barner remembered none of it.

Barner, who says he still doesn't remember anything but running onto the field that day, believes the hit made him a better player because he was forced to overcome the fear of being injured again.

''You can't afford to be nervous. You can't afford to be timid, you can't afford to think about anything else other than making the play because if you're timid, that's how you get hurt,'' he said.

There was plenty of speculation earlier this year that Barner might leave Oregon with pal James for the NFL. But he decided to stay and earn his degree in criminology, which he did this spring. After football, he envisions a job with the FBI.

Barner also stayed because he has something to prove.

''I'm definitely ready,'' he said. ''I've been preparing for this for quite some time now. I feel physically ready and well as mentally ready.''

Tagged: Oregon, Kenjon Barner, LaMichael James, Washington State, Darron Thomas, Anthony Carpenter, De'Anthony Thomas, Anthony Thomas

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

College Football Pick'em on FOX


NCAA FB Videos

AJ Pasquale's journey back to UCLA Posted: Jun 17, 2014
UCLA football ops intern AJ Pasquale describes his own personal journey after th...

Winston issued adult civil citation Posted: Apr 30, 2014
Get the latest news surrounding Jameis Winston's recent shoplifting fiasco.

Mark Emmert against unionization Posted: Apr 06, 2014
NCAA president Mark Emmert comments on unionization for student-athletes.

Get Inside the Locker Room with Scout.com

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/759777/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_759000/ff_759777_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_State_Spartans/browse/featuredproduct/760171/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_760000/ff_760171_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White
    Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_USC_Trojans/browse/featuredproduct/761373/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_761000/ff_761373_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/829709/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829709_xl.jpg&w=100 64.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimso..
    Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_LSU_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/829740/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829740_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple
    Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_Sooners/browse/featuredproduct/830935/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_830000/ff_830935_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/861243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861243_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue
    adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Nebraska_Cornhuskers/browse/featuredproduct/861247/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861247_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapback Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1087345/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1087000/ff_1087345_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapba..
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1093431/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1093000/ff_1093431_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash