Running back Royce Freeman committed to Oregon in July of 2013, and he's easily one of the Ducks' marquee 2014 recruits.
According to the 247Sports composite rankings, Freeman is the No. 8 running back nationally and the No. 11 player from California. The 247Sports exclusive rankings have Freeman ranked even higher. He's the No. 2 back and No. 2 player from California, per their rankings.
No matter the rankings, it's rather obvious that Freeman is bringing a lot to the table for Oregon.
What exactly does that mean from a football perspective though?
Here's a complete scouting report on the Ducks' commitment:
|School:||Imperial High School|
|Weight:||215 pounds (247Sports)|
|40:||4.58 seconds (247Sports)|
|Rankings:||5-star, 247Sports||4-star, ESPN RecruitingNation||4-star,Scout||4-star, Rivals|
247Sports.com, ESPNRecruitingNation.com, Scout.com, Rivals.com
Freeman is a big back, but he displays surprising agility and great speed. As stated above, he runs a 4.58 40, according to 247Sports.
You look at him and see a power back, but he has all the skills and intangibles of a much smaller scatback. He'll be a great fit at Oregon.
Freeman has quick footwork, exceptional balance and is explosive. He hits the hole hard and gets upfield quickly. He's big enough to pound it between the tackles, and he won't be afraid to get physical, lower his shoulder and pick up tough yards. He also has a great stiff arm.
That said, Freeman displays great vision and can cut and change direction on a dime. His footwork and agility allow him to plant, take a sharp angle and create a new running lane.
In the next few screen grabs, you get a good look at his full set of moves. In the first picture, he shows off his powerful and effective stiff arm. In picture No. 2 it's hard to see, but notice how he's able to plant his foot, push off hard and change direction, leaving the defender grasping for straws:
This last screen grab gives you a much clearer view of Freeman's agility and cutting ability. Notice the sharp plant, which allows him to juke the defender and get upfield quickly:
Small details make a big difference in football. There were times, even in his highlights, when Freeman would swing the ball back while he was running. He was moving his arms to create momentum, but it also left the ball exposed on the backswing.
That's not a big deal at the high school level, but in college, defenses will catch up and strip the ball.
As a running backs coach myself, I'd like to see him bring his off arm over more and cover the ball up with five points of pressure (fingers, forearm, tucked elbow, chest, off arm).
Freeman is highly-ranked, and for good reason. He has a great blend of power and speed, and he should be utilized to perfection in Oregon's scheme. He can be a short-yardage back, but also a big play threat. He's not quite as explosive as Thomas Tyner, but he could end up being a great No. 2 for the Ducks.
Note: All scouting and analysis done by writer, via tape study of film provided on Freeman's 247Sports profile page.