By Sam Finley

[Editor’s Note: Just three days after this article was published online, Travis Dye made his decision to transfer to the the USC Trojans.]

At 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, no one will tell you that Travis Dye is the biggest guy on the University of Oregon football team. However, the potential for the junior running back to become a large contributor has been there since his freshman year, when he dashed for a 49-yard score against Portland State.

“That was my first touchdown,” he says. “And it probably is my favorite.”

Dye hasn’t been a stranger to the end zone during his time as a Duck. That was especially true earlier this season, when he scored four touchdowns on four handoffs in a 41-38 win over UCLA.

Crossing the goal line, “there’s no other feeling like it,” Dye explains. “That’s especially true in Autzen Stadium. It’s so gratifying. It’s all these emotions and energy hitting you at once, and what it means to be human when you cross that end zone. It’s crazy.”

UO running back Travis Dye
The Oregon Ducks take on the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California on October 23, 2021 (Photo by Eric Evans Photography)

What makes plays like that possible? Dye says it’s all about going with the flow and not overthinking matters when he sees the hole the Oregon offensive line provides him.

“Absolutely nothing is going through my mind,” he says. “It’s completely blank. I’m just there and I’m playing football. I’m not thinking about the hole or what I’m going to do in the hole. I just do it. I’ve prepared enough to know all the plays, so it’s all second nature when I have the ball in my hands.”

Dye has been called upon to do even more recently, after his teammate and leading rusher CJ Verdell suffered a season-ending injury. That has meant more handoffs and a greater leadership role for the Norco, California, native. But Dye has been up to the challenge, as he proved when he ran for 145 yards in a 24-17 win over Cal.

“It’s been awesome,” Dye says. “It’s been a blessing and a pleasure to be able to get to do this with my teammates. I’ve worked really hard to be at the spot that I’m at, and it’s been great to see it unfold.”

With everything from another Pac-12 title to even a College Football Playoff spot still on the table in 2021, Dye believes the best will happen if his Ducks can stay focused.

“It’s all about being disciplined,” he says. “We have to stick to our one-play-at-a-time, one-day-at-a-time mentality to keep winning.”

Regardless of how this year unfolds, Dye’s fondest memories at Oregon will always be his first two seasons, when he played with his older brother (and current Minnesota Vikings linebacker) Troy Dye.

“It was awesome to play with him,” Dye recalls. “It was the best experience I’ve ever had, getting to play with my older brother on a Division I level. Not everyone can say they’ve done that. We don’t talk every week about how I play. But we do talk every week. If it’s about football, it’s about football. But we do have very lengthy conversations about Oregon football for sure.”

And, of course, Dye also wants to join his brother at the next level and would love to emulate the careers of some of his favorite NFL players.

“I love Austin Ekeler on the Los Angeles Chargers,” he says. “He’s a great back. And, growing up, my favorite was LaDainian Tomlinson. I look up to guys who are my size and stature, run super hard, and get stuff done.”

In the meantime, Travis Dye is happy to be in Eugene for reasons other than what might happen on the gridiron.

“I like a lot of things about this place,” he says. “I love the people and the area. There’s such a vibe to Eugene. There are trees everywhere, and there are seasons. My hometown in California is always super hot, and there are maybe three trees on a block. But Eugene is completely different, and that is super cool.”