Deshaun Fenwick sparks Oregon State's football team to impressive wins.
When Oregon State's football team ripped USC 45-27 Sept. 25, many college football fans probably had never heard of Deshaun Fenwick.
Now they're getting familiar with the running back in a hurry.
Fenwick, who is a redshirt sophomore playing his first season with the Beavers, rushed for 53 yards in the win over the Trojans and then was the Beavers' leading rusher with 70 yards in a 27-24 win over Washington on Oct. 2.
Oregon State is 4-1 after four consecutive wins and Fenwick, a Braden River High graduate, has been a big part of the surge after having just 12 carries combined in the first three games but 23 carries and 123 yards rushing in his last two games.
The win over the Huskies proved the Beavers victory over the Trojans was no upset. They racked up 322 yards rushing in that game alone.
Fenwick signed with South Carolina out of high school but transferred this offseason after the Gamecocks fired head Coach Will Muschamp in the middle of the 2020 season. Muschamp went 28-30 at South Carolina but lost 14 of his last 20 games. Thanks to flexible redshirt rules and the NCAA giving all fall athletes who participated in the pandemic-affected 2020 season an extra year of eligibility, Fenwick is considered a sophomore despite playing in parts of three seasons at South Carolina, when he recorded 97 carries for 523 yards and two touchdowns.
Fenwick said he was first intrigued by Oregon State because of Michael Pitre, who served as the school's running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. Fenwick had been in contact with Pitre during his initial college recruitment. When Fenwick entered the transfer portal in December, Pitre reached out. From there, Fenwick got a feel for the school and decided to become a Beaver in January. Pitre would leave Oregon State for the Chicago Bears in February, but Fenwick remained committed to the school.
"The team embraced me with open arms," Fenwick said. "They knew I was a transfer. They knew it would be different for me coming from South Carolina, east coast to west coast. I really appreciated that."
Staying with the Beavers was the right decision. Fenwick said he knew the coaching staff liked to use multiple running backs so he was sure he would get an opportunity to play. Fenwick said he also likes how his game fits with the other backs on the roster, like junior B.J. Baylor, who leads the Beavers with 533 yards rushing in five games. Whereas Baylor likes to use his speed to bounce outside the tackles, Fenwick is more of a vertical runner, often opting to go through the teeth of the defense to get tough yards when they are needed.
Fenwick said he has re-tooled his entire style since his high school days.
"At Braden River, I was freestyling," Fenwick said. "I was just reacting to things that happened on the field. I was trying to learn how to be a football player. Now, I feel like I am a true running back. It has been a long road to refining my game the last few years. I mean, I know how to read a defense now and find the gaps. Back then, I didn't. Being able to communicate in football terminology has helped me so much and is something I am proud of."
While the Beavers are off to a strong start, only stumbling in their season-opening 30-21 loss to Purdue, Fenwick said the best is yet to come.
"We're not even close to our potential," Fenwick said. "We go to work every day. This is a blue collar team. Yeah, we've won a couple games, but we haven't done much of anything yet."
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