Deshaun Fenwick admits that Corvallis is nothing like home.
“Corvallis, man?” he says with a laugh. “It’s a place where I check my ego at the door. It’s pretty peaceful out here. It’s different.”
Fenwick, the newest addition to Oregon State’s running back room, is a Bradeton, Florida, native who spent the past three years at South Carolina. The stark contrast between life in the southeast and life in the Pacific Northwest has taken some getting used to.
But after just a few weeks of spring ball, Fenwick has seen enough to know that Corvallis is the ideal location for the next act of his career. A 6-foot-2, 226-pound redshirt sophomore, Fenwick views himself as a player who can do “everything” at the running back position and will try to prove that as he spends the next few months battling for the starting running back spot.
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“Me being an east coast guy, living in the South, it’s kind of a culture shock,” Fenwick said. "Ultimately, it’s pretty good. For me, it just gives me time to figure out what I need to do to improve myself and improve all my football skills to get to the next level.”
According to those who work with him everyday, Fenwick has hit the ground running since he arrived. A.J. Steward is in his first season as Oregon State’s running backs coach and said Fenwick’s football IQ has stood out immediately.
“He knows the playbook like the back of his hand,” Steward said. “You would have thought he’s been here for a few years already with his understanding of the playbook.”
While Steward will play a major role in how Fenwick progresses, former running back coach Michael Pitre played a major part in getting Fenwick to Oregon State. If it weren’t for him, Fenwick’s arrival in Corvallis may have never materialized.
After entering the transfer portal last winter, Fenwick had decided on a different school for his next home — he didn’t care to share which school. But a last-minute intervention from Pitre got him to change his mind.
“Coach Pitre reached out hours after I made my decision. I just recalibrated a little bit and determined that this was the best place for me,” Fenwick said.
A major factor in that decision was the fact that Jermar Jefferson had already declared for the NFL Draft. The opportunity to compete for a starting job was high on Fenwick’s list of priorities, and Jefferson’s departure created that chance.
The Beavers' current stable of running backs is quite diverse. B.J. Baylor has 381 career rushing yards for the Beavers and is far and away their most experienced ball carrier as far as in-game action goes.
While serving as a dynamic backup to Artavis Pierce and Jefferson over the past three seasons, Baylor has flashed the ability necessary to be a No. 1 back in the Pac-12. But he will need to shake the injuries that have hindered him in the past.
Baylor and Fenwick might be at the top of the running back depth chart midway through spring, but freshman Isaiah Newell and Ta’Ron Madison have drawn raves reviews from the coaching staff, and sophomore Trey Lowe is a talented, speedy back who provides something a bit different than the rest of the group.
Fenwick, however, provides a proven track record against high-caliber competition. He ran for 523 yards on 97 carries during his time at South Carolina, and in 2020, added a pass-catching element to his game and pulled in 14 passes for 108 yards.
Everyday he just comes to work trying to figure out how he can clean his game up and take the next step forward,” Steward said. “Usually that’s a really good recipe for success moving forward. We’ve just got to keep him working and stay the course, but I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen so far."
Jarrid Denney can be reached at 541-521-3214 or via email at Jarrid.Denney@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @jarrid_denney