The game of football is in Travis Dye’s blood, but the passion he brings to the field is all his own.
USC running back Travis Dye is the youngest of the Dye brothers to play football in the Pac-12. The next step in carrying on the family tradition is playing in the NFL.
Dye’s experience growing up alongside his siblings was just like any other kid. “We always had our competitions,” Dye says, “but we were always there for each other no matter what, whenever we needed each other.” And it’s clear when he talks about his family that their bond has never weakened, no matter the distance between them.
Growing up in Norco, California, Dye’s world revolved around sports. His brother, Troy, was a 4-year starting linebacker at Oregon and is now with the Minnesota Vikings. His brother, Tony, was a safety at UCLA from 2008 to 2011 and went on to play for the Cincinnati Bengals. Tony was also a member of Team USA hockey on the Junior Olympics squad. His brother, Jordan, was a wide receiver at Sterling College. His father, Mark, played football at San Jose State and went on to play in the Houston Astros minor league system.
“My family was predominantly a hockey family first,” Dye said. In highschool, he found himself interested in another game, lacrosse. With the guidance of his two talented older brothers however, he ultimately fell for the sport that he describes as his true love – football.
“It was easy to just roll right into [football] because it was all I really experienced growing up – playing sports.”
But a love like that doesn’t come without its doubts. Dye says even he sometimes stops and wonders if he’s “big enough to play on that type of stage.” But as quickly as the doubts creep in, he knows exactly how to keep himself grounded.
“Is this, you know, being in the moment? Am I where my feet are at?,” Dye says, “It brings me back to what I’m doing right then and there, it kinda takes away from what I was thinking.”
And if fans spend time on Dye’s Instagram, it’s obvious he takes that mentality of living in the moment off the field. His feed is filled with photos that perfectly capture his passion for the game, but also his biggest fan, his wife Erin. What these photos can’t capture though, is the way he lights up when he talks about her.
“She’s there every step of the way — she’s there — every decision I’ve ever had to make through football, she was there to guide me, to help me make the right one, the one that I wanted to make, and made sure my mind was clear through the whole process.”
When it comes to the big moments, Dye won’t hesitate to tell you who he’s celebrating with. “With my family. All the time with my family,” says Dye. The people who made his decision to leave Oregon and head back to his home state of California a little easier.
Dye spent four seasons playing for the University of Oregon under head coach Mario Cristobal. And he didn’t do it without making a name for himself. He began his time with the team by playing in all 13 games as a true freshman, and ending his last game with Ducks as only the fifth player in Oregon’s history with 3,000 rushing yards. His success with the team opened doors and when he saw the opportunity to get closer to his family once again, he took it.
November 28, 2022, a day USC fans will never forget.
Watching the news that shook college football from over 861 miles away, Travis Dye, an All Pac-12 honorable mention from 2020-2022, pondered his future.
“I knew the staff that they were bringing in was really going to whip SC back into shape…” Dye said in a recent interview, “… I really wanted to be a part of that.”
For Dye, that doesn’t just mean learning from his teammates and coaches, he hopes to bring his own knowledge to the team. Number one being his “strong leadership” that he says will help create a culture built for championship games. And when it comes to getting the team there, Dye believes actions speak louder than words. “I back my words up and let the guys trust me before I start barking orders or anything like that.”
But that’s not all that sets him apart from other college athletes. Dye never takes the game for granted. Like almost every athlete, he’s seen his fair share of injuries on the field, but instead of being fearful of the what ifs, he focuses on what he can control.
(Photo by Yannick Peterhans/USC Athletics)
“I’m gonna play like it’s literally my last play because I really don’t know when this game is going to be taken away from me,” Dye says. “I’ve seen it many times, careers get cut short all the time.”
Dye is currently ranked No. 1 in the Pac-12 this season (as of 10/21/22) in both rushing yards and touchdowns. He has continued to approach the game with a humble mindset while playing a massive role in Lincoln Riley’s high powered offense.
Even with all his playing experience and success, Dye understands he’s not a complete player quite yet. “I want to grow all around, but more on my pass blocking for sure. I want to grow there big time,” Dye stated. “I’m working on it everyday. Getting the techniques down.”
Dye has a clear love for his family and the foundation needed to achieve greatness. As the 2022 USC season continues, follow Dye’s journey on Instagram at @babydye23.
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