In January, Oregon Ducks junior running back LaMichael James declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft. This announcement took place shortly after the Ducks all-time leading rusher concluded his college career in grand style by rushing for 159 yards and a touchdown in his team’s 45-38 Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin.
Despite missing two games due to a dislocated right elbow, James rushed for 1,805 yards and 18 TD’s during his final season in Eugene. The native Texan averaged a nation-leading 150 yards per game in 2011.
At 5-9, 195 pounds, James relies on breakaway speed considerably more than an ability to separate himself from tacklers. When combining this speed with an ability to catch passes out of the backfield, the best hope for James is that he can become a change of pace back, ala Saints great Darren Sproles.
Draft experts believe James will be a mid round selection in April’s Draft, giving him the chance to make a roster and begin the season as perhaps a third back on a team’s depth chart.
Home Depot Center also served as Oregon’s and Wisconsin’s practice venue, during the lead up to this year’s Rose Bowl. Check out iFollowSports.com original video of the Badgers leaving practice, a couple days prior to their loss in Pasadena.
Wednesday, James and Stanford phenom Andrew Luck were exiting the practice field, when I asked if they would pose for a photo with me. Both college stars could not have been nicer, as the Pac-12 big names took a moment to pose for a photo, while the other pushed the button on my camera.
Both men indicated that they were heading to Indy on Thursday.
As can be deducted from the above iFollowSports.com original photo, James is not the tallest of football players, particularly compared to the 6-4 Luck. In fact, James and I were virtually at eye level when posing for the photo and I am only 5-7.
What James may lack in height, he clearly makes up for in sheer athleticism. James appeared to be in fantastic shape, while wearing yet another piece of Oregon gear manufactured by Nike.