Star Running Back LaMichael James Leaving Oregon for NFL
NFL 2012 Draft
After helping Oregon conquer Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, junior star running back LaMichael James decided it was time to leave for the NFL.
The former Heisman Trophy finalist James, who set the all-time rushing yards record at Oregon, will skip his senior season and declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft.
James indicated in Friday's news conference that he would have returned for his redshirt senior season next fall had the Ducks lost to the Badgers in the Rose Bowl.
"It would have affected my decision 100 percent," the 22-year-old James, who rushed for 159 yards and a TD in Oregon's 45-38 Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin, said at a press conference.
"Because I owe it to my teammates, and I want to go out a winner. I wanted to win a bowl game," he added.
In the same press conference, James, Oregon's first unanimous all-American in 2010 and one of four consensus all-Americans in UO history, said that he would be doing workouts to improve his status after he was told he's likely a third-round pick.
The 5-foot-9, 195-pound All-American became Oregon's career rushing leader this season with 5,082 yards, passing Derek Loville.
James led the nation with an average 150.4 yards a game for Oregon (12-2) this past season, and rushed for 1,805 yards, a school-record, and 18 TDs. He is the first Pac-12 player to register three straight 1,500-yard seasons.
He set the previous school mark of 1,731 yards last year, when he helped lead the Ducks to the BCS National Championship Game against Auburn.
James, considered one of the top running backs throughout his college career, finished third in balloting for the Heisman Trophy last season behind Auburn's Cam Newton and Andrew Luck of Stanford.
In 2011, James was recognized with his second Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back. He first won the award as a sophomore.
James, who has indicated that he not hired an agent yet, leaves Oregon with several school records, including most career touchdowns (58), most career 100-yard rushing games (26) and most career points (348).
The redshirt junior from Texarkana, Texas, is the eighth Ducks player to leave school for the draft with eligibility remaining.
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