EUGENE - University of Oregon running back LaMichael James has announced he has filed paperwork with the National Football League with the intent of entering the 2012 NFL Draft.
The 5-9, 195-pound Texarkana, Texas, junior and the most prolific running back in school history stressed his decision was not an easy one, especially when taking his teammates and coaches into consideration.
experience at the University of Oregon has been one unlike any other, and one I
will never forget," James said. "I am grateful for the people I have met, the
things I have learned, and the amazing community I have had the privilege of
being a part of over the last three-and-a-half years. The community of Eugene
welcomed me with open arms and has supported me since the day I arrived. I am
lucky to have been a part of such an amazing place. I can truly say Eugene is
my home away from home and a place I will always hold in high regards.
"As for my coaches and teammates -- they are my family. I love each and every one of them and am eternally grateful for having each of them be a part of my life," James emphasized. "It has been both an honor and a privilege to be a part of something as great as the UO family."
James said he has yet to hire an agent but would likely do so in the near future.
The two-time consensus All-American led the nation in rushing in both 2010 and 2011, averaging 150.4 yards per game this season, to finish the year running for a school-record 1,805 yards. The Ducks' all-time rushing leader (5,082 yards) also ranks second in conference history in career rushing and points scored by a non-kicker (348).
He completed his collegiate career running for 159 yards and one touchdown in Oregon's 45-38 win over Wisconsin in the 98th Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO.
"I am 100 percent behind LaMichael," Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly said. "He is a very special person and certainly will be remembered as one of the very best players ever to wear a uniform at the University of Oregon. It has been a pleasure to coach him for the four seasons he has been here and is comforting to know that he will obtain his degree this spring. I could not have asked anymore from him and I am confident he will be a success at the next level."
The 22-year-old two-time first-team all-conference choice (2010, 2011) and Oregon's first three-time 1,000-yard rusher shared team Most-Outstanding-Player honors in 2009 and 2010 while eclipsing the majority of the school's rushing and scoring records. He also became the first player in conference history to run for more than 1,500 yards in each of three seasons.
Among the Oregon records now owned by James are most points scored in a single season (144, 2010) and career (348, 2009-11); most touchdowns - season (24, 2010), career (58, 2009-11); most rushing attempts - season (294, 2010); most rushing yards - game (288 at Arizona, 9-24-11), season (1,805, 2011), career (5,082, 2009-11); most all-purpose yards - game (363 at Arizona, 9-24-11), career (5,869, 2009-11); most 100-yard rushing games - season (9, 2009, 2010), career (26, 2009-11); and most 200-yard rushing games - season (4, 2011), career (7, 2009-11).
James becomes the eighth Oregon player ever to forego a final season of eligibility for early entry into the NFL Draft and the school's third running back, joining Onterrio Smith (2003) and Jonathan Stewart (2008).