Even without reports that Oregon running back LaMichael James would be entering the 2012 NFL Draft, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that redshirt junior would be moving on to the next level following the Rose Bowl Game early next month.
We’ve already beaten this dead horse: the shelf life of running backs at the next level is shorter; it’s probably wise for RB’s who have a chance to make a jump to do it.
Still, James hasn’t made that move official.
“There’s really nothing going on,” James said of leaving early. “I don’t really know what happened with that deal. But I know my family called me, like, ‘You declared for the draft?’ I think it’s kind of an unfair statement for somebody to go out and say something I didn’t say.”
It was an interesting year for James. He led the nation in rushing average this season despite dealing with injuries for a good chunk of the year. Yet, he was not a Heisman finalist, nor a unanimous All-America selection. He was both in 2010.
That’s probably a tribute to how deep the talent pool was this season more than anything else.
James still has a chance to be one of the first few running backs selected if he decides to declare for the draft (he’s already sent in his paperwork for evaluation). He probably will too. Right now, he’s just saying all the right things.
“My future is irrelevant right now. Come Jan. 3, then it will be relevant. Then my season will be over. But I owe it to my teammates and my fans and the coaches to think about (the Rose Bowl) right now, and that’s my most important goal right now.”