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Royce Freeman eschews NFL, returns to Oregon for senior season

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Willie Taggart has in part himself to thank for his first significant “recruiting” win since taking over as Oregon’s head coach earlier this month.

Coming off a season in which injuries played a role in slowing him down, Royce Freeman announced Wednesday that he has decided to return to the Ducks for his senior season.  While the running back thanked his formed head coach in a statement, Freeman stated that Taggart “was certainly a factor in my return.”

Below is the back’s statement, in its entirety.

After consulting with my family and giving this considerable thought, I feel this is the best decision for me in regards to my future on and off the field. My education was one of the most important reasons I chose to come to Oregon and that priority hasn’t changed.

“I wish to thank Coach (Mark) Helfrich and the entire coaching staff for the roles they have played in my success thus far. I am extremely grateful to Coach (Gary) Campbell for everything he has taught me and the influence he has had in my life over the last three years.

“However, the prospect of playing for Coach (Willie) Taggart my final year here was certainly a factor in my return. His enthusiasm and vision for this program are contagious. I am excited to be coached by him and to enhance my development.

“All praise to the Most High; and Go Ducks.

Despite the injury issues, Freeman led the Ducks in rushing for a third straight season with 945 yards.  He rushed for 1,365 as a freshman in 2014 and a school-record 1,836 last season.  He’s less than 1,000 yards away from breaking LaMichael James‘ school record for career rushing yards (5,082) and needs 10 rushing touchdowns to break James’ mark of 53.