Posted by Chip Patterson
In news that may possibly be considered somewhere between "good" and "freaking fantastic," Oregon running back LaMichael James announced that he plans to return to the Ducks in 2011. Head coach Chip Kelly said that nine underclassmen evaluated their NFL draft options, and all nine would be returning to the Ducks next season. James' made his return official through the school's website.
“I came to the University of Oregon to get a quality education as well as to play football, and feel I have yet to complete that goal,” James said in the official release on GoDucks.com.
After leading the nation in rushing, and finishing third in the Heisman balloting, there is certainly plenty of upside for the sophomore to make the jump. But for those close to the program, there is little surprise that the first team Pac-10 academic all-league choice is taking his education seriously. Returning to school also basically guarantees him Oregon's all-time rushing record. A mark that he is currently just 68 yards shy of reaching.
It also helps the team's focus heading into the media frenzy associated with the National Championship Game. Having this matter sorted out before the questions are answered will help keep Oregon's focus on the field. Considering the many off-field issues Auburn will continue to have to avoid answering discuss, this could be considered a slight intangibles advantage for the Ducks. Might not make a huge difference, but if this game is as close as we hope and expect, every little thing will count.