The greatest Duck ever

LaMichael James is leaving the Ducks for the bucks. The Oregon all-purpose running back is skipping his senior season for the NFL draft.

During his press conference on Friday, James indicated that he was told he will likely go in the third round. His relatively diminutive size (5′ 9″, 195 pounds) is the likely reason he will not be a first-rounder. But it is his speed combined with agility and a seemingly innate talent to break tackles that will bring a lucrative pay day.

James got his start as a freshman after teammate LeGarrette Blount was suspended for punching a Boise State player immediately after the Ducks’ 2009 opening game. He grabbed the opportunity to go on to rush for 1,546 yards, a Pac-10 freshman record. His following season was perhaps his most complete, including a dazzling performance that quieted a raucous Neyland Stadium late summer crowd.

That’s what Tennessee fans will remember the most about LaMichael James. Oregon-Tennessee was James’ first game of the 2010 season because of serving a one-game season for an offseason misdemeanor harassment charge. The budding superstar had only 27 yards at halftime after having a target painted on his chest by the Vols’ defense. But it all soon came crashing down for Tennessee — the start of many second-half ineptitudes in Derek Dooley’s first two years as the Vol head coach — punctuated by James’ 72-yard touchdown run on which he broke several tackles. It was the highlight of Oregon’s 45 unanswered points.

James gave Oregon football its swagger. He gave college football’s fashion kings the right to wear different swag every week. He added to the joy that is Oregon Duck football. Here are some of the LaMichael James highlights.

  • Three straight seasons of 1,500 yards rushing, the first Pac-12 player ever to achieve that mark.
  • The school record for most rushing yards in a season (1,805 yards in 2011 with a 150 yards per game average), even with missing two games due to a dislocated elbow.
  • School records for career rushing yards (5,082), touchdowns (58), most 100-yard rushing games (26), and points scored (348).
  • Seven games with more than 200 yards rushing.
  • Three straight Pac-10/12 championship teams.
  • Rose Bowl winner — the first for Oregon in 95 years.
  • Two-time All American.
  • Heisman trophy finalist (2010) — third behind Cam Newton and Andrew Luck.
  • Winner of the Doak Walker award (2010) as the nation’s premier running back.
  • A degree in Sociology this spring.
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