December 29, 2011
Is Oregon running back LaMichael James having second thoughts about going to the NFL?
A couple weeks ago, the Oregonian cited a source inside the Oregon program as saying that James was not coming back for his senior season. However, James to express opposite feelings when speaking to the media at the Rose Bowl on Thursday.
"People are going to talk about what they're going to talk about, but they don't know me. They don't know what's best for me," James told a group of reporters. "College is the best time of your life. I play for a great running backs coach (in Gary Campbell). Coach Kelly is one of the great offensive minds.
"The only reason people make that jump is because they have a dream to pursue an NFL career. Most of them chase the money. I'm not going to chase the money. I'm having fun in college right now. I love being with my teammates each and every day, and some of my best friends are on this team. I know if I went to the NFL, I would never play with those guys again. So I don't want to think about that right now. All I want to think about is playing with these guys right now. ...
"I love coach Campbell and I love my teammates and I love being in Eugene. I love everything about it. I think once you go to the NFL it's more of a business, and right now I'm still a kid."
I guess it's hard to argue with the last point.
Perhaps James, who is projected to be a high draft pick, is starting to rethink things after USC quarterback Matt Barkley made a proclamation that he wanted to be a part of "some serious unfinished business" at USC and decided to return for his senior season despite being a projected first round pick. After all, James could say the same thing. Even though he's played in a national championship, his team didn't win. Similarly, he's been to the Heisman ceremony, but came up short there as well. And of course, there's the issue with his elbow, which might give some pro teams pause when thinking about drafting him, though injury didn't hamper the draft status of former Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, who was the No. 1 overall pick.
James has maintained all along that he will wait until after the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2 to make his final decision:
"I would be a fool not to consider it," he said. "I considered it last year, but does that mean I'm going to leave? It doesn't mean anything. I'm not going to think about that till next week. I have to talk about things like with my family, but right now the best thing for me is looking forward to playing a great team like Wisconsin.
"My teammates, they come out here and practice hard each and every day, and so do the coaches. For me to come out here and say, 'Hey, I'm thinking about going to the NFL right now,' that's totally selfish of me, and I'm not going to do that."