Oregon Ducks Football Gets 2011 Boost: LaMichael James Returns for Junior Year

Joe PenkalaCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2010

EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 18: Running back LaMichael James #21of the Oregon Ducks heads to the end zone for a touchdown in the first quarter of the game against the Portland State Vikings at Autzen Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Eugene, Oregon. Oregon won the game 69-0.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

One of the biggest questions for the Ducks after the 2011 BCS National Championship Game is over was if Heisman finalist LaMichael James would return for his junior year. Today, through an Oregon spokesperson, James allowed all fans to breathe easy as he announced that he will in fact be back for the 2011 season.

James has expressed many goals for his collegiate career and one in particular has yet to be achieved: being an Academic All-American. While James will look to accomplish another goal on January 10th in Glendale, a third season at starter will almost assure that James will lock up all Oregon rushing and scoring records.

Another 2011 goal may be the Heisman. James came in third this year in the voting and would be an early-season favorite for the Heisman next year. James would also have a chance to be Oregon's first back-to-back All-American.

Regardless of what happens in the national title game, this announcement has insured that the Ducks will remain a preseason Top Five team and will again be loaded on offense. Going into next year, Oregon will return James, Darron Thomas and Kenyon Barner, a three-headed monster that has scored at will all year.

While James certainly has the talent to go pro this year, an additional year at Oregon would allow him to develop and improve his ability to catch passes out of the backfield and would give him another year to put on some weight, which could only help at the pro level.

Through two years, James has helped the Oregon offense achieve heights not seen in Eugene. Throughout the 2010 season, James was a workhorse and helped the Ducks wear down opposing defenses and run away with games in the second quarter.

An immediate benefit of this announcement is the fact that James will not have to face question after question about what he will do after the season is over. He can now remain focused on Auburn's defense and how he can help lead the Ducks to their first national championship.