You could search college football over and be hard-pressed to find a quarterback/running back duo that has been more productive than Oregon Ducks’ stars Darron Thomas and LaMichael James.
Both players are draft eligible this season, and with a rising stock, many question if this will be their last game together as Oregon teammates.
While you never know what a young man might decide, I imagine this will be their last season together but only one will enter into the NFL draft.
Darron Thomas has amassed some impressive stats during his career at Oregon. He has over 6,000 total yards and 72 total touchdowns with only 16 interceptions. However, he is still very unpolished and will need another season in college.
Thomas is a great athlete and could be drafted as a hybrid quarterback/receiver. At the same time, his stock is likely to improve if he stays one more season. His best option is to add 15 to 20 pounds of muscle over the next year.
He might lose a little speed but it would improve the perception of him greatly. He has a lot to learn but will be taken higher than expected when he does enter the draft.
LaMichael James, on the other hand, is likely to enter the draft after this season. If James was to return for his senior season, he would likely shatter the NCAA all-time rushing record.
James currently has 4923 career rushing yards and 52 touchdowns. The current record is held by former Wisconsin Badger Ron Dayne with 6397 yards. He could also break the NCAA career rushing touchdown record with 21 more.
As enticing as the career records, Heisman trophy potential, and a possible national championship run, he has to consider his career earning potential.
James is only 5’9" and 190 pounds. An NFL running back only has so many hits he can take on his frame. Those are likely to be less with James because of his small stature. Moreover, he has already carried the ball 746 times. How many more can he take before entering the draft.
James and Thomas could help Oregon return to their second national championship game in three seasons. This already effective offense could take the next step. However, there comes a time that a player has to look at what is best for him in the long term.
I hope they both come back but I think James is unlikely. However, if they pull an Andrew Luck this team could be very special.