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September 15, 2011LaMichael James can do it all. Against the Nevada Wolfpack he scored touchdowns three different ways: rushing, receiving and punt return. Versatility such as this is something Duck fans could have seen earlier had the 5-foot-9, 195 pound junior been given the chance.
Duck Sports Authority spoke with Oregon's nationally-respected running backs coach, Gary Campbell, to get his take on his latest NFL-bound prot?.
"He's always had that talent but we've been afraid to use him a lot because we didn't want to get him injured," explained 27-year Oregon coaching veteran Gary Campbell. "Obviously he was our main guy. Now that we've got a little more versatility in the backfield with De'Anthony back there and Tra Carson in addition to Kenjon as always, it gives us a little more opportunity to use LaMichael in some different ways."
Knowledge of the playbook, good hands, speed, good ball security, power: What is left for such a well-rounded running back to work on?
"Now the main thing he needs to get better at is pass blocking," assessed Campbell. "Obviously he's gained a little weight so it's going to help him in that department. Not that he doesn't have the technique. But being outmanned the way he was a little bit last year because of the difference in the weight was something that needed to be improved upon. So he's gained a little bit of weight. I think he's going to be more sturdy now, but he's a pretty well-rounded player."
After adding ten pounds of mass in the off-season, some pundits have questioned whether the Texarkana, Texas product might have lost a step. Campbell had an emphatic response.
"I think that's a bunch of malarkey," stated Campbell. "I don't think he's lost any speed whatsoever. In fact, in the off-season, he had his personal best as far as 40-time. So the weight hasn't bothered him at all. He's actually gained the good weight and gained more muscle and lost body fat. So no, I don't believe he's slower at all. I think he's stronger, but he's just as fast."
This year Coach Campbell has several men in addition to James he can call upon such as Barner, Thomas and Carson. But as the Oregon Ducks continue their quest for the Pac-12 title, LaMichael James will be the man.
Follow A.J. on Twitter @AJ_Jacobson