Oregon Ducks running back Royce Freeman isn’t ready to make the leap to the professional level just yet.
Freeman will be returning to the Ducks for his senior season, according to an official press release from the university of Wednesday:
University of Oregon running back Royce Freeman, who has led the Ducks’ rushing attack each of the last three seasons while claiming second-team All-America acclaim following his 2015 campaign, has announced his intention to return to school for his senior year.
The 20-year-old Freeman will enter the 2017 season with 4,146 career rushing yards accumulated over his three years with the Ducks, placing him 2nd all-time on Oregon’s career rushing yards list behind LaMichael James.
Only 9 rushing touchdowns will be needed from Freeman in his senior season to tie James for the number one spot on Oregon’s all-time rushing touchdown list. Freeman spoke earlier in the season on how it feels to keep rewriting Oregon’s record book:
“It’s pretty amazing,” he said. “It’s a good feeling knowing the previous backs that came before me and all the hard work they put in at this university. Knowing of those guys and actually talking to some of them personally, to have the ability to pass them makes me feel good.”
Freeman had Heisman Trophy aspirations entering the 2016 season, but those were shot out of the building after he found himself injured against the Nebraska Cornhuskers three weeks into the season. He would then miss the Ducks’ next game against the Colorado Buffaloes.
Oregon also endured a coaching change during the year, as head coach Mark Helfrich was fired and replaced by Willie Taggart just three days after the team lost to the Oregon State Beavers in the final game of the season. The Ducks would then finish the season with a disappointing 4-8 record.
Freeman is excited for what Taggart will bring the program in his final season:
“However, the prospect of playing for Coach Taggart my final year here was certainly a factor in my return,” Freeman said. “His enthusiasm and vision for this program are contagious. I am certainly excited to be coached by him and enhance my development.”
Collectively in 2016, Freeman rushed for 945 yards on 168 yards, while reaching the end zone a total of 10 times.
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