It’s been quite the year for LaMichael James. As he approached camp a year ago, the Oregon running back wasn’t expected to have any sort of impact in the Pac 10. Instead, after LaGarrette Blount’s “Punch Heard ‘Round the World,” James took center stage and turned out to be one of the top freshmen in the country.
But James became one of the topics in an offseason full of tumult in Eugene, Ore., when he was arrested on domestic violence charges in February. One month later, four of five charges against him were dropped and he pleaded guilty to physical harassment. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and 24 months of probation.
Now, as he prepares for the start of camp in Oregon, James is trying to put the incident behind him. That will likely come easier after he serves a one-game suspension.
LaMichael James joined KFXX in Portland with Isaac and Big Suke and while he couldn’t discuss the details of his case, he did talk about the rocky offseason, his suspension and what the Ducks will do after dismissing quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.
On what he’s learned during this offseason:
“Really, we’ve just got to stick together more as a team. Everything is a team event. With losing our quarterback, everything is really focusing and wants to pick up the slack.”
On whether he is a different man after going through the off-field issues:
“In some ways, but in some ways I’m not. Before the incident I was probably still the same LaMichael that I am today. I’m not going to change who I am based on that once incident in my life.”
On whether the accounts that have been described by the media are an accurate portrayal of what happened when he was arrested:
“No, not at all. The media really took it and ran with it. … They really made it look like I was just totally guilty from the start.”
On whether a one-game suspension is fair:
“In some ways not and in some ways yes. I did plead guilty to a harassment charge so I’ve got to deal with that consequence.”
On putting the incident behind him:
“I think of it as I’m never going to live that day again in my life. That day will forever be a past of mine. I can only move forward into the future now.”
On what he would say to fans who are disappointed by the Ducks’ off-field incidents:
“Everyone makes mistakes. I feel like there are people who make mistakes every day and it doesn’t make them a bad person. It doesn’t make them a bad person because they got caught. Just because someone got caught … doesn’t mean he’s a horrible person.”
On how the loss of Masoli will affect the team:
“We really won’t know until the first game. We can’t pick and choose who’s going to be the QB and how they’re going to react. Just like losing our running back last year, [people] thought our season was done because we lost a 1,000-yard rusher and a no-name running back comes in.”
On whether becoming a star has changed him:
“No it doesn’t change anything for me. I’m still going to be the same person. I’m still going to go out and practice hard and work hard each and every day. It’s not going to change anything for me because everything can be gone just like that.”