The Rolls Royce isn't driving off into the sunset just yet. On Wednesday, it was announced that Oregon running back Royce Freeman will return for his final season in a Ducks uniform.
There was much speculation before the 2016 season that Freeman would pass up on his final year with the Ducks in favor of going to the NFL. However, this season, Freeman struggled to produce while dealing with injuries. He rushed for 945 yards and nine touchdowns, making it the first time in Freeman’s three seasons at Oregon that he failed to rush for over 1,000 yards. It also marked the first time in 10 years that Oregon didn't have a 1,000-yard rusher.
Freeman exploded onto the scene as a freshman in 2014, rushing for 1,365 yards and 18 touchdowns. The next year, he was even more impressive, rushing for 1,836 yards with 17 touchdowns, averaging an astonishing 6.5 yards per carry.
Had Freeman produced another season like that this year, it is likely he would’ve declared for the NFL Draft. However, with Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and LSU’s Leonard Fournette both declaring for the draft this year, Freeman will be much better off waiting for the 2018 draft.
In his statement announcing his return, Freeman said that the idea of playing for new head coach Willie Taggart was a big factor in his decision, citing Taggart’s enthusiasm and vision for the program.
If Freeman can return to his old self in 2017, his future in the NFL could be a bright one.