Oregon Ducks RB Royce Freeman returning for senior season

Royce Freeman (KPTV file image)

Oregon Ducks running back Royce Freeman will return for his senior season.

There was speculation Freeman would enter the NFL Draft, but the university announced Wednesday that Freeman would return to school and play for the Ducks in 2017.

Freeman ranks second on Oregon's all-time rushing list with 4,146 yards, trailing only LaMichael James who compiled 5,082 yards from 2009-2011.

Freeman has 44 career rushing touchdowns, second only to James with 53.

Freeman ran for 945 yards in 11 games last season, though he was slowed by injuries.

“After consulting with my family and giving this considerable thought, I feel this is the best decision for me in regards to my future on and off the field,” Freeman said. “My education was one of the most important reasons I chose to come to Oregon and that priority hasn’t changed."

In a statement, Freeman thanked former coach Mark Helfrich, but noted playing for new coach Willie Taggart was a factor in his decision to return to Oregon.

“Royce represents the type of young man that we intend to build this program around. Not only does he stand out as one of the top running backs in the country, he epitomizes the character of the type of student-athlete we are looking for as well as the work ethic of someone who truly wants to be here," Taggart said in a statement released by the university.

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