Consider LaMichael James a fan of the NFL’s new Nike uniforms.
Coming from a school like Oregon, which became something of a Nike showcase due to its ties with Nike founder Phil Knight, James loves sporting a swoosh on his uniform. In fact, he even crossed off the names of a few potential colleges because they were outfitted by the wrong apparel company.
“I would not go to two or three colleges, just because they were Adidas,” James said in an interview with KNBR on Monday. “Weirdest thing ever. I wouldn’t go to Arkansas and I wouldn’t go to Mississippi State because they were Adidas schools. No three stripes for me. All Nike.”
On draft day, James didn’t know where he was going to end up. He was surprised once he got the call from 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, and said he’s eager to get to work once he finishes up his final semester in Eugene, Ore.
“I had no idea that they were going to draft me,” James said. “I was thinking I might slip into the third round, which was OK, but then all of the sudden I get a phone call from Coach Harbaugh and they told me they were going to take me.”
James already has a bit of history with Harbaugh, as the two did battle at the college level when Harbaugh coached at Stanford. The speedy Oregon running back went 1-1 against his new boss and said he always wanted to elevate his game when playing against Harbaugh.
“He’s a very, very, very intense coach,” James said. “I just wanted to play him and I wanted to beat him, all the time. Every time we played them, there was just an extra passion to beat him. That’s how I felt all the time because they were so aggressive. They took pride in that aggressive nature and being more physical than everybody else, so when we played them I was extra aggressive.”
The 22-year-old Texarkana, Texas, native also revealed he considered transferring away from Oregon after his first two seasons because of the immense cultural differences between his hometown and Eugene. Ultimately, James stuck with it and played an instrumental role in elevating Oregon to a national powerhouse during his three-year career.
“I’m proud to say I was a part of that,” James said.
For now, he will be busy with his studies as he wraps up his college degree. James won’t be able to join the 49ers until mid-June, as Oregon will hold finals from June 11-15 and commencement on June 18. Listening to the soon-to-be graduate, it’s clear education is still a priority.
“It’s always good to have that degree,” James said. “We’re always one snap away, and that’s true for everybody. You can’t play football forever.”
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