Indiana RB Sampson James Makes 'Personal Decision,' Enters NCAA Transfer Portal

Tom Brew

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The greatness that was expected from Indiana running back Sampson James is apparently going to happen at another school.

James, the highly coveted 4-star recruit from Avon, Ind., who spurned Ohio State to sign with Indiana, has entered the NCAA's transfer portal and is now free to talk to coaches from other schools. Reached Monday night, Avon football coach Mark Bless, who is James' legal guardian, declined to comment, saying only that "it's a personal decision.''

His departure is a major blow to the Hoosiers, who saw plenty of potential in James during his freshman year. The highlight was his breakout game against Purdue. Getting the start with Stevie Scott out with an injury, he rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. 

He finished the season with 275 yards on 81 carries, a 3.4-yard average.

When James arrived in Bloomington, he quickly moved up the depth chart behind established starter Stevie Scott. He passed Cole Gest, who transferred before the season, and then relegated Ronnie Walker Jr., to more of a third-down back. Walker has entered the transfer portal as well, doing so last month.

So when Scott couldn't go against Purdue, it was James' time to shine.

“This means everything to me. It just shows how hard work pays off,'' James said on Nov. 30 after the 44-41 double overtime victory over Indiana's arch rivals. "I’ve worked hard in the weight room, on the field, on my own. You have to be ready for your chance, and It definitely paid off.

“I've just been learning all I can. Stevie, he’s an amazing back, and he tells me everything, and since January he’s been helping me. I’ve just been practicing hard, doing what I was doing in the weight room, and when my opportunity came up, I took advantage.’’

James started Indiana's bowl game loss to Tennessee at the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, and had 25 yards on 11 carries. His longest carry went for only 6 yards.

Related Sampson James stories

  • JAMES AN EXAMPLE OF TURNAROUND: Freshman Sampson James has a breakout game, shows the future is bright. CLICK HERE
  • HOOSIERS RIDE JAMES PAST PURDUE: Freshman running back has his first 100-yard game in win over Boilermakers. CLICK HERE