Indiana running back Sampson James has entered the transfer portal, according to multiple reports.
The junior from Avon has played 16 games (two starts) over two seasons at Indiana and was expected to compete for the lead running back slot in 2021. During his career in Bloomington, James ran for 371 yards (3.3 per carry) and three touchdowns, including a 118-yard performance that included a touchdown in a 44-41 win over Purdue in 2019. Most of James' production came in 2019 as he struggled behind the mostly-ineffectual Indiana offensive line in 2020, picking up only 3.0 yards per carry without a touchdown. In fairness to James, it was difficult to pick up yards for most Indiana running backs last season: Stevie Scott III gained only 3.6 yards per carry.
James entered the transfer portal over the winter and then pulled his name out and returned to the Hoosiers a day later, so it's possible he could still end up with Indiana this season. It's more likely, however, that this departure is more permanent; late in the summer, Indiana brought former five-star running back Stephen Carr, a USC transfer, into the program and it's possible that, after a week of working at camp with Carr and talented sophomore Tim Baldwin (6.4 yards per carry as a freshman in 2020), James felt like he would get squeezed out of carries again this season.
The bruising 6-foot-1, 220-pound back is the second-highest rated recruit to sign with Indiana since the recruiting rankings era began in 2000. He was the No. 10 running back in the country in the 2019 class and de-committed from Ohio State to play for the Hoosiers, an early recruiting coup for Indiana coach Tom Allen and then-Hoosiers running backs coach Mike Hart. The Hoosiers recently added four-star running back Gi'Bran Payne to their 2022 recruiting class under RBs coach Deland McCullough.