Indiana Purdue Football

Indiana running back Sampson James (24) celebrates a touchdown against Purdue during the first half of an NCAA college football game in West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. 

Purdue running back Sampson James has entered the transfer portal, leaving West Lafayette without playing a game for the Boilermakers.

The four-star class of 2019 recruit out of Avon played two seasons at Indiana before transferring to Purdue near the beginning of fall camp in August 2021. That was past the deadline to play immediately with a new team and the 6-foot-1, 220-pound James was not able to garner an NCAA waiver that would have permitted him to get on the field for Purdue last season.

Instead, he practiced with the Boilermakers all season with an eye toward playing at Ross-Ade Stadium this fall. He went through spring practice with the Boilers, as well, though he did miss a couple of practices for what Purdue coaches described as "personal reasons." James capped his short Boilermakers tenure with nine carries for 36 yards in the team's spring game, including a 17-yard burst.

James was expected to compete for carries in Purdue's unproven running backs room this season. Without him, the Boilermakers will have to make do with King Doerue (533 yards, 3.9 per carry, two TDs last season), Dylan Downing (178 yards, 4.0 ypc, one TD) and Central Michigan transfer Kobe Lewis in the backfield. Lewis didn't play for the Chippewas last season while recovering from a knee injury, but he ran for more than 1,000 yards on 5.9 yards per carry with 12 touchdowns in 2019. Purdue can also use Iowa transfer wide receiver Tyrone Tracy out of the backfield, much like it did with Jackson Anthrop last season. The Boilermakers averaged just 2.8 yards per carry in 2021, ranking dead last in FBS.

It remains to be seen where James will end up, but it's possible he will once again be unable to play this season because he missed the May 1 deadline by which players must enter the transfer portal if they want to be automatically eligible at their new school. The former top recruit showed some promise at Indiana, running for 275 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman in 2019 and posting a 22-carry, 118-yard performance in a 44-41 win over Purdue that season when starting running back Stevie Scott III was injured. The Hoosiers could probably use more depth at the position, if James were inclined to remain in state and return to his original collegiate home.

College Sportswriter

Dylan Sinn is a College Sportswriter, covering mainly Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame, as well local colleges in northeast Indiana and Fort Wayne TinCaps baseball. He is a graduate of Indiana University and an AP Top 25 football voter.