Oregon RB Freeman to skip bowl game

Dec 15, 2017 - 4:01 AM Oregon senior running back Royce Freeman won't play in the Ducks' bowl game in order to focus on the NFL Draft, coach Mario Cristobal announced Thursday.

Freeman holds multiple school records, including career rushing yards (5,621), all-purpose yards (6,435), total touchdowns (64) and rushing touchdowns (60).

"Am I disappointed in him? No," Cristobal said. "Do I want to see him play? Absolutely. But I stand by him."

Oregon (7-5) will play Boise State (10-3 in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday.

NFLDraftScout.com rates Freeman as the third-best senior running back prospect, behind a pair of Georgia Bulldogs -- Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. But with most of the top running backs being underclassmen, Freeman is projected more as a middle-round pick, listed as No. 139 overall by NFLDraftScout.com.

"He's done a lot in four years, had a lot of carries," Oregon running backs coach Donte Pimpleton said on goducks.com. "One game I don't think is going to make or break anything. I want to see him shine at the next level, and be healthy enough to do so."

Freeman rushed for 1,475 yards and 16 touchdowns this season after an injury-plagued junior season. His career rushing yardage is the second-most in Pac-12 history behind former USC back Charles White (6,245).

Oregon has good depth at running back for the bowl game, including Kani Benoit (573 yards, 7.2 per carry), Tony Brooks-James (465 yards) and freshman Darrian Felix.

Earlier Thursday, West Virginia senior running back Justin Crawford announced he would skip the team's Heart of Dallas Bowl game against Utah.

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