Sampson James makes a quick pivot north to West Lafayette

It didn’t take long for now officially former IU running back Sampson James to find a new home.

And it will immediately become a simultaneously very unpopular and popular decision.

James will not only stay in the Big Ten, he will stay in-state.  On Friday the Avon, Ind. product announced he was transferring to play for IU rival Purdue.

“Let’s Work,” James said in a Twitter post announcing the transfer that now seems pre-arranged given the quick turn from the Wednesday news he was leaving IU.

“Excited to become part of something special in West Lafayette,” he added in a graphic attached to his post that seemed to show James in his IU uniform.

Because of the new NCAA rule that allows players to transfer one time without having to sit out a year, James will be immediately eligible at Purdue and thus will face his former teammates on Nov. 24 in West Lafayette.  Interestingly enough, it was there at Purdue in 2019 where James had his best game as a Hoosier, amassing 118 yards on 22 carries.

James was once the top-rated IU recruit in the rankings era, but beyond that game at Purdue, he contributed just 91 carries for 253 yards (2.78 ypc) during his two seasons at IU.  He was never able to supplant Stevie Scott for the starting job, and had likely fallen behind USC transfer Stephen Carr and perhaps others on IU’s 2021 depth chart.

Originally a Ohio State verbal commit, James signed with IU in 2018.  He also put his name in the transfer portal in March of 2020 before deciding to stay in Bloomington.

IU coach Tom Allen said on Thursday James’ latest decision to transfer came as a surprise.

“It definitely wasn’t something that we expected,” Allen said.  “But at the same time it’s a room with a lot of depth and a lot of guys in there who are hungry to get their opportunity.”

Along with Carr, sophomore Tim Baldwin and junior David Ellis are expected to be the top three backs.  Indiana also has two freshmen — David Holloman and Trent Howland who could contribute, along with a pair of walk-ons who are competing for both playing time and scholarships in Charlie Spegal and Davion Ervin-Poindexter.

James is the second Indiana player to transfer to Purdue in the last four months.  Defensive lineman Damarjhe Lewis also made the move to Purdue soon after the conclusion of spring practice.


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