The 49ers used the 61st pick of the NFL Draft on Friday to add Oregon’s LaMichael James to their crowded backfield. It was a big day (as evidenced by the logjam of messages on his phone) for James, and there to share the moment with him was none other than Willie Lyles, the very man at the center of the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into alleged recruiting violations by the Ducks football program.
Lyles has been a confidant to James even before he and the Ducks came into the NCAA’s crosshairs. Lyles accompanied LMJ to a college football awards show in 2010, calling himself a trainer and adviser. And on Friday, a story by The Register-Guard in Eugene about James being drafted used a photo showing the two together at LaMike’s draft party.
This shouldn’t be surprising to close followers of Oregon football. James has always said positive things about his relationship with Lyles, even while the media and Ducks fans were hammering the so-called “street agent.” “Him and me are really close,” the running back said last year. “I talk to him all the time. He has never steered me wrong or given me bad advice.” That tone didn’t change when James addressed fans who wondered about Lyles being at the party:
I want to give a s/o to everyone wondering if I’m cool with will lyle yes I”am he’s always been there for me when I needed him #loyalty
— LaMichael James (@LaMichaelJames) April 28, 2012
Somewhere Chip Kelly is cringing.
Photo credit: Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE