Running back Chris James announced that he was transferring out of the program back in December. It was announced recently that his formal transfer had officially gone through and he is headed to Wisconsin to join former Pitt coach Paul Chryst.
The decision to go to Wisconsin wasn't terribly surprising. It had been rumored for some time and while here, he was clearly a favorite of Chryst, who anointed him the backup to James Conner in the coach's final season. James' playing time took a hit last season when he not only wasn't the starter after Conner's injury in the season opener, he eventually lost the backup job and was behind both starter and ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year Qadree Ollison, as well as true freshman Darrin Hall.
Despite the loss of Conner, James saw his workload decrease last year with only 56 carries. Part of the problem were his own injury issues that plagued him in the beginning of the season and after Ollison's quick start, that sort of sealed his fate. He had only one in the team's final three games, so the handwriting was on the wall regarding a transfer since the two guys ahead of him were both freshmen and would be around for some time.
James is leaving a place where future carries would have been scarce, but ironically, he will have to compete quite a bit for playing time with younger backs, according to Bucky's 5th Quarter, SB Nation's Wisconsin site.
After he sits out 2016, James will be in line for starters reps from day one. That said, with impressive springs from both Bradrick Shaw and Taiwan Deal, the Badgers are set to have an intriguing competition for carries next season.
Sitting out this year will surely benefit him. Deal was the team's second leading rusher this past season and the team returns their No. 1 and No. 3 backs, Dare Ogunbowale and Corey Clement as well. Ogunbowale and Clement will be seniors this season, so some space does open up a bit for 2017. However, Deal will still be there as a junior, as well as Shaw, a four-star recruit in the class of 2015 that had an Alabama offer and redshirted last year.
The good news for James is that Wisconsin has always relied on several backs so even if he doesn't start, he will likely get more time on the field than he would have at Pitt going forward.