James Continues Maryvale's Tradition At ASU

From ex-Sun Devil greats Darren Woodson and Phillippi Sparks to current ASU players Daryl Lightfoot and Josh Kirkwood, Maryvale high school has been a steady supplier of quality players to ASU. If his stellar high school career is any indication, safety Robert James could be part of that west Phoenix high school legacy in Tempe.

James who was a standout corner, and rated the No. 8 corner in the West by PacWestFootball, recalls the beginning of the recruiting journey with ASU. "The first coach I talked to was coach Nordquist, when he was recruiting Daryl Lightfoot in my junior year. I wasn't thinking much about college then. He asked who I was and if I was any good (smile). Daryl told him I was good, and that he should see some film on me. After he did, he told me to call him. Then I became excited about going to college and ASU… I started talking a lot with coach English too. I was just happy that ASU was talking to me." While the member of the Phoenix Metro Magazine Super All-State 2001 Team didn't take several recruiting trips, his only other trip aside from ASU, let alone to an unlikely school, made him think hard about his decision. "Idaho St., NAU, Oregon, Colorado all called. I did take a visit to Idaho St. I didn't want to take any other trips. It was hard enough to pick from two schools, so I didn't want to visit a third school (Case in point, James made his verbal commitment to ASU last summer)…It was a nice trip to Idaho St. I liked the players and the coaching staff. Everything was the same on both trips, and it was a tough decision to make. My dad told me I'm a fool if I don't go to ASU (smile). I just wanted a chance to play in a big time conference like the Pac-10."

The incoming ASU freshman is a versatile player to say the least. He rushed 115 times for 1,129 yards and 16 touchdowns, and as a defensive back he recorded 32 solo tackles, 10 assists, two interceptions, three quarterback sacks and nine tackles for losses. His hard-hitting play on the field was more typical of a linebacker rather than a defensive back. His high school coach Tom Bruney is full of praise when talking about his former star player: "Robert is a strong athlete who benches 350 lbs. He's a very hard hitter, and he's great in pursuing players. Besides being fast, he's very quick too. He runs a 4.4, and has a great ability to change directions." When we asked the former Maryvale standout for his own skills assessment he said: "I'm a fast player, but also a responsible player. I have good reads on defense… I like to hit a lot. I'm better in the run defense than the pass defense. But don't test me throwing at me, I'm still gonna ball (smile)."

One of the factors that possibly attracted him the most to ASU was the defensive scheme. Not only does his position have a greater chance to play in the Devils' 4-2-5 defensive format, but it's also the exact alignment that James played at Maryvale. Would he like to use his multitalented skills elsewhere on the field? "I'm just happy to play safety, and not running back. But I would love to play on special teams. I'd like to be on the punt and kickoff teams, because I like to run down field and hit people. I know nobody can hold me when I'm getting after the punter. I think I'll have better stats doing that, than being on the punt return team."

High school accomplishments don't always necessarily transcend into a successful college career. Thanks to James' good friend Daryl Lightfoot, the former Maryvale player fully understands what lies ahead: "Daryl told me that ASU is no joke, and it's nothing like high school. The big difference is that in high school you may have 2-3 really big games. In college, every game is big. You make a play and you get to hear your name on the loud speakers (smile). Everything you do is emphasized a lot more than high school. That makes me wanna go to ASU that much more. I'm not afraid of the big time college ball. I'm looking forward to it." Whether he plays as a true freshman is still unknown to him at this point. "I'm ready to play right away. But if I redshirt, I'll be positive about it, and take it as a learning experience. The following year I'll be ready to play. The coaches told me that I'll have a chance to compete and play this year, but I know I have to work hard in practice and show them that I'm ready."

In the last few years, ASU has done a commendable job keeping the local Phoenix high school talent close to home and wearing the maroon and gold. The signing of Robert James is another pleasant example of this positive trend. If the safety carries on the illustrious legacy of his fellow Maryvale graduates, another representative of this high school could make a noticeable impact on ASU's Football team.


Robert James

High School

Maryvale, HS, Phoenix, AZ


DB (Also Played RB and as a Return Specialist)





Date of Birth



Phoenix, AZ



Favorite TV Show

Jamie Fox

Favorite Movie


Favorite Singer

R. Kelly

Favorite Food


Favorite Drink


Favorite Athlete

Mike Bibby

Favorite Pro Team

St. Louis Rams

Person you most admire

My father. He didn't go to college, and manages to do very well for himself and his family. So, if I go to college I can do as well as he did, if not more. I'd be happy if I did as well as he did.

First Football Memory

I was 7 or 8 in my first year at Pop Warner, I played with Randy Hill. I wasn't that good, and in the last game of the season, my coach told me that he wanted me to run as fast as I can, and hit the defender as hard as I can. I hit the defender on the on the five-yard line into a big puddle of water. That's when I started liking Football (smile).

One Thing most people don't know about me

I plan to go to the NFL in 2006. Many people don't know or don't believe that about me.

Why did you choose ASU?

I know a lot of players on the team, and I feel comfortable playing with guys I know.

Where do you want to be in ten years?

If the NFL doesn't work out, I'd like to work in Real Estate.

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