Brandon James Wants to Go Out in Style

For a while last winter Brandon James contemplated ending his Gator career and taking his shot at the NFL. Florida's All-Time leader in kick return yardage quickly realized finishing his collegiate career was the right thing to do and he's ready to make it a year to remember.

It's hard to know how to categorize the speedster from St. Augustine. He's the Gators punt and kickoff return man, but he's also a running back and wide receiver. James says he likes that just fine. He says the changing assignments makes practices more interesting and the versatility should make him more valuable to an NFL team in the future.

I went one-on-one with Brandon James at Florida's annual media day.


LV: What are you now, a return man, running back or receiver?

BJ: "I'm not really settled in at one position. I keep going back and forth between receiver and running back. I'm just trying to get the offense down this year so you can see playing a little of both. It's just kind of 'athlete' right now."

LV: Do you like that?

BJ: "Of course. Just to be able to learn our whole playbook and see it from the running back and the receiver position helps me know what's going on. That's just going to help my entire game overall."

LV: Receiver is more new to you, tell me about learning that spot.

BJ: "(The biggest thing is) just learning what they do and how hard they work. At the running back position I feel like we did a lot of work that the other positions did not do, but for the receiver position they do a lot of running and learning where everyone is on the field because you never know where you might end up certain situations."

LV: One thing receivers do that running backs don't do is downfield blocking, right?

BJ: "(chuckling) Yeah, that's a big difference also. You have to go and block people when you are at full speed. It's sorta similar to picking up ‘backers and stuff at running back, but it's a little bit different."

LV: Is there something you like more about receiver than running back?

BJ: "Yeah. As a receiver you're already at the second level when you get the ball and if you make one guy miss you can get it into the end zone. As far as running back you have to get past the line and linebackers and then you're at the second level."

LV: Do you look at this experience of learning to play receiver as something that could really help you in the future?

BJ: "That's one of the things Coach Meyer and I talked about coming into this year was that being versatile can really increase your value. Me being able to move around a bit and doing a variety of things that they can see me do during the game should benefit me."

LV: Let's talk about kick returns. With all this work at running back and receiver are you gonna let one of these young bucks handle that this year?

BJ: "We have a lot of talent and a lot of guys could probably go back there and do it, but I'm not having it. I have one more year and then I'll be out of the way and they can fight over it then. I'm going to try and get me a kick. I've had three of them, but they've all been called back."

LV: If you could just get one thing this year would it be a kickoff return that counts?

BJ: "No I want to get one of each in the same game. I want to take the first kick of the season back and then get a punt later in the game."


James has the school record both for punt return (1,127) and kickoff return (1,962) yardage. Adding in his running (193) and receiving (164) he has 3,446 all purpose yards entering his senior season and joining the 5,000 yard club is not out of the question. There's only one non-quarterback in that club for the Gators. That guy is Errict Rhett who ran for 4,163 yards and caught passes for another 1,230).

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