For Isaac James, committing to and eventually signing with the right school was not a matter of if, but when.
So it made sense that he signed Wednesday with Indiana, the school that had recruited him since his sophomore year at Carmel (Ind.) High School.
“I never felt like it wasn’t the place for me,” James said. “I just had to confirm that, out of the schools I had an opportunity to visit, this is the one I should go to. During the whole process, I always knew that I really liked IU.”
That’s not all, either. According to a September 2013 story from FOXSportsNEXT.com’s Anna Hickey, he had been in contact with coaches from Cincinnati, Kentucky, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue and Virginia Tech with Cincinnati, Iowa and Virginia Tech expressing heavy interest.
But Indiana contacted him before those other schools and began to develop a relationship with him right away. James said Indiana was the first school to offer him.
“I built up a relationship with the coaches over a longer period of time,” he said. “Those are the coaches I’ve known longer than any other coaches. So just having the history we’ve had, and to be able to know them for so long, and being able to visit so many times, that kind of did it for me.”
“It is pretty neat,” James said. “It was definitely a huge opportunity to go and talk to those guys and ask them how their experience went, because out of anybody there I knew they would be straight up with me and tell me how their experience is or what they feel when they’re there or why this is the place for them.
“It kind of let me see into the future a little bit because from Carmel, a lot of guys have the same athletic look or competitiveness. Just knowing they were comfortable there kind of confirmed to me that if they could do it, I could do it too.”
Reuniting with his former teammates won’t be the only sense of familiarity James feels when he joins the team in the fall.
Indiana’s offense is very up-tempo and predicated on speed. At Carmel High School, he played in a similar style of offense.
“We (Carmel) do a lot of things similar to what IU does,” James said. “Motioning the receiver, doing jet sweeps, quick screens. They do a lot of that. And then past that, we do the fast tempo so we don’t do huddles. So in that way, IU and Carmel are a lot alike.”
James did a little bit of everything for the Greyhounds, playing at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and defensive back. He also played basketball and ran track and field.
The ability to play multiple positions and sports isn’t too surprising. Scout.com rated him as one of the top 10 fastest recruits in the class of 2015.
“Really (playing multiple sports) just helped me in different aspects of athleticism,” James said. “In track, I focus on running form and technique. And then in football I focus on strength, and basketball obviously explosiveness and quickness and agility. I feel like an accumulation of all those things had a good turnout on the football field.”
Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson recruited James as an offensive player. James is expected to play wide receiver and possibly return kickoffs and punts. He doesn’t quite know what his role will be yet, but already has goals for when he arrives on campus.
“We’ve talked about it,” James said. “Special teams definitely isn’t out of the question. However, my goals are to be on the first team once the season starts and really just be a contributor that other teams have to scheme against to effectively defend us. I just hope to be a threat on our offense.”
Regardless of what his role will be, he’s looking forward being in Bloomington with his new teammates.
“(I’m looking forward to) just getting onto campus and getting acclimated to my teammates, coaches, campus and college life,” James said. “Just being able to take it one day at a time and learn and get to make the most of the opportunities in front of me.”