There were a number of positives to take away from the University of Louisville's spring game on Friday night at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
The first team offense was efficient, with both Reggie Bonnafon and Kyle Bolin behind center, and the defense was, as head coach Bobby Petrino described afterward, “dominating.” With attendance over 20,000 (second highest in the ACC), including a host of former Cardinal standouts, the event was very much a success.
That success resonated with the more than 70 recruits that were visiting the Cardinals program for the Red-White scrimmage. While most of the recruits in attendance are in the 2016 class, it also included former Katy (Tex.) Cinco Ranch running back Jamel James, a Scout.com three-star prospect in the 2013 class, who is joining the group of incoming Cardinal walk-ons.
”I will be walking on at Louisville and trying to earn a scholarship for the spring semester,” he explained. “I will be walking on this semester.”
While his time in the Derby City was short, the experience has him excited to return.
“I loved it,” he told Cardinal Authority during his drive home on Saturday morning. “I watched how they ran the ball. I loved all of the excitement and how packed the stadium was for a spring game. It was amazing.
“Those guys can really run the ball. I saw a lot things that I see in myself also from those guys last night. I feel like I have the passion to join those guys so that I can help contribute to the team, as well.”
His journey to this point has been unique.
“That's kind of a long story,” he said, with a laugh.
While lengthy and unique, his initial hope and his new opportunity both point to the same individuals.
“Back in high school, I was recruited by and committed to Arkansas when Coach Petrino, Coach K and Coach McGee were there and we just kept in contact,” he explained. “We just kept in contact and then some things didn't work out for me at the school I was at, and this opportunity came up. Things worked so perfect.
“I ended up committing to Notre Dame after Petrino left Arkansas, but didn't really get the same vibe that I felt at Arkansas when I went up there to visit, so I ended up de-commiting. I almost committed to Florida State, but decided to sign with a team in my home area at Texas State. I didn't want to be that far from my mom and my brother, who just had a baby, so I wanted to be around my family more at that time.”
Following his initial practice as a true freshman at Texas State, James headed to a junior college and has been out of the game since that time. He hasn't suited up and hit an opponent since rushing for more than 1,000 yards as a high school senior.
“A real game, it would probably be my senior year,” he said. “A real practice, would be at Texas State, which was in 2013.”
James will return to Louisville on June 1 for summer school and is energized to get back on the field.
“It's a great feeling honestly, because I haven't been on the field in a long time,” he said. “With everything that I've been through, to have this opportunity is really a blessing. I'm really happy to be going there and feel I'll do great there.”