James, 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds, is back for his senior season and is being counted on as being one of the leaders on the 2012 team.
"Mike is one of the best workers on the team, a jack of all trades," said running backs coach Terry Richardson. "He does a lot of things well. He'll be an excellent role model. He's very unselfish."
James and his leadership abilities have reached a new level and he's even helping the younger players at his position become better, which will help push him to improve his game.
"When other tailbacks would ask him a question, he would tell them and give them his all to help him. It's players coaching players," Richardson said.
James has had a solid career, production wise, until now and the coaches are hoping he elevates his game to another level this fall.
"Mike's feet are quicker," his coach said. "I think he's faster. He has a better understanding of what we're doing from an offensive scheme. His mentality of the whole scheme, I just see the hunger in him that maybe wasn't there in the past."
As one of the hardest workers on the team, James has some high expectations on him -- both on the field and off.
"Mike wants to be the guy," Richardson said. "He puts in the work on and off the field and in the weightroom and in meetings and when he gets on the field. He's practicing hard, working hard, showing his toughness. In short yardage situations and goal line situations, the way he runs the football in general, I have nothing but positive things to say about him."
Miami could really use a strong season from James, both production-wise and from a leadership standpoint.