"Around here, a lot of people are getting themselves into a lot of trouble," James said. "There isn't a whole lot to do. Around here, everyone plays sports to stay out of trouble. I've been doing it for as long as I can remember and I know that it's going to be my ticket out of here -- my ticket to success. I saw my cousin (Edgerrin) do it and now I gotta make it for myself."
Making it is something James is well on his way to doing. At 6-feet and 205 pounds, James is one of the state's premier prospects. His 1,500-yard performance as a junior helped prove that.
"I just feel like I'm a lot smarter than a lot of other running backs," he said. "Having a cousin who plays in the NFL, he's given me a lot of pointers. He's helped me with a lot of the little things that without him, I probably wouldn't know. Plus, I had to earn my yards. At the beginning of last season, we were starting four sophomores and one junior on the offensive line and four of them had never played a varsity game before. They really had to learn to play together as the season went along."
James recalls the season opener against a very talented Naples front seven that took place a few months before his team captured the state title against Madison County in December.
"Against Naples, I had nowhere to go," he said. "I'm not making excuses because I'm not into all that but man, they killed us up front. (Spencer Adkins) was really quick off the edge and just real tough for us to block. But those guys (O-Linemen) came together. Things were working against Madison County in the end."
James, who carries a 2.7 GPA and recently took the ACT for the first time, ran for more yards in that title game than Madison County had allowed the entire season.
James, who also runs track, is looking forward to a strong senior season. He's hoping to repeat what happened this past season.
"They say it's so hard to repeat," he said. "We're all working real hard to get it done. I've been training like crazy. I can't rest on what I've done. I ran for 1,500 and won a state title. Well, that means I'm shooting for 2,000 and a state title next year."
One of the reasons why James is one of the state's top players is because that attitude really makes an impact. He was asked about the recruiting process and touched on that some.
"I wanna go where I can compete," he said. "Competition makes you a better player. Good players don't run away from the competition. I dont care about people promosing me a chance to play as a freshman. It aint about all that. It's about someone giving me a fair chance just like they're giving everyone else. If that happens, I like what I got."
The talented running back favors the hometown Hurricanes but he's giving strong consideration to a few other programs as well.
"UM's up there but I also like USC, Oklahoma, and Florida," he said. "UM is right up the road. I went to a few games last season. EJ went there and everything and I think it's just a real good situation for me."
James talked about some examples of why you can't view competition as a negative.
"EJ was telling me that you don't think about stuff like that when you're lifting, when you're running, and when you're training," he said. "He always told me that if I get a chance to go and compete against the best then I better take advantage of it because that's what makes people better players. Clinton Portis used to tell Willis McGahee that it was his job. If Willis wanted it, he had to earn it. After competing with Portis for two years, look what happened when they gave him the spotlight. I've been around UM a lot and I know what it's like. I could see myself being very successful in that type of environment."
James said he had firm scholarship offers from all four of his favorites and then come.
"They've all sent offers and they keep in touch by writing letters and things like that," he said. "I plan on hitting up camps at Florida State, Florida, Miami, the MSL Combine, and the NIKE Camp. I dont get into all that hype about who's the best but I know there are guys like CJ (Spiller) and Lesean (McCoy) who are getting a lot of the talk. Maybe they are the best. We'll see. I hope they're at some of the same camps I'm at this summer."
James is one of three players at Immokalee who will be recruited heavily. Defensive end John Paul and defensive back Renold Louis are two others who will be featured on this site real soon.
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