California RB setting up official to NU

You'll hear names like DeMarco Murray and LeSean McCoy as just a couple of the many outstanding running backs around the country. What you won't hear most of these players say is that when it comes to depth charts at the next level, they don't even care. Well, talk to Cordova high school's James Montgomery and he'll take a glance, but he knows what's up, because if you want to get anywhere, you have to earn it.

I can't tell you how many five-star backs I have talked to that actually care more about the depth charts of colleges than they do almost anything else. Here they sit, forty offers or more and they are worried about getting on the field.

Not James Montgomery, because this resident of Rancho Cordova, California knows that the better that depth chart is, the better that it might make him in the future. "You need competition to get better," he said. "If you are going into a place that has some solid running backs, you have to be at your best if you want to get on the field."

"I'd rather have that than someone telling me that the starting position is mine, because I'll take the pressure of earning the job rather than the pressure of having to take the job the second I get there."

There's no doubt a few schools telling Montgomery that he's the best, he's their number one guy and that he can get on the field right away. But, if you think that is the way to the heart of the 5 foot, 10 inch, 195 pound back, you have another thing coming.

He's got different ideas on his mind as to just what he's looking for in a school first.

"Academics always comes first," James said. "I want to make sure that the place I go to has one of three majors I am looking at; sports marketing, sports medicine or teaching. It's important that I get my education, so I am thinking of that first and everything else after that."

James might not think about a school that has absolutely no running backs as attractive, but there's plenty of schools that have backs that are looking plenty at him. The Pac-Ten is well represented on his list of offers, Washington, Washington State, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and UCLA all trying to get James to go to their school.

Add to that Northwestern, Ole Miss and Nebraska.

You probably shouldn't be surprised at the glut of offers James has received, Montgomery averaging almost nine yards per carry en route to almost cracking the 2,000 yard mark, but scoring a whopping 35 touchdowns along the way.

This year, he wants his average over 10.

Heck, there's no reason why Montgomery should shy away from competition, but if that's the case, why are so many other backs, that have all these offers so consumed with their opportunity to play? "Man, I don't know what they're thinking, because any level you play, there's always going to be someone coming after you or is there already, so you just have to be ready to play," James said.

"If you go pro and a Ronnie Brown comes along, they are going to take him to and all teams have already got two good backs and no one guy can take 40 carries a game, so having quality guys there and coming in is a good thing."

Another thing that high school athletes seem to be preoccupied with, especially from the warm coastal states, it's the weather. They want sunshine, eighty degrees and beaches all around. James couldn't care less. "If you want to play football beyond college, you are going to have to play in the cold sooner or later," he said. "No sense avoiding it now. Just go and deal with it."

I suppose at this time, you are sensing a theme or perhaps a couple with the California standout. I'd summarize them as being both firmly based in reality and the definite love of the game. Football isn't played under the sun, it's played on a football field and weather and depth chart be damned, James isn't thinking about anything other than what he has to do to play.

Back to the depth chart, yes, James doesn't care who's there, but he will acknowledge that he's definitely looking at how many and how young. "If a team has three sophomores and I am coming in as a freshman, you have to look at something like that," he said. "But, if it's like a freshman and a junior or something, you've got to go get it."

Ok, so some of you are off scurrying to the depth charts of your favorite team, especially if they reside on the list of those having offered Montgomery thus far, well, sit back and relax, because as James said, this process of recruiting isn't going to find an end anytime soon.

Like any recruit that will actually admit it, James is enjoying himself right now. His 15 minutes that lasts possibly ten months, it's good to be one of the top running backs on the west coast.

It's not arrogance mind you, rather it's James enjoying what it's like to be able to pick where your future is going to be. The only question is where.

Usually, the first indicator as to favorites, even if they are marginal ones is through official visits, and it just so happens that James is working on scheduling his first official visit right now, that to take place possibly during the second week of college football's regular season and to the University of Nebraska.

"I know that I am supposed to call him here in the next couple of nights, because we talked about setting up an official for the Wake Forest game," James said. "I know I want to get down there, because their running back tradition is just crazy."

"I mean, you can't really even put it into words, because I used to watch them when they had Tommie Frazier, Lawrence Phillips and, man, that was the big red, that was option football at its best."

The option has since left the land of the Huskers, replaced by this new-fangled thing called the "West Coast" offense. And, with that change, came the slight change in what they were looking for in a running back. In their first full year of recruiting, though, they got the running back they wanted.

Marlon Lucky

That name has already scared off a few would-be interested backs to the Huskers, Lucky the second ranked back in the country his senior season. But, for James, well, you remember what he said and Lucky isn't a potential obstacle, he's an opportunity to get better. "Like I said, competition makes you better," he said. "The better the competition is, the better you have to be if you want to get some time on the field."

"A guy like that will push you to be your best."

Montgomery did say of Lucky going to Nebraska, that he was pretty surprised. Like most of the rest of the world outside of those other teams recruiting the All-American, everything thought that he would be going to the home of another big red.

"Yeah, I thought it was USC all the way," James said. "California back, USC being the program they are, I just figured that's where he would end up."

Well, if that's the case, the question begs to be asked of THIS California back if USC were to come and offer him. Would he be a lock for the Trojans?

"No, because USC is a great program, but it's not like I would get an offer from them and everyone else just wouldn't matter," James said. "I mean, I'm just really open right now and there's lot of opportunities out there for me."

There is a lot, probably becoming a lot more in the near and distant future. That's more opportunities and the best thing for Montgomery, more choices he has for the recruiting road ahead.

He'll be thinking about a lot of things along the way when figuring out just where he wants to be, but you can bet that it's not who he'll have to compete with for a spot that will matter to him.

It will be who he's planning to beat.

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