Top-five running back has right perspective

Sometimes it's just about perspective. That seems to be a hard thing to come by for some of the more touted recruits in the country. But not for running back James McConico. He's got it, which means what he's looking for in a college may not be typical, which means he may not end up at a place you'd at first glance, expect.

James McConico is the number five rated running back in the country, according to And he's from California. For most who follow recruiting that means in their minds all McConico is waiting for is the offer from USC, and then he can call it a day.

Well, yeah, that's a big offer, but James lost track of his offers some time ago, and while USC is without a doubt a family-favorite, it's not a done deal if the Trojans come in with an offer. "It's always been about USC around here. My dad is a huge USC fan," McConico said. "But there's a lot more going into my decision than just who a program is or if I have followed them at all."

One of those things is definitely not typical, because it runs counter to the mind-set many of the top prospects around the country. It's just the notion that it won't happen to them, that they aren't susceptible like others.

They are invulnerable.

You almost think it's lip service when some recruits talk about getting their education, because you never know when that one unthinkable thing happens and their career is done. For McConico that's a big thing on his mind. "If I commit to a school and I get injured will they still keep their word? That's a big thing with me," he said. "I'm the kind of person that when I commit that's it, no going back and that's where I am going to go, no matter what. I'd like to see that from the school, too."

At 6-1 and close to 200 pounds McConico has better than ideal size. And running reportedly in the 4.4 to 4.5 range, he certainly has better than ideal speed. But he's got the power too, McConico over 19 yards per carry as a junior as he notched over 1,200 yards, scoring 14 touchdowns.

Basically, he's the complete package.

But don't tell that to him. Oh sure, he thinks about what he's done and how it compares, but he said that the best way to making it is to never assume that you have. "A lot of players out there get big-headed and fail. They start thinking too much about what they have done and not enough about what they still have to do," he said. "Sometimes my coaches and the players on the team have to pull me back a bit, but I try to stay grounded, because nobody is that good they don't have things they need to improve."

The offers could be pouring in right now, but don't ask James, because he said he doesn't know. Lately as the attention has increased, the calls have come and coaches are stopping by, he's deciding to take a step back and just let it happen. He's not worried about the offers, because for him it's too early to even think about. "Even if I had 150 offers right now I am not worrying about who it is, where they are at or anything. I'm thinking more about what we really emphasize here, and that's our own academics and athletics," McConico said.

The fact that James plays in Compton is something that he thinks puts a stereotype on players before anyone has ever had a chance to talk to them. They think that it's not that great of a neighborhood, so kids coming out of that system might be athletically gifted, but there are going to be other issues to think about.

McConico is quite proud of the fact that what people don't realize about him and players at his school is that they emphasize all aspects of being a student-athlete as much as anyone else. But most people just don't know. "We push academics and athletics here, and some people are surprised. I think most look at us as here in Compton as outcasts," he said. "I have thought about making it big, but I'm like a lot of guys around here. I just want to make it, but that doesn't mean football. I want my education more than anything else. To me that's making it."

While James isn't concentrating on recruiting he's aware of it, of course. It would be hard not to be when you are considered one of the top running backs in the country. So, he knows about some of his offers, and one of them is from Nebraska. It would be hard to blame a kid on the left coast for not knowing too much about Nebraska, especially when one of the elite programs in the country right now is just a manageable drive away. But McConico says he knows a little something about the big red. "I know they have a good program. It's basically what I know from watching TV," he said. "They were really good back in the day."

With the idea that he's not thinking about recruiting too much at this point, McConico did say that distance didn't mean a thing, weather wasn't an issue and he wasn't necessarily looking at the programs who have won national titles over the last five to 10 years. Again, it's not about that. It's a factor, but it's not THE factor on his mind. "I want a good education. I want to get my degree and then I will worry about the rest," he said. "Of course everyone wants to go to a place which fits them from the offense to the coaches. But I have lots of time to figure that out. When I look at them education comes first, and I will worry about all the other stuff later."

That obviously means you don't need to watch the daily wires wondering if he committed, because that's probably not for a long time to come. With no unofficial visits planned and no camps, McConico might just be one of those guys who everyone will have to wait on until his season or maybe after. That's fine with him, because he's not worried about time. There's plenty of it right now, and he's got bigger challenges ahead. "I'm just working on my game, my grades and getting ready for my final year. That's what I am thinking about right now," he said. "I had a good season last year, but I want to do better, because I know I can. If you think you can't do better you aren't being honest with yourself. You can always get better, and you have to try for that every day."

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