"His grades are the biggest concern," Hutchens said. "His core GPA is very low and he hasn't taken the SAT yet. Clemson has said if he is good enough, they will take him after a year of prep school."
But there is still time to get his grades where they need to be. Houston said he plans to take the SAT in the near future and is ready to see what work needs to be done in that department.
"I'm taking it soon," he said. "I'm ready to get it out of the way."
Houston, a 6-2, 190-pound junior from Starmount High (Boonville, NC), tied a state record with 16 interceptions in 14 games. He also ran three of those interceptions back for touchdowns, and deflected eight more passes. Those numbers earned Houston AP all-state honors at defensive back, while he was an all-conference selection at quarterback and defensive back.
Houston was in Chapel Hill on Saturday for UNC's Junior Day.
"They [UNC] just took some pictures. That was my first time [in Chapel Hill]. I liked it; I got to see the campus. I was able to meet some of the coaches."
At this juncture, Houston doesn't have a favorite school.
"It's too early to tell," said Houston, who has UNC on a long list of schools. "They are on the list."
The talented three-sport athlete finished his junior season with 944 yards passing and completed 52 of 112 attempts -- including 11 touchdown passes. Houston also used his legs to provide the Rams with another offensive weapon. In 14 games, he amassed 1,367 yards rushing (97.6 yards per game, 10.6 per rush average) and 12 touchdown runs.
Houston also plays basketball and is a pitcher for the Starmount baseball team.
"I would like to play basketball in college, but I don't know because football is my better sport," Houston said. "If I had to choose it would be football."
Hutchens said the key to Houston's game is flat-out athleticism.
"We put him at QB as a sophomore and he had a good year. When he came to us, he was six foot, 145 pounds, and he got injured as a freshman. He broke a wrist, then he came up from the JV team for the playoffs and he broke his ankle. He came back from both injuries and has worked hard. Now he is 6-2, 190 pounds."
Houston said he likes being in charge on the field and that is why he loves playing quarterback, which is where he would like to play at the next level.
However, it's likely he will be projected as a defensive player by many schools.
"I like making interceptions," Houston said. "I like to hit but most of our linebackers get to them first."
One advantage for Houston is his size. At 6-2, 190 pounds, he can go up and make key plays on defense. He is also fast (4.4 second forty) and has stuck to a strong weightlifting program.
Starmount, which is known in North Carolina for being a Wing-T offense, has moved away from its traditional offense and now runs more trap, trap-option and midline plays.
And with Houston, the Rams can also throw the ball.
"He sees the field well and can throw it," Hutchens said. "We probably should have thrown it more [last year]. We made the change from the Wing-T because it seemed like the best thing to do, and it's a good fit for James."
The bottom line with Houston is that the kid can make plays.
"His game is that he is just such an athlete," Hutchens said. "We put him on a team's best receiver, they throw it and he goes up and gets it. If he touches it he is going to get it. If he gets a step he can get by. Sometimes it doesn't look like he is flying, but I've never seen anyone catch him."