"At the same time, I'm grateful to be put in the position that I'm in."
James, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound offensive lineman from Pikeville (N.C.) Aycock, verbally committed to UNC in late March. At the time, it was a difficult decision between two in-state rivals – UNC and NC State.
"It came down to where I would want to be if I wasn't playing football," James said. "I went to programs like Project Uplift. I took tours around the campus by myself – there were times when I went up there and didn't tell anybody who I was and I just walked around to see how people treated me and it was a great experience."
Despite all the off-the-field problems UNC sustained, James never once considered visiting other schools.
"A bird in a hand is worth two in the bush," James said. "I had a place where I wanted to go. Plus, when all that stuff happened, I knew that the integrity of the school wouldn't be lost. I just chilled and waited out the storm."
James, who has played left tackle throughout his prep career, is being recruited as an offensive guard.
James says the communication with the UNC coaching staff has been "great."
"Every time I talk to them I feel like I have another question to ask whether it's about student life or athletic life – like what type of workouts are we going to do [and] game plans," James said. "I've always kept an open line of communication. I'm going to be working with these coaches for the next four or five years, so I want to know as much about them personally and from a business standpoint."
Ken Browning is the Tar Heel assistant coach James is in most frequent contact with.
James, who has been cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse, is now focused on his wrestling season.