2011 Intro: Jarrod James

PIKEVILLE, N.C. --- Charles B. Aycock High School, and its star lineman Jarrod James, recently received a special visitor.

"The other day, Coach [Ken] Browning, my school's recruiter, called me and said Coach [Butch] Davis is making a swing around and he wants to swing by and speak to you," Aycock head football coach Randy Pinkowski said. "He came by, we walked around the school a little bit, and he just looked right at me and said ‘Coach I want you to know that Jarrod has a full scholarship to the University of North Carolina.'"

James, a 6-foot-4, 280-pounder, says it will be a day he will always remember.

"I was in class," James said. "Coach ‘Pink' came to get me out of class and he said ‘Jarrod you have a visitor here to see you. He's in one of the teacher's classrooms.' So we get there, Coach Davis is standing there and there's a big group of teachers around him and they're just wide-eyed and shocked. Coach Browning was there, too. But the teachers were like kids."

Besides UNC, James has collected scholarship offers from NC State and Stanford. More offers appear on the way.

"Wake Forest is all but committed to [offering] him," Pinkowski said. "They want to see him one day in camp, is what Jim Grobe said. I talked to [WFU assistant] Steed Lobotzke about [James]. Steed is an old offensive line coach and really loved him on film. He said if [James] looks as good on the hoof as he does on film, I can tell you right now we'll go ahead and offer him.

"Also, I asked Coach Steve Shankweiler at ECU when I took [James] to their camp ‘Where do I need to market this kid.' [Shankweiler] said ‘Coach, he's D1 all the way. I'd offer him right now, but I don't think I'll ever get him.'"

James is also receiving strong interest from Maryland and Virginia Tech.

"You're looking at a guy who's 6-5 [and] 280 [pounds] that's flexible, keeps a wide base," Pinkowski said. "He takes very short steps so that he never over strides and gets himself in the position where someone can beat him one side or the other. He moves laterally very well. He keeps a bend in his knees. And then when he gets up on those ‘backers, he's like a cheap shirt – you just can't get him off. And then the other thing is: he's quick for a guy his size. He's the biggest guy on our offensive line, but yet he's the first guy off the ball.

"But then when you pick up his transcript and the kid has a 4.25 [grade-point average], he already has a qualifying SAT score that's a no-brainer, you've got to scoop that kid up before someone else does.

"On top of that, from the character standpoint, he's one of those high character kids that can come in there and you're never going to have to worry about. He's going to be a team leader.

"And then on top of that, he works his tail off every day. He's trying to get better at being a football player. That means hitting the weight room, working techniques – hands, feet. He's just a real dedicated and driven kid."

In addition to the offer, Davis invited James to this weekend's Junior Day in Chapel Hill, which he accepted. He also hopes to visit Duke and NC State this spring.

"We'll see where things go," Pinkowski said. "He's been keeping it close to the vest as to what his feelings are. But I think, deep down inside he's got a leaning towards Carolina."

James' feelings towards UNC are slowly surfacing.

"I don't know [if UNC is my leader]," James said. "I have a bunch of Carolina posters at the house that I've always put up. If you want to call them the leader, they're the leader…

"I like [UNC] a lot. But at the same time I definitely respect everyone else. My parents always taught me: don't shut a door [and] keep all your options open – so that's what I'm doing."

James grew up following UNC.

"That's the hometown school," James said. "If you were to walk in my hallways right now and ask people who their favorite team is, they'd say Carolina. If you walked out into my community, they'd say Carolina. It's just one of those sections of the state where everyone is a Carolina fan. That's just what I've grown up around."

Additionally, James has a sister who is a UNC alum and he has made countless non-recruiting visits to the campus already.

"I've always been around Carolina," James said. "My sister was a Morehead Scholar there…It seemed like the entire time she was there, we were at Carolina every weekend. I grew up around Carolina."

James admits that he has thought about committing, but isn't actually sure when he'd pull the trigger.

"But my thing is: I want to be sure," James said. "I haven't taken any official visits or anything like that. Until that happens, I want to make sure I'm comfortable with campuses. I want to make sure that I feel I'm right for the environment. I don't want to commit to a team just because they're my favorite team."

With all that said, James isn't ruling out the possibility of verbally committing to UNC during Saturday's Junior Day.

"It could happen," James said of a possible verbal commitment. "Anything could happen."

The UNC offer has been in the works since last June when James attended UNC's camp.

"Sam Pittman, the offensive line coach, fell in love with him and has pushed this whole thing from his end," Pinkowski said. "And then when the season finally got over and Butch got a chance to sit down and watch Jarrod's tape, he was like ‘This is no mistake; we want this kid.'"

James also camped at Appalachian State, Duke, East Carolina, and NC State.

"I wanted to improve my game," James said. "People were just there because they wanted to get recruited and wanted to get the stardom, which is cool. But with me, I guess I was like that for a period of time, but after awhile just seeing how everyone else acted – how they were like rubbing up on the coaches and stuff – my focus was just to better my game."

James will attend a few camps this summer with a similar mentality.

"My focus this summer is for my team, because I've already been offered," James said. "Right now, I want to leave this school with a big dent in the wall. I'm playing both ways next year, so I might as well go and learn techniques at the camps."

James has played both ways on varsity since his sophomore season, but has only started on offense. This coming season, he'll also start on defense.

"I think people are going to be really surprised when they see him on the defensive side of the ball, because he's probably as good or better on that side of the ball where his speed, his quickness, and size will really be accentuated," Pinkowski said.

"I didn't want to play him [on defense] this [past] year, because I wanted to make sure we had him right as an offensive lineman and we were blessed with some good kids on the defensive line."

James will be playing defensive tackle in Aycock's 3-5 defense, which utilizes three- to five-man fronts.

"The thing that I like about Jarrod is if you're running this three-look front, you may get into the situation where your tackle is the edge player," Pinkowski said. "And in that situation, you've got to have a guy that's an athlete that can move. He's got to be a big strong kid that can stand in there and play like a true B-gap tackle and stop the run. But he's also got to be a guy that can work off the edge for you and get heat on the passer. He's custom made to do all that."

Offensively, James has started at left guard in Aycock's run-first pro style offense since moving up to varsity as a sophomore.

"We had a great tailback this [past] year and the combination of him and Jarrod was unmerciful in the run game," Pinkowski said. "When [James] takes up off the field, everything up the field moves and our tailback had a way of finding him and getting right behind him. [James] got such great push up front that we were constantly able to keep ourselves in second- and third-and-manageable."

Outside of football, James wrestles in the heavyweight division on Aycock's wrestling team. He has a 24-9 record this season.

Jarrod James Profile

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