James Trains His Way Into Starter And Recruit

Heading into his sophomore season, Matt James knew he could be a starter at St. Xavier High, one of the most prestigious and talent-rich high school programs in the state of Ohio.

"But I remember a lot of other people were thinking I wouldn't be able to," Matt James said.

"It kind of drove me. I remember last year, people saying you can't really compete on that level. My freshman year, I didn't do that well, but I worked hard in the off-season to get better."

The 6-foot-7, 270-pound James improved tremendously. Part of his regiment was running the steps at nearby Nippert Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bearcats, and the same place his father used to play college ball.

Last fall, James indeed earned the starting nod at right tackle, and helped St. Xavier go 15-0 and win a state championship.

But not only did James achieve his goal of earning a first-string position, he transformed himself into a major college recruit.

"Cincinnati offered the week after we won the state title," James said. "I remember there was a bunch of recruiters there at the game, but I was really surprised. I didn't think it was real or anything. It took about two or three weeks for me to realize I had an offer to a college.

"Then the Tennessee one was second. That was at the end of school, and the Illinois one was a couple weeks later."

Besides those three programs that have offered, James is also hearing from a plethora of other colleges including Notre Dame, Ohio State, UCLA, Virginia and Wisconsin.

"They stopped by the school twice during the school year," James said of Notre Dame.

"The academics are pretty good up there." James has a 3.5 GPA. "I haven't gotten a chance to look at the campus or anything. I was going to go up to their camp, but some stuff got in the way. But I'm looking forward to getting up there sometime and seeing it. I hear it's a great campus, but one of the main reasons why I like them is great academics."

Another reason James likes Notre Dame, is two streets over in his neighborhood, there is a family very loyal to the Irish program.

"Kyle Rudolph is going there. We went to the same grade school, and his brother is in my grade. He went to Elder so I haven't talked to him in awhile.

"I see his family. My family is pretty good friends with them. In grade school, his dad and my dad were commissioners of the grade school football league, so they ran the program together."

Perhaps James and Rudolph will eventually go to college together.

James has plenty of family members that have played college football. His father's cousins have suited up at Ohio State, Tennessee and Cincinnati, and he has a great uncle that played at Notre Dame. Looks like James will add to the tradition.

"I think I'm pretty well rounded on the offensive line. I think I'm pretty good run blocking and pass blocking. I think I'm pretty athletic for an offensive lineman. It helps me."

Other than filling out questionnaires, James hasn't done a whole lot yet concerning his recruitment. He has visited Tennessee, Ohio State, and obviously Cincinnati. He hopes to take a few visits this fall, and a bunch next summer to familiarize himself with different schools.

One thing James doesn't have to worry about is starting. However, he will move to left tackle this fall. Nobody is doubting that it will be a smooth transition.

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