Ohio State was a trending topic in Piscataway during last year’s game week, but it also became one in Glassboro after a scholarship offer issued from coach Urban Meyer.
The younger James passed on the offer and honored his Rutgers commitment on National Signing Day. One year later and after significant attrition in the defensive secondary, James could see the field against the Buckeyes at cornerback.
“I see it just as a game against any other college,” James said. “Yeah, they offered me but I also had a lot of other scholarship [offers] as well. But Rutgers was always the best fit for me. It feels much better to play here.”
Why did James stay with Rutgers?
A chance to play one season with older brother Paul James helped, but Ronnie James credited the coaching staff in recruiting.
“It was a real family-oriented place,” James said. “I felt like I was at home when I was at Rutgers. Besides that, I enjoyed all of the coaches. I feel like I could talk to them about anything.”
The significance for James does not come in Rutgers’ Saturday opponent, but instead, comes in his projected defensive role. Rutgers could be without starter Blessuan Austin (questionable), which propels James to the third or fourth cornerback slot in the rotation.
“It’s going pretty good,” James said on this week’s practices. “We’re taking our time day by day, learning new things, but overall it’s coming together. Me and my teammate Jarius [Adams], he’s going to be getting a lot of playing time too. He’s learning the most right now, as much as he can. Every day in practice, we’re getting better with it all.”
James debuted in the season opener against Norfolk State, which marked the first organized game of his life alongside brother Paul James.
“That’s an experience I’ve waited for my whole life, to play on the same field as my brother,” Ronnie James said. “To have it happen at Rutgers is an amazing feeling. I never through the day would come, but now it has.”
The James brothers are not the only Glassboro (N.J.) products in the Big Ten, and 2015 matchups against Penn State’s Juwan Johnson and Wisconsin’s Corey Clement create excitement.
“That’s really special,” James said. “Usually colleges don’t look toward the smaller schools, because the bigger schools provide more athletes. But I feel like coming from a small school, the athletes are more determined and humble about what they have and what they can do in the Big Ten or other conferences.
“When I saw Juwan [at Penn State], he looked like a grown man. He completely changed in his size and his maturity and everything. It was amazing. I can’t wait to see Corey too, because I’m been away from him for so long and I used to practice with him every day, so it’s a big change.”