Freshmen have been off limits to the media for the first three weeks of the season at Tennessee.
While the rule still exists for most freshmen, JaWuan James has shown early that he isn't a normal first-year player. James, who has started all three games for the Vols as a true freshman, spoke one-on-one with InsideTennessee.com's Dave Hooker on Wednesday afternoon.
QUESTION: Every prospect in high school wants to play right away at the college level. Did you really think you would end up starting this early for Tennessee?
ANSWER: I had dreams about it. When I said I wanted to, I knew enrolling early would help that. That's why I graduated early to (get accustomed) to the speed of the game, classes and everything college football is about. I also knew I would be able to get stronger earlier, by working out an extra six months. It was a big surprise for me on the second day of spring camp when they put me with the first team. I'm very thankful to Coach Dooley and this coaching staff in believing in me and giving me this opportunity.
QUESTION: How much stronger are you today than you were when you first arrived on campus?
ANSWER: Not sure exactly in numbers, but I know that I'm so much stronger than I was before I got here. Coach Wylie has got me right. I feel better prepared for the season. A big reason was getting that extra spring off-season.
QUESTION: Coach Dooley teased about how nervous you were for the Mock Game, that you almost hyperventilated. How nervous were you for the UT Martin game?
ANSWER: I'm always a little nervous before a ball game, every ball game. Probably not the extent I was for the Mock Game. I'm always thinking about everything, thinking about not messing up, etc. For the Mock Game everything just hit me that I was going to be starting in the SEC.
QUESTION: How does it feel to have your first SEC game and back-to-back games against Top 10 teags under your belt?
ANSWER: I never thought about it that way. It feels good to get out there and play and play hard and get this experience right now.
QUESTION: How do you feel you have played so far, evaluate your performance so far this season?
ANSWER: I have played OK. I think I could be more consistent. Consistent with my technique.
QUESTION: Do you feel that you have been stacking up athletically with the guys you have gone up against so far, a lot who have been juniors and seniors?
ANSWER: I think I have. I have been blessed to be my size and to have good feet. That's what has been keeping me in my block longer and not to let me look too bad out there.
QUESTION: What are your thoughts on UAB?
ANSWER: I think they are really a good team. From watching film, they have a really good defensive line, a veteran older group. They will give us a good fight. We know that from watching the film.
Dave Hooker is a veteran sportswriter in the Knoxville media market and is the host of the Drive Radio Show with Terry Fair from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday on WNOX 100.3, East Tennessee's only 100,000 watt signal.