When Darius James came back from his foot injury, Harker Heights moved him to guard for their playoff game against DeSoto. James was obviously rusty — he hadn't played since the first half of the season-opener against Round Rock Stony Point — and his weight was up over 340 pounds.
But even then, against one of the top 5A teams in the state of Texas, James made an impact. He was a shadow of his peak, but James Still routinely mauled the man in front of him, clearing the way for multiple long Harker Heights runs. And though DeSoto went on to win, it was hard not to be impressed by impact the half-speed James made.
That's because the full-speed James projects as one of the best center prospects in the last 10 years, somebody capable of playing five spots along the offensive line — at his peak he's probably 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds — with tremendous feet and athleticism for a player of his size.
I saw James in both games he played his senior year, and I also saw him multiple times his junior year. At his best, he's a tremendously quick big body who is able to get the angle, then exploit that by driving opponents away. In one game, a team was determined not to let him drive their nose tackle 10 yards deep, so they left him totally uncovered. So instead, he consistently made it to the second and third levels, making blocks in space and still proving to be a game-changer in that respect.
James is currently in the process of getting his weight back down and regaining that quickness from the injury. And it's no secret that Texas has struggled to run the ball against teams with big nose tackles in recent years. Could James be a long-answer to that question? Sure. But don't be surprised if Texas gives him a shot at guard to try and get him on the field earlier.
Either way, James projects as the kind of nasty interior lineman with mobility that is coveted by every country in America.