But it was offer #12 that told him that his recruitment would get bigger.
"When Florida offered me, I though right away, that it's starting to get serious," James said. "They don't offer a lot of guys from California. I had been talking with them and I expected to get one, but not this early. I was surprised and excited."
And while he's not naming a leader, a few of them stood out.
"Of the offers I have, UCLA, Arizona, Washington, Florida and Cal are the ones that stand out to me," said James. "I'm also hearing from Notre Dame, too, and they could be offering me soon. Everything's even right now. I'm going to try and take some unofficial visits and see some of the schools."
On Sunday, James took an unofficial visit to UCLA, attending a baseball game and then taking a tour of the campus.
"Coach (Wayne) Moses is recruiting me for UCLA," said James. "We went to the school and we got a tour of the campus. It was my first time there at UCLA. It was a big school and it was an excellent visit. I've been in the Rose Bowl a couple of times but this was my first tour of the school."
James was on pace for a monster junior season, rushing for over 1,000 yards in the first five games, before a broken forearm sidelined him for the remainder of the season. So he was surprised that his recruitment has accelerated as much as it has, having missed so much time on the field.
"This is definitely a surprise to me," said James. "I didn't think it was going to be this much attention. But it's making me work harder and wanting to get out their faster."
James is planning on attending a handful of camps this spring, including the UA Combine and Nike Camp and then the USC Rising Stars Camp.
He's already been selected to play in the UnderArmour All-America Game.
"I didn't think I'd be playing in that type of game. And that's where I'm going to announce my decision," said James.
So with January 2010 locked in as his target to announce, James knows he's got some time to whittle his list down.
"I'm going to try and take all five of my visits before I decide," said James. "Academics are important for me. And I want to compete for playing time as a freshman. I'm just looking for a place I feel comfortable at."
James is running track for Corona, working himself into top shape before he embarks on his senior year. "I'm trying to get faster and stronger so I'm running track to work on my speed. But I'll just do football in college," said James, who clocked a 4.42 at the recent UA Combine. "We're looking forward to this season. It's still going to go through Centennial, but we're starting to get more respect around the league. We hung with Centennial, they didn't blow us out."
James ran for 1,135 yards in five games before suffering the arm injury. He was named First Team All-League and Honorable Mention All-County and Third Team All-State Underclass.
Academically, he has a 3.4 GPA and will be taking the ACT and SAT this spring.