James makes a case for greatness

So how often is a number retired, anyways? And what is the criteria that a body uses in determining when and how such an honor should be bestowed upon a person? In the case of Kenny James, throw the criteria out of the window, because by any measure you choose, James' high school career has been one for the ages.

"They retired it at the banquet the Monday after the championship football game," James told Dawgman.com shortly after signing day. "It doesn't happen too regularly. Last year they retired probably one of the best running backs to ever come out of Dos Palos, Ronnie Davis' jersey. They retired his. But to have my white jersey retired, it meant a lot to me. I give thanks to everybody for putting up with me and doing the things that needed to be done to get my jersey retired."

James put together a record setting year at Dos Palos in 2001. Here's a game-by-game breakdown of his impressive campaign.

Opp               Car   Tot   Avg	
Saint Bonaventure  29   138   4.8
Hilmar             18   273  15.2
Los Banos          30   303  10.1
Berkeley           24   139   5.8
Hanford West       28   252   9.0
Chowchilla         19   259  13.6
Kerman             10   123  12.3
Coalinga           15   212  14.1
Washington Union   20   143   7.2
Liberty            24   326  13.6
Corcoran           17   236  13.9
Garces             24   279  11.6
Memorial           20   217  10.9

Totals            278 2,900  10.4

Add to those totals 49 touchdowns and a whopping 41.6 yards per catch, and you see why the number 8 will never be worn at Dos Palos High from this point forward.

"Football is a well-known sport around Dos Palos, not just there but also in the Central Valley," Kenny said. "They keep on top of the good athletes around the Central Valley. I wouldn't say that I'm a legend or anything like that but I am kind of well-known around the Valley."

Modesty will endear himself to his future teammates at Montlake, but make no mistake about it - James knows he can get the job done. Washington Head Coach Rick Neuheisel said this of Kenny at Washington's press conference. "In my estimation and I don't say this lightly he was the best of all the tailbacks in California. Now there are other more highly touted guys in the recruiting world but this was the best tailback in California in terms of productivity and what he got done on an every down basis and I am thrilled that Kenny James is coming to Washington."

Neuheisel's confidence in James is one of the main reasons Kenny chose the Dawgs over Fresno State and Washington State. "I read that, and that meant a lot to me. I know that a lot of people in Dos Palos and people in the Central Valley recognize my talents, but to have a coach like Coach Neuheisel say something like that means a lot."

The recruiting process does claim it's share of victims and those who are relieved to find that the insanity behind making a commitment is out of the way. James is not one of them. Granted, he does admit to hiding behind a door or two when he just wanted to get away from the process, but now that the calls have stopped, he wants it to start all over again. "I was kind of used to it, but I really didn't mind," he said. "I actually kind of miss it. I loved the process."

So who was harder to talk to Kenny? The reporters or the coaches? "It was harder dealing with the coaches," he said. "When I talk to you guys, you ask all the questions, but when I talk to them, they wanted me to ask them questions, give them my concerns. It was hard to deal with that sometimes."

James talked at length about signing day. It's one that brought about some mixed emotions for him and his family. "That day is something I'll never forget," he said. "I signed away the next 4 or 5 years of my life to the University of Washington, which I feel very happy about. If I can be successful in the Pac-10, I can be successful in any aspect of life after college football. That day meant a lot to me, the community and my family. It was hard watching it go through the fax machine, because I realized that, from that point on, I'm not going to see my family as much and they are going to be missed, and also the other people within the Dos Palos community."

Is Kenny the strong, silent type? "My Mom, my sister and my Grandma, they shed some tears, but they were happy tears," he said. "I almost started to cry but I didn't want to show those kind of emotions on national television. But it was an emotional day, so I understood where they were coming from."

His family wasn't the only one that was exciting about his signing. "I got a call from Coach Neuheisel," said James. "He was still pretty fired up about it. Personally, I can't wait to get up there and compete with the talented running backs competing for a starting job. I'm fired up about it too."

There's only one thing now that James needs to finish up on, the standardized test. As you would expect from a competitor of Kenny's stature, he's going above and beyond the call to make sure he passes that test. "I've made drives to Palo Alto, California, which is about an hour and a half from here to go up and take some classes to prepare to take the SAT," he said. "It's really helped me a lot. I'm very motivated. The only thing that's standing between me and playing next year is the SAT, so I'm fired up about it. I'm motivated and I feel good about it."

With one eye firmly fixed on the future, James is not quite ready to put away the memories from this past year. "Probably one of the main things I'll never forget is meeting the people I've met and talking to the people I've talked to," he said. "It's not often you can say that you've met Coach Neuheisel or Coach (Mike) Price or Coach (Pat) Hill. To me, I feel like I'm living a life that most kids dream about. That means a lot and I know I'll never forget that."

Any words for Husky fans, Kenny? "I want Husky fans to know that I will do whatever it takes to compete for a national championship next year and also for the Rose Bowl. I'm a hard worker and I understand team unity. As long as this team has unity, they will never go wrong."

Just like that, like a bruising run between the tackles Kenny James isn't going to shy away from the obstacles in front of him. "There's no doubt about that, I'm going straight-ahead and get what I can get," he said. Then he added, "Hopefully it'll be a touchdown."

With 103 scores the past two years, Kenny knows a thing or two about finding paydirt. I wouldn't bet against him.

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