Freshman Spotlight: James Sims, Jr.

With the free safety job up for grabs, redshirt freshman James Sims, Jr. has made the most of his opportunity this spring. Despite a sore hamstring, Sims has taken most of the snaps with the first team defense and he's done more than just show up.

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With Jim Newell resting a shoulder injury so he'll be 100% in the fall, Sims has shined in contact drills, despite being very green. He was more known for his track prowess in high school, where he had the second best prep triple jump in the nation. Washington snapped him up in hopes that they could take his athleticism and teach him to be a good football player.

It's happening sooner rather than later.

"Last season when I broke my thumb I couldn't do anything. But starting around the time during the Holiday bowl game I started getting more reps and stuff. I started catching on," said Sims.

"I'm actually getting an opportunity this spring to learn everything and get some good experience, and that's helping me out a lot."

Sims has bulked up to 195 pounds and ran a blazing 4.42 40 back in March. Those are the kinds of tools you want to see in your free safety.

"I think James gets better every practice. It's fun to watch him go," said UW Secondary Coach Bobby Hauck.

"He's not a real experienced player, but you can almost watch him get better as practice goes on."

It can still be overwhelming at times for the redshirt freshman, who still has yet to take a snap in a college football game.

"Some days they put in five or six new things, so I'm learning new things everyday. You just have to learn as much as you can. They give you enough time to catch on and help. Basically we have to check our keys, watch the line. If they show run, we're down in there. If they show pass, we get back," said Sims.

"I feel like I'm getting a lot of experience and I'm learning a great deal. I'm learning things that I never learned before just playing high school football. With this spring, getting thrown in the mix with all the injuries, it's a big eye-opener. I'm still trying not to mess up as much as I do."

Sims is definitely catching on, having made several interceptions and making good tackles in the open field this spring.

"I'm thinking a lot out there, but I'm starting to react more now. I was thinking a lot in the beginning because I was too worried about screwing up. Now it's more reacting as I'm getting used to things. With more and more reps I get I get more used to being out there."

Sims finds that he's now big enough to step up and provide run support that is necessary from the secondary when ball carriers slip through the linebackers and into the secondary.

"You always have to watch the running backs. Rich Alexis - he comes at you and you're sitting there and it's like 'Damn'. But you have to go after them. You can't be intimidated," said Sims.

Sims was jumping on the track team but he has not done so since spring football started. "I'm taking time out for spring ball. I jumped at Cal-Berkeley before the spring and qualified for the Pac-10's. That was a crappy meet for me. I did jump over 50 feet, but I scratched so I was upset about that," said Sims.

"Hopefully I'll get back up there, but right now I'm worried more about football. That's my main goal, to learn as much as I can and assure myself a position on the team."

He's doing a great job of doing just that. If you were a betting person, it would be a good wager that the freshman from Las Vegas is going to be in the two deeps, at a minimum, this fall. Top Stories