WHAT TO LIKE: Davonte James is the type of linebacker many programs covet. The Springfield (Oh.) native plays with a tough, aggressive mindset that seems to always land him in the right place at the right time. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, James uses his physicality to slide past interior lineman, but also uses technique and his "ball hawking" ability to rush around the edge.
There's no question about James' toughness or hitting ability. He can shed blocks well, and does well in maintaining his positioning on the field. He already has good size to be an outside linebacker in West Virginia's 3-4 scheme, but if he continues to grow and add weight, he could wind up as an inside 'backer in the future. That decision is clearly down the road, but that versatility is another plus on his ledger.
POSSIBLE CONCERNS: While James is undoubtedly a physical talent, there are some questions about his flexibility, which could give him some problems in dropping into coverage as a buck linebacker. That, as much as growth, might push him to the inside, where he would have to show the ability to play in traffic and scrape down the line in pursuit.
That's the good news, but James will also have to show the ability to make a position move if necessary. However, he has the foundation of good fundamentals to rely on, so it won't be a surprise to see him develop into a quality Division 1 player.
OVERALL ANALYSIS: James fits ideally in what the Mountaineers would like to accomplish in this class. He has several attributes that provide a foundation to build upon, and others that can be tuned once inside the Mountaineer program. After spending time inside WVU's new weight room facilities to bolster his speed and explosiveness, he has the ability to become an even more well-rounded player, which could make him a valuable cog in the linebacking corps. It's rare to use the word versatility with a linebacker, but that -- along with potential -- fits James perfectly.