"He's the best athlete I have ever coached," said Swittel.
Therefore it was no surprise for Swittel that James picked up a scholarship offer from Wisconsin at the team's junior day over the weekend, but it was still a reason for him to smile.
"He's an impressive football player," said Swittel. "Even if he wasn't a great athlete, he still would be a really good football player. He is just one of those rare, rare kids that has it all. He's instinctive in the game, he works extremely hard and he doesn't rest on his laurels. He tries to get better each day and this is a kid that is stronger than hell and can run like the wind."
While James plays primarily at defensive end for East (where he recorded 86 tackles and 12.5 sacks last season), Swittel says Wisconsin is looking at James at multiple positions because of his versatility.
After playing primary defensive tackle as a sophomore, Swittel said he worked with James in the offseason to develop into a tight end because he was simply was ‘too good to not be playing offense.' As a result, schools are trying to figure out where James best fits into their scheme.
"He's got great tight end potential," Swittel said. "At one point in the season, he touched the ball 12 times and scored seven touchdowns. A lot of schools are looking at him as an athlete rather than just a defensive end. A lot of schools are intrigued. One of the Wisconsin coaches told me they were fighting over him."
"I don't have a crystal ball, but I am assuming Michigan State will offer because they really like him," said Swittel. "I know Wisconsin is one of the schools that he is excited about and you always want to feel appreciated by your home school. The fact that they have offered him, I think Alec is extremely happy about that because of his interest in Wisconsin."
In addition to James, Wisconsin made offers to in-state prospects Brookfield Central Chikwe Obasih and Beaver Dam running back R.J. Shelton as well as this weekend. Illinois defensive back Jalen Banks, Illinois linebacker Garret Dooley and Indiana linebacker Tim Kimbrough also received offers Saturday.
With Pennsylvania tight end Scott Orndoff opening up his recruitment, the Badgers are looking for their first verbal commit in the 2013 recruiting class.
The following is a Q&A done with James this evening
What was the day like for you up until you met with Coach Bielema? Did you have a notion that you might get an offer?
James: It was a really good day. In the beginning, they talked about that they only have 11 scholarships and that not everyone was going to get an offer at junior day. Then I was thinking I might not get one, but I am confident in my play that I could get one from there. I was little worried that they didn't have many scholarships, but I was confident in my abilities that I was hoping I could get one.
What was that meeting like than with Coach Bielema when he did offer you a scholarship?
James: Coach Bielema said I was ready to play there. They said I fit in perfectly athletic wise, the way I carry myself and my personality all was a good fit for Wisconsin. It was a lot of surprise and excitement because I had never talked to Coach Bielema face to face. I have seen him and said bight before, but I never sat down and talked to him, got to know what he was liked and looked into his eyes before. I enjoyed talking to him. He seems like a knowledge coach that knows what he's doing.
How does getting this offer impact your decision?
James: It means a lot, but I am definitely not putting that over other scholarships just because they are close to home. I am basically just focused on how I am going to play next season and not trying to think about which school is better than the other. I am trying to put all that off until after the season so I can have a better season than I did last year.
Is that going to be tough that you might miss your opportunity if you wait too long because UW has so many scholarships or did Wisconsin say they would hold a spot for you?
James: I don't think it's a big risk because I am confident in my athletic ability that even if they did take away (my scholarship), I wouldn't let it affect the way my play. I am just worried about my play, and I think they like that about me that I don't want to get too involved in recruiting. I will probably narrow my decision at the end of the summer if more offers come and I'll make a final, final decision after the season. If I have a bad season this year, it will affect me more than my recruitment.
I know you are going to Michigan State this weekend. What other schools are showing you interest?
James: Iowa seems like they are interested a lot, Cincinnati just started talking to me and Missouri just started talking to me.
Your coach said you could play either tight end or defensive end in college. Where are the majority of schools looking at you and where is Wisconsin looking at you?
James: A lot of schools are looking at me for defensive end and Wisconsin, when I was talking to the defensive line coach, said they like me at defensive end and be a rush end. That's where I feel most comfortable and that's where I am best yet.
How have you thrived at that position over the last year and a half?
James: I think juts my overall speed and knowledge of the game has helped me on the field and get all this recognition. I think I have put a lot of hard work in to help me increase my football I.Q. I think that has helped me with my agility and my quickness.