Ole Miss making a move

WR Jordan James of St. Thomas More is -- excuse the cliché -- a genuine modern-day throwback player. Don't get things twisted, however. James is a playmaker at wideout for the Cougars (2-1), ranked No. 9 statewide in 5A through the end of Week Three.

Actually, you can make the statement that the 6-foot-3 three-year starter is the epitome of a complete team player.


James, the No. 192-ranked WR prospect in the nation, hauled in 40 receptions for nearly 700 yards (and 10 TDs) last year for STM and he is a constant threat returning kicks with speed ranging in the 4.55-4.62 range.

 

James clocked a deceptive 4.
75 at the New Orleans UnderArmour/Scout.com Combine this spring but the slow track that day resulted in sluggish times for the entire pool of prospects.


After the Cougars were handed a surprising loss in Week One to St. Paul, James, who is the unquestioned leader of his squad, set the tone in Week Two with a lengthy kickoff return to open the contest as STM went on to score early and often, routing longtime 5A power Catholic (BR) 39-0. In addition, James added to the scoring in that tilt with a touchdown catch from QB Emile Joseph.


Perhaps most impressive to the football purist, however, is the attention to detail shown by James, in particular his punishing brand of run blocking which has helped pave the way for a potent STM ground attack thus far this season. On numerous plays vs. Catholic, James took an overmatched CB to the ground with aggressive, physical run blocking on a wet and slippery field.


When asked about that facet of his game, James said it conjures an internal question.

"I ask myself, do you really want to win?" said James. "We incorporate the running game a lot in our offense, and we all have to give good support to the ball carriers.
"

James says that carrying out each individual blocking assignment may make or break a potential big-gainer.


A well-rounded and talented athlete, James excels on the hardwood for the always-stellar STM basketball team.

 

However, football is his ticket to an athletic scholarship at a big-time college program. His offer sheet includes the likes of Ole Miss, Tulsa, Georgia Tech, Texas A&M, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Tulane.


"My top two right now are Ole Miss and Tulsa," James said.


In a recent scout. com article, James named Tulsa as his No. 1, but Ole Miss is making a strong push and the draw of the SEC is powerful.


"You have to like (an offer to play for) any SEC school," he said.

 

Tulsa may still remain the school to beat for James' services, however.


"At Tulsa, the coaches have said I have a great chance to make an impact and get some playing time my freshman year," said James, who is impressed with the high-octane offense displayed by Tulsa over the past couple of years.


"I haven't been hearing as much lately from Georgia Tech and Texas A&M," he added.


What school(s) might step up and make James an offer before National Signing Day?

"I think Kansas State may offer," he said. "They seem like they are planning on it and they've said that (the coaches) will be in touch pretty soon."

 

The University of Nebraska sent its top recruiter to an STM spring practice to get a first-hand look at James, but the Huskers are taking a wait-and-see attitude at the present time, stated James.


In watching STM practice and in game action this year - as compared to last year - it's obvious that James has improved his speed a great deal, regardless of the slow track at the New Orleans combine. He's reaching top-end speed much quicker and getting out of his breaks with nice acceleration -- ditto on kick returns.


"I got tested in the summer and they timed me at a 4.58," said James. "I also ran a 4.61 at the Louisiana-Lafayette football camp (over the summer).
"

When the team takes the field, you can easily spot 6-foot-3, No. 12 vocally encouraging his teammates, similar to the role QB (now LSU baseball) Mikie Mahtook assumed last year for the Cougars.


"I try to be a leader," James said. "We have a bunch of leaders on this team though. It's good for the guys to get positive reinforcement.
"

James says that the lofty preseason expectations may have lulled the Cougars into a false sense of complacency opening the season.


"We learned we're not invincible," he said. "I actually think it's good that we lost that game now. We came out this year thinking we would just dominate, but we lost and we can lose on any given night.
"

That leadership paid off when the Cougars were able to bounce back at home in Week Two to get the first win of the 2008 campaign, as well as on the road in Baton Rouge this past weekend when STM escaped with a 27-20 victory over Woodlawn.


The season didn't get off to a rolling start for the Cougars. Shortly before jamboree week, starting QB (and versatile general handyman/athlete) Matt DeGraauw suffered an injury in a scrimmage and is not expected to return until around Week Seven.

 

Although the Cougars essentially have two starting quarterbacks including DeGraauw and Josep, the loss of DeGraauw took away a key element of the STM offense.


At 6-foot-2 and 218 pounds with 4.58 speed, DeGraauw is not your average high school athlete. You could compare DeGraauw to the "Slash" role played by (Louisiana native) Kordell Stewart some years ago for the Pittsburgh Steelers.


"It hurt losing DeGraauw," said James. "We use him at QB, RB, WR. He could play linebacker easily as well but he's so valuable on offense that we like to have him (on that side of the football.
"

In addition to shaving considerable time off the 40 time listed in his profile, James has managed at the same time to add more muscle - gaining about 12 pounds (188-to-200 lbs.) He can get up in the air as well (37-inch vertical).


If you are looking for the perfect textbook example for a  football player, look no further than Jordan James. He get the spotlight with his offensive numbers, but he also tends to the finer aspects of the game the way a leader is expected to handle himself.


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