The first time Jamel James committed to a coach. This time he committed to a school.
The 5-foot-11, 220-pound running back from Katy, Texas ran through his recruitment last summer when he took himself off the market surrounding a summer camp stop at Arkansas. James committed to the Razorbacks because of head coach Bobby Petrino, a realization that hit the three-star prospect when the school fired Petrino amidst an off-season scandal.
“It was good being committed to Arkansas and everything was set and I felt good about it,” James said. “Once things happened with coach Petrino, I realized I was only excited about it because of who was the head coach. I wasn’t committed to the school or the academics.
“When I started looking at schools again that’s when I first started thinking about Notre Dame. I liked the coaches a lot, but I wanted it to be about the school first.”
On Saturday James showed just how much he’s about Notre Dame by committing to the Irish without having visited South Bend. He joked he’d take all five of his official visits to Notre Dame this fall and has one in mind during the Michigan weekend.
For now, James’ exposure to Notre Dame has come through visits to Cinco Ranch from Chuck Martin and Kerry Cooks, plus some interaction with Irish commitment Corey Robinson of San Antonio, about three hours west of James’ hometown, which is a Houston suburb.
Notre Dame visited James during spring practice to scout him.
“I had a feeling about Notre Dame already and talking to players from Notre Dame who are already committed and talking to the coaches, I just got a good vibe,” James said. “I’m going down there for the Michigan game, but (committing) was bound to happen. I’m probably going to take all of my officials up there.”
James gives Notre Dame a pure running back prospect, although at one point during his recruitment he was looking more for a shot at safety. The Irish like the three-star talent on offense, where James burst onto the high school scene as a sophomore before a solid junior season.
But James knows being solid isn’t enough when it comes to making it at the next level. In addition to Notre Dame, James listed offers from Florida State, LSU, Houston and West Virginia.
“I need to be more of a team player this season,” James said. “It can go many ways with my own self, being a better team guy. I think I can elevate other players on my team. I’m learning to play that role as a leader instead of just being a role player.
“I’m learning how to talk to people, how to listen, how to understanding and see how they react. That’s part of being a leader, knowing how to change your teammates’ emotions and get them going.”
Now James has a new team on his horizon in Notre Dame. He believes the Irish are getting an all-around running back.
“People compare me to Arian Foster, that’s what I hear,” James said. “I would say that I’m a mix of power and finesse.”
Large selection without the Bookstore sticker shock