The 2019 recruiting process was a bit of a whirlwind when it came to cornerbacks. After the sudden de-commitment of Marques Caldwell and Elijah Blades, the second reserve slot was left open. Sure, Mykael Wright, who went on to have a fantastic first season, had Ducks fans feeling somewhat confident about the future of the cornerback position, but there was still a shadow of doubt about filling that reserve spot.
Then, from Spanish Fort, Alabama, came DJ James. James is a force to be reckoned with on the field. Coming in at 6 feet, 182 lbs., James demonstrates a raw athletic ability that makes watching him play an experience. His movements flow, his field vision is astute, and despite having a slightly smaller frame, he can pack a serious punch when halting plays. James does seem to be a little slower on his feet than would be ideal, but he makes up for it with pure athleticism and playing with heart.
As a high school senior, James had six interceptions, 16 pass breakups, and 43 tackles, coming in as the No. 15 overall recruit in the state of Alabama, and the No. 42 ranked cornerback nationally at the time. James lettered for all four years of his high school football career. While watching James’ Senior year highlight tape (which you can find here), I found it hard not to be impressed by the casual finesse that he demonstrates on the field, easily plucking passes out of the air, absolutely blazing down the field, and leaving his opponents tasting grass on the ground behind him.
James was considering offers from Florida, FAU, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Kansas, Louisville, Memphis, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Ole Miss, South Alabama, Southern Miss, Tennessee, Troy, UAB, and Alabama before committing to Oregon. “The atmosphere up there is different. I love it up there,” James said on his signing day in February of 2019. “I can’t wait to get back up there. I think about it every day. It’s just a different side, and I wanted to create my own route to something different, and I love it up there“.
James played in 13 games out of the 14 Oregon games in the 2019 NCAA season, lining up for a total of 85 snaps while securing 10 tackles, seven solo tackles, and one pass breakup. With a solid first season under his belt as a secondary, there is no doubt that James will continue to make a difference on the field.
Hopefully, college football will return this fall unhindered and we can really have a chance to see James in the spotlight, but there is no doubt that he has all the tools to be an impact player on this fresh Oregon roster.
Top Photo: From Twitter
Zeke Lerner-Wood is a freshman at the University of Oregon from Alameda, California. Growing up in the Bay, Zeke follows the A’s, Raiders, and Warriors and since starting classes at the University, Zeke has been introduced to the world of NCAA football and has become an avid fan.
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