With all the discussion about the Tennessee offensive line in recent years and the need to reinforce the line with star big men, the new staff in Knoxville did a great job of not only holding onto the previous commitments, but adding some more elite talent as the class came to a close. One of the previous commitments that the staff was able to keep in place was one that was already on campus. Ja’Wuan James had been a UT commitment since November, less than two months after de-committing from the Crimson Tide of Alabama.
The 6-foot-6, 305 James is widely regarded as one of the top offensive line prospects in the country and is rated as the number two offensive tackle in the ESPNU 150. His commitment and subsequent signing with the Vols was a huge coup for the University of Tennessee football program, no matter who the coach was. He was long thought to be a someone who would be a major piece to any program’s recruiting class and Alabama thought they had him locked up before the previous staff was able to sway him to Knoxville.
As a key building block in the Tennessee class of 2010, James has bought into everything that UT has offered and his early enrollment will pay off in the end, or maybe even in the beginning. James has the size, the strength and the advanced body that should allow him to step in right away and become a force for the Tennessee offensive line. While his game is a little raw and he has some consistency issues in terms of his footwork, he has the overall frame and power to become an instant impact player in the SEC.
James is the type of athlete who can develop into an elite pass blocker in time as he has long arms and the ability to get into the defender before they can get into him. He can seal the perimeter with the best of them and once he is able to get his footwork on par with the rest of his game, he has the potential to become the type of kid who will start for multiple years in Knoxville.
James is one of eight players already on campus and anytime you get a kid to turn on a rival and join the Vols, he is bound to become a fan favorite in no time. Speaking of time, James has plenty of time to get adjusted to college life and get himself tuned up and make himself a major force in fall camp.
Here is ESPN and Scouts Inc. evaluation of Ja’Wuan James and what led them to give him 4-Stars…
James is a raw talent with a huge upside. He has tremendous size and will be a very good offensive lineman once he grows into his body. Powerful and strong in both the lower and upper body but must learn how to coordinate both in order to get maximum movement on the defensive lineman. Needs to play a little lower and maintain power angles throughout the block. Flashes of powerful hands and initial punch; just needs consistency. Possesses quick feet for his size but is inconsistent with footwork in terms of fundamentals. Very good reach and zone blocker that is smooth in executing the reach block on the perimeter. Comes out of his stance quickly and gains outside pad control when edge blocking and is instinctive in climbing to second level to pick up scraping linebacker. Mobile lineman that can develop into an excellent player in space. Pass protection is solid and is actually more violent with first blow delivery in order to stop the pass rusher’s initial charge. Sometimes gets over-extended and off balance. James has the potential to be an exceptional offensive tackle but must be a better finisher of all blocks. His size and mobility make him a valuable asset at the next level.
As one of the main pieces in this class and someone who is already on campus, expect James to become a major part of the Tennessee program in the coming months. He has the potential to be a guy that can be the foundation of a powerful offensive line for a number of years.