Coach Bobby Bowden saw improvements in the pass protection during Monday's practice. There were also…
IN THE HUDDLE: Brandon James
These are similar to the evaluations we pass on to the hundreds of colleges who visit our website, call us on the phone and correspond via e-mail.
Here is another top football player to keep an eye on this season – and beyond.
PLAYER: Brandon K. James
SCHOOL: St. Augustine.
HEAD COACH: Joey Wiles.
www.floridakids.us Pre-Spring Rating: Not rated.
Last season while watching the first game between St. Augustine Nease and rival St. Augustine, there were two runners who continued to catch my eye. One was a bruising back who could find holes and dart to them like he‘s been their before. The other was a speedy back who could catch, find a seam and simply run away from the defenders -in a hurry!
After watching the game, I made few calls to find, at first, that both the runners I had just watched sprint up and down the field against Tim Tebow's football team were just sophomores.
After compiling the pre-spring list back in early February, I received three calls and 10 e-mails, asking how could one of the best runners in the state not even make the list? I had no response. Believing that Brandon James was a sophomore, he was never rated as a rising junior.
I quickly called St. Augustine veteran head coach Joey Wiles, who informed me that James was indeed a rising senior. Now, it was time to make up for lost ground.
Needless to say, one of the players I omitted from the original list will make a major leap when the August list comes out.
Now, for the glowing evaluation that puts this budding superstar on par with all the great ones for 2005.
STRENGTHS: Where do we start with James? First of all, he is easily one of the fastest running backs I have watched for the Class of 2006 - at any level. His sprinter's speed translates to the football field very well. He is the kind of runner, who gets the ball, turns up field, finds a crease and the rest is history.
There are so many things that make James one of the best backs in the state. As a line-from scrimmage runner, he is simply amazing. His vision and instincts are impressive. He knows exactly how to pick out a hole and run to it.
Last season, he had 900 yards on 96 carries and scored 8 times.
"This is certainly a hidden gem," said Derek Williams of SunshinePreps.net. "He has tremendous speed and his instincts are truly impressive. I rate him right up there with the best in the state."
Williams currently has the video of James up BRANDON JAMES
While Williams and others may be apprehensive to put James in the Big-3 (Miami, Florida, FSU) classification, take it from me - this young man can play at any level.
As a receiver, he has a knack of getting out of the backfield to create mismatches against linebackers as well as defensive ends up drop back in coverage. Match him against linebacker and he makes something positive happen.
Last year, James caught 30 balls for 412 yards and scored 8 times. He also had 386 yards on kickoffs and punt returns.
WHAT HE NEEDS TO WORK ON: At the next level, he will need to get outside more and make use of the sidelines, much like Leon Washington of FSU has learned to do. Even though he runs away from high school competition in the inside, at the elite collegiate level, you have 6-2, 220-pound linebackers who can run a 4.3, and he will take far too much pounding.
IN CONCLUSION: Talk about the greats in this state all you want, but when all is said and done, you have a star-quality running back who adds a dimension as a runner, kick returner and a receiver who has great hands and a burst of speed that separate the average backs from the great ones!
COLLEGES ON THE HORIZON: The Florida Gators are his favorite school, but Illinois, Penn State, UCF and South Carolina remain very much in the picture.
If you have film (VHS/DVD) or a color photo of a player and you want us to get him aboard in our INSIDE THE HUDDLE series, simply e-mail us at FloridaKids1@hotmail.com or forward to Florida Kids, P.O. Box 3181, Hallandale Beach, Fl. 33009.
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