IN THE HUDDLE: Sterlin James

Sterlin James, CITRA NORTH MARION

When it comes to athletes, you have two kinds in the state of Florida. Those who attend very few camps and combines, and those who come to everything to make sure they will have the maximum exposure you can receive, heading into your final year. Here is one young man who has used these events to his advantage over the past five months!

During the spring and into the summer, www.floridakids.us will bring you our IN THE HUDDLE segments with football players throughout the state of Florida.

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: Sterlin James
POSITION: WR
SCHOOL: Citra North Marion
HEIGHT: 6-4
WEIGHT: 195
40 SPEED:
HEAD COACH: Craig Damon
www.floridakids.us Pre-Spring Rating: 42

I have been extremely fortunate to meet a number of high school coaches throughout the years in the state of Florida who are impressive – on and off the playing field.

One of the coaches who has always been among my favorite is North Marion's Craig Damon. Here is someone who pushes his players to colleges and media agencies, takes them anywhere possible to gain exposure and teaches them how the sport is played.

Damon has been blessed with a number of quality football players in his time with the Colts. It's certainly no mistake that he has athletes competing at some prestigious places across the country.

When it comes to sending me tape on players and getting information out on his athletes, Damon stands alone. So, when you have a player like Sterlin James, heading into his senior year, I have been fortunate to watch his progress over the past two years while most are just hearing about him for the first time in this off season.

Having seen James play twice over the past two seasons on the football field, and another two times in basketball games, I already had a pretty good idea what to expect when this spring rolled around.

Because I keep two years ahead with names, coverage and tapes, there is not a great urgency to scramble out to see players in this state this time of year. I have been to enough camps over the years to watch the progress of the underclassmen as well as the rising seniors.

At the recent Scout.com Camp/Combine at the University of South Florida, I had the pleasure of watching James for the third time this spring, and the fourth time over the past year.

I called James an emerging Greg Carr when I saw him last season. While he may not be at that level yet, I am sure that he will be exposed to enough practices, combines/camps and games to give himself the opportunity to do some of the same things that the former North Marion star did before he was heavily recruited by FSU.

"He has the ability to become something special," said Damon. "But he knows that his hard work must continue to reach that elite level."

STRENGTHS: When you happen to be 6-foot-4 and have a vertical jump of 30 inches, you already have something solid to begin with. Add in athletic ability that you get from playing basketball and 4.6 (40) speed, and you have someone who at least has the basis to make a solid impact.

Watching James perform at camps is something that makes me realize that you are dealing with a very mature person. Because he holds down a job after school and on weekends, when he takes time away from making some extra money and goes to camps, you know that it's all business.

As most of you know, evaluating talent is what I do best, and when I watch a player perform, I do it in every way possible. Not just from a combine setting where speed and strength take center stage.

I am a true believer that on a TEAM, everyone has a role. Having every receiver run a 4.3 is not essential. You build a team around receivers who have different functions. James is not a speed-burner. He is simply someone who runs good routes, has very good hands and catches the ball in traffic. He also goes up for balls, and often times, comes down with it.

In my opinion, the value of an athletic receiver is so much more valuable than one who only has speed. Athletic receivers such as James can use their bodies in so many different ways.

Watching him run patterns, James does not separate from the defender real well, but that never bothers me. I like a receiver who runs 15 or 20 yards and sits in the middle of zone coverage or finds a seam in man coverage. When you have a big body, often times that makes the defensive back play through you to defend, and that is a win/win for the offense.

The other thing that excites me about James' potential is the fact that he will get thicker and become more physical. Now, it does depend how much he does grow and bulk up whether the school he attends starts to think about a move to the tight end spot, but that is a long way down the road.

WHAT HE NEEDS TO WORK ON: Getting stronger is not an option. While he does have good strength now, hitting the weights will be essential for his future of staying on the field and remaining healthy. At the next level, defensive players are bigger and stronger and will pound you on every play.

Also, working more on using his height advantage near the goal line is something that I noticed that Damon hasn't done much of. His leaping ability, size and great hands make him a natural to catch anything in the endzone!

OVERALL: As I have said before, there is something that you just have to love about a young man who is willing to attend every camp and combine possible, realizing that the results will always be extremely positive.

This is someone who can emerge over the course of the next year because he is a quality athlete who is willing to work hard to make things happen.

COLLEGES ON THE HORIZON: Right now, the University of Louisville is very high on his list, but that does not close the door on schools such as Marshall, the University of Florida and Miami, who have all shown interest in him as well.

Get IN THE HUDDLE with some more of Florida's emerging stars:
IN THE HUDDLE – JOHN WARE
IN THE HUDDLE – MARKEVIOUS POWELL
IN THE HUDDLE – BILLY LOWE
IN THE HUDDLE – JAVON HILL
IN THE HUDDLE – CODY CLINTON
IN THE HUDDLE – JARED MARTIN
IN THE HUDDLE – COLIN MCCARTHY
IN THE HUDDLE - DONTAE JONES
IN THE HUDDLE - DAMON PIFER
IN THE HUDDLE - CHRIS SORCE
IN THE HUDDLE - SHOMARI GRANT
IN THE HUDDLE - DARRELL ROSEMAN
IN THE HUDDLE - JAMES POE
IN THE HUDDLE - RYAN ELLIS
IN THE HUDDLE - COURTNEY JONES
IN THE HUDDLE - BRYAN THOMAS
IN THE HUDDLE - JORDAN DALRYMPLE
IN THE HUDDLE - PRESTON PARKER
IN THE HUDDLE - SABBATH JOSEPH
IN THE HUDDLE - RYAN KHAWLY
IN THE HUDDLE - BRANDON JAMES
IN THE HUDDLE - KEITH HOUSTON
IN THE HUDDLE - REGGIE ODOM
IN THE HUDDLE - C.J. SPILLER
IN THE HUDDLE - RILEY COOPER
IN THE HUDDLE - JAMES JAMISON
IN THE HUDDLE - DESMOND GEE
IN THE HUDDLE - RICKY GARY
IN THE HUDDLE - LAURANCE MARIUS
IN THE HUDDLE - KENRICK ELLIS
IN THE HUDDLE - RICHARD JACKSON
IN THE HUDDLE - LABRANDON GLOVER

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