Jesse James Already Proving He’s One Of The Best
Two months ago, junior Jesse James was named to the preseason First Team All-Big Ten by Sporting News, and to the Mackey Award watch list. Now, just two games into the season, James has already begun to solidify just why he was given those honors.
In Saturday’s 21-3 defeat of Akron, James and quarterback Christian Hackenberg combined for a total of six completions, 57 yards, and two touchdowns. It was the first time in his career that James caught multiple touchdowns in a game.
“It was great,” James said about his career day. “In the first half, I missed some opportunities. Then, I came in in the second half and [Hackenberg] found me and it ended up working out.”
It was more than just happening to “work out,” as James so simply put it. His first touchdown was accomplished only after dragging his would-be tacklers into the end zone, refusing to allow their momentum to stop his own. His second was the result of completely burning the coverage and outrunning the defenders for a 44-yard touchdown. And let’s not forget, this is after banging up his shoulder a week ago in last week’s game against UCF.
However, James, nor the team, had the best first half and questions remain as to the rhythm of the offense. James isn’t worried about it, though, and he fended off the fears of future issues.
“It was us. We were just messing up small things that we’ll clean up this week and get back to it,” James said. “In the second half, we came back and regrouped a little bit, came back strong and had a pretty good second half.”
Last year, it was James’ time to get noticed — his 25 receptions for 333 yards and three touchdowns were all second on the team behind second round NFL draft pick Allen Robinson. But 2014 will be James’ year to thrive. After the injury of other star tight end Adam Breneman, the responsibility to pick up the slack left by Robinson and Breneman will heavily fall on James’ shoulders. Luckily, his powerful 6-foot-7, 270-pound frame can handle it.
His duties aren’t limited to just guiding the offense, however. Cornerback Jordan Lucas sung his praises on Saturday, saying the defense is better prepared for other teams after going up against the “freak” that is James.
“That’s probably one of the biggest, tallest tight ends teams have to face,” Lucas said. “I love going up against him in practice because you have to figure out ways to get around that big body. A lot of things you do with other tight ends, you can’t do with him because he’s so big, he’s so fast, and he’s so strong.”
His teammates have faith in him, and it’s easy to see the fans have put their full support behind James as well, as his moniker adorns Nittanyville’s massive signs plastered in the end zone.
At this rate, his name might be adorning a pretty piece of hardware by the time this season is over.