By DARRYL MAXIE / firstname.lastname@example.org
It was the first school he visited. Once Ja’Waun James got a taste of the University of Alabama, he wanted more. The 6-foot-6, 305-pound junior offensive tackle from North Gwinnett High decided Tuscaloosa was the place to be, and on Friday he announced his commitment to the Crimson Tide.
“It was a great experience for me, and every time I went back it got better and more comfortable,” James said Friday evening. “The people there are great. I was impressed with the people in general and the atmosphere. [Offensive line] Coach [Joe] Pendry has a lot of experience with the NFL and college and I feel he can bring the potential out of me.”
James, ranked the No. 10 offensive line prospect by scout.com, also considered Tennessee and Florida, but those two schools never appealed to him more than Alabama.
“I felt like I was sure, like I was 100 percent with it, and didn’t feel there was any reason to drag it out,” he said. “I’m fully committed to the program.”
North Gwinnett coach Bob Sphire praised James as “one of the top recruits in the nation because of the athleticism he possesses in conjunction with his size.” Because of that, Sphire used James at left tackle, an important position in his team’s spread offense.
Alabama coach Nick Saban, who also got a commitment from James’ North Gwinnett teammate, Austin Shepherd, also played a big role in James’ decision.
“He’s a great coach with a winning tradition and also the school has a great winning tradition,” James said.
While James said he has “a pretty good relationship” with Shepherd, the fact that his teammate will also play for the Crimson Tide had little to do with his choice. “It’s an added plus,” he said.
One of the last high school games James expects to play will be the Under Armour All-Star Game in Orlando in January.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said.