Ex-Bama-commit James opens up about opening up recruitment

North Gwinnett coach Bob Sphire pokes his head out of his fieldhouse office and let’s loose a yell that penetrates the cacophony of clings and clangs and shouts emanating from the weight room next door. “JaWuan, come here just a minute, would ya?” he barks. Seconds later, JaWuan James arrives obediently, his 6-foot-6, 305-pound frame filling seemingly every inch of the red-painted doorway. Informed a reporter is there to talk to him, James’ hulking shoulders slump ever so slightly in a subtle show of disappointment. But a slight grin, smiling eyes and a firm handshake soon erase any signs of reluctance. The elusive James — a four-star offensive tackle who committed to Alabama last May but abruptly reopened his recruitment two weeks ago — has done his level best to avoid any in-depth discussions about the when-what-why of that decision. But, realizing there’s no avoiding it this time, James chooses one of the two chairs in front of Sphire’s desk and swivels it around toward the other as if to say, ‘let’s go.’ So I sit down in the other chair and following is our exchange.

North Gwinnett's JaWuan James is a big man. That's an 8-foot ceiling not too far over his head. (Photo by Chip Towers)

North Gwinnett's JaWuan James is a big man. That's an 8-foot ceiling not too far over his head. (Photo by Chip Towers)

Q: So, what’s your life been like since you reopened your recruitment? I’m assuming a little hectic?

A: “I probably get 20 calls a day. Somewhere around there. A lot. A lot of E-mails and letters. It’s been rough. It’s like it was when it first started back in the spring. But, I mean, my Mom, my parents and everybody is helping me through this whole thing.”

Q:  I hate to ask you to rehash, but just for the sake of clarity, why did you back off your commitment to Alabama?

A. “Well, back when I committed and the Alabama probation stuff came out, I expressed to them my concerns about it. I’ve talked to them about it since and they’ve been helping me throughout and trying to make me feel more comfortable. But I never felt the comfortability I felt back when I first committed to them. So there was that. But mostly I just felt like I needed to take a step back and just re-evaluate everything.”

Q:  Obviously Georgia has gotten back in it with you. I understand UGA offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and line coach Stacy Searels came to your game this past Friday?

A: “Yes sir, they came to the Mill Creek game.”

Q: And you made an unofficial visit to Georgia for the Arizona State game, correct?

A: “Yes sir. I got a chance to get back on campus after not being there in a long while. My Dad and I talked to Coach [Mark] Richt before the game and we got to talk to Coach Searels, too, before and after the game. I talked to Coach Richt after the game, too, come to think of it. But basically I just wanted to get back on campus, see a game and feel the atmosphere again.”

Q: What’s Georgia telling you in regards to football?

A: “They were talking about how they have some needs on the offensive line now. They said they’re getting kind of thin.”

Q:  I understand you’re planning on going back to Athens for the LSU game this weekend. But that’s an unofficial visit, too. So do you plan on taking an official visit to Georgia?

A: “Yes, Coach Richt asked me if I would so I’m planning on it.  I don’t know when yet. Later.”

Q: Meanwhile, I hear Tennessee is coming after you hard?

A. “Yes, sir, they’re recruiting me hard. . . . I’m going on an official visit there when they play UGA on Oct. 10.”

Q: What coach is recruiting you for the Vols?

A: “Coach Ed Orgeron.” [laughs]

Q: You laugh. He’s quite a character, isn’t he?

A: “He’s just a funny guy [laughs again]. I mean, he talks to you all the time, checking up on you, sending all kinds of cards and stuff. I mean, he’s a good guy. The whole staff up there is pretty good.”

Q: Can you share something Orgeron done that makes him so funny?

A: “One letter he sent he had written on the envelope, ‘Mailman, put me on top. He’s our No. 1 prospect right now.’ Just stuff like that.”

Q: So who else is still in it for you? Is Alabama?

A: “I mean, yes sir, them. And then I’m going on an official to UCLA Oct. 17 with my teammate Justin Dickens (senior wide receiver). . . .  I was down at Florida, too (for Tennessee game on Sept. 19). That was a crazy experience down there. A crazy place.”

Q: Would you say it’s serious with Florida, too?

A: Yes sir.

Q: So you really are wide open. Well, what has the reaction been from Alabama, first from the fans, then from the coaching staff?

A: “Some people are saying, ‘JaWuan, we respect what you’re thinking right now and good luck wherever you go but we still want you here.’ Then there are other fans that are, like, ‘you’re making the biggest mistake of your life’ and ‘we’ll find somebody better’ and stuff like that. But most of the people in this community are, like, ‘Good luck wherever you go.’ The [Alabama] coaches understand that I felt uncomfortable and they want me to still consider going there. They’re still recruiting me. So they seem understanding.”

Q: Will you make another trip back to Tuscaloosa?

A: “I don’t even know yet. I haven’t really talked to them about it. I’ve talked to coach [Kirby] Smart like once. They told me they wanted me to at first. That’s my intention, hopefully.”

Q: I understand you’re a very good student, too, and you plan to graduate early. Doesn’t that kind of compress this whole process?

A: “Yes sir. I have to make a decision hopefully by December.”

Q: So what’s it going to come down to?

A: “Probably the coaches I feel most comfortable with and where the coaches have the best interest in me getting an education and making me a better player.”

65 comments Add your comment


September 29th, 2009
6:06 am

Gee Tim,it must be awesome for you to feel that powerful. I mean you make it sound like you got the drop on every investigative reporter in the south.Are you on the UGA payroll?Are you a undercover recruiter? The way you slant the article in The dawgs favor is nice,but then to try to come up with some juicy stuff from Tenn and their staff goes beyond silly.What’s next an article about Kiffin and Orgeron recruiting tactics?Here’s an idea,how about facing up with the source directly instead of using a high school kind to help you.Oh yea,nice pic you put on the page too.Did you take that yourself with your camera phone?


September 29th, 2009
6:11 am

Tim, the staff at N Gwinnett called and said you left the sweaty jock behind.Thanks for the good work. Your pal,Rodney.

Top Dawg

September 29th, 2009
6:51 am

Hey Sniff, if the shoe fits………….

J Dog

September 29th, 2009
7:32 am

I can’t remember all of the stuff Kiffin’s staff has tried to get recruits, but I do remember something about the coaching staff cutting the lights out and ripping their clothes off. If I’m a reporter, or a reader, I’d want to hear the lowdown on Kiffin & company as well. Is he a sex offender??

bama dawg

September 29th, 2009
7:47 am

Enter your comments here
Mr. Towers you are way to talanted to be doing the recruiting talk. The paper needs to put you back on UGA. Your talents are missed every day. You were absolutly great, and while I read you every day, you are missed every game day


September 29th, 2009
7:56 am

way to stay objective there, terrible article, nothing more than UGA homerism.


September 29th, 2009
7:59 am

Enter your comments here
Here’s my perspective and I’ve always felt this way: it’s the most important decision that any young man will make and he needs to be as comfortable and sure as possible. So, as a Bama fan, this is not sour grapes, but if he is 100% sure what it means to be a Tider then I don’t want him and wish him the best wherever he goes.
Is his decision a mistake, I don’t know nor is it for me to. His decision will not effect me one iota. I will say that someone has done their job and filled him with strong belief that trouble is down the road for Bama. Of the schools he’s indicated I would hate to think it is UGA, I hold respect for MR. I know beyond any uncertainty that LK, EO and his bunch will do and say anything to get recruits they want; more power to them, but a kid sold ON your program will be a bigger asset than one scared OFF another. I do believe if he goes to UT he will regret it, who wants to join a circus when you can join a champion?


September 29th, 2009
8:22 am

Is is anymore of a recruiting circus for coaches at UT to rip their shirts off (god forbid an athlete seeing another mans chest) than to see Richt doing backflips off the high dive after practice, or for Ronnie Gardner (misspell intended) to attend the same church as the kids UGA is after? Looks to me like UT is doing the same sort of stuff that the other schools do, trying to get an edge. Also I agree with sniff and a couple other guys here, this was a terrible article. Notice how Towers baits this kid into ” Orgeron is a character isn’t he” or “Tell us something funny about Orgeron”. Just plain shameful that you would gig a high school kid inot this. Inexcuseable.

bad brad

September 29th, 2009
8:43 am

Tim, I enjoyed the article; didnt see any bias on your part. Didn’t seem like you were baiting James into anything about Orgeron, just sharing that he is a type A personality and that is something we wouldnt know unless we had met him or read about. Ala and Tn fans need to realize that you write for AJC, an Atlanta paper and that UGA is the flagship school here. They could always go to local papers in Tuscaloosa/BHM or Knoxville, but don’t for some reason or other.


September 29th, 2009
8:52 am

Or perhaps we do go to the local hometown papers, thus is the reason we see the what a shameful article this is.You should realize 1) this is a high school kid that Towers tries to build up to superstar status. I’m sure the kid is a good kid etc. but he is still in high school.
2) The article could simply say, the kid de-committed and why he did so, rather Towers tries to imply that Bama is facing probation, and that Tenn may be the cause.
3) If Towers wants to know about Tenn coaches why doesn’t he go directly to the source instead of baiting the kid into a leading question. Makes it look like the kid is a witness against Tenn or Bama.


September 29th, 2009
9:03 am

Yes sir. I got a chance to get back on campus after not being there in a long while. My Dad and I talked to Coach [Mark] Richt before the game and we got to talk to Coach Searels, too, before and after the game. I talked to Coach Richt after the game, too, come to think of it. But basically I just wanted to get back on campus, see a game and feel the atmosphere again.”

Forget the game, lets do some recruiting!

Louis Varnson

September 29th, 2009
9:23 am

Great work Chip…more like this. Keep it coming.

Gerald Tinnon

September 29th, 2009
10:11 am

I guess JaWaun is not concerned about being on a national champioship club since he is considering Tennessee and Georgia. That’s cool, some kids just don’t care about rings. Before he ever decides, the Gators could be wearing their fourth and Bama could be wearing their 13th.

George P Burdell

September 29th, 2009
10:24 am

This young man would be a great fit at Tech.Does he have the grades?Please advise.


September 29th, 2009
10:46 am

Chip didn’t ask about grades. He was more concerned with Kiffin and Orgeron and Bama probation possibilities.


September 29th, 2009
11:02 am

Goodness what a bunch of whiners. You’d think from reading these posts that Chip had insulted their kids and hooked up with their wives, but no. It was just something much bigger: a newspaper article about recruiting a high school kid.

Buck up you bunch of pansies.


September 29th, 2009
11:04 am

I understand you’re a very good student, too, and you plan to graduate early. Doesn’t that kind of compress this whole process?

A: “Yes sir. I have to make a decision hopefully by December.”

I think that qualifies asking about grades and determining whether or not his grades are good enough to get into just about anywhere he wants to go. I wouldn’t think graduating early would be an option for a player who couldn’t get into Tech or even Vandy.

George P Burdell

September 29th, 2009
11:05 am

Tech obviously does not want him.I assume he has issues.

GA Tech Insider

September 29th, 2009
11:06 am

Great interview, Chip.

JaWuan sounds like a quality young man and a player any program would be proud to have. I doubt he’ll forget the “scholar” part of college experience as well. His parents should be very proud. Best of luck no matter where JaWuan chooses to play.


September 29th, 2009
11:17 am

This one will be a dogfight. Ed O can work some miracles though. Looks like UGA might lead but wait till we get our visit.


September 29th, 2009
11:26 am

There are actually several Alabama commitments reconsidering their options now. First there was the probation situation which if you look at history, will probably rear it’s ugly head again at Alabama. Then, the you tube video that has been circulating involving the Alabama fan getting angry and using the N word has been really making these kids think twice. The comments below the video saying this guy is my hero and such has really got these kids thinking twice.

Kind of shows the true feelings of most Alabama fans towards African Americans. It’s okay for them to play for the athletic teams but they will still use racial slurs when talking about these same athletes they cheer for. I have been to every SEC school for football games and have only heard that word at 2 of the schools as I walked around tailgates. Made me think we were back in the 60s? What a backwards fan base and how would any AA athlete want to go and play there? (FYI the other school was Ole Miss).

Link… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HW1bJeqYdG0

Chip Towers

September 29th, 2009
11:27 am

RedKneckerson: You’re kidding, right?


September 29th, 2009
11:35 am

Yes, Chip I am only teasing. Seriously I am.


September 29th, 2009
11:46 am

How can you take someone seriously with the name Red Kneckerson? Typical UT fan I guess… Orgeron, is a colorful guy to say the least, so why get mad at writer for stating the obvious?


September 29th, 2009
12:23 pm

RecruitInsider how could anyone take anything you say seriously after an idiotic statement like this shows how most Alabama fans feel about african americans. I am not sure what school you pull for but I for one am sure glad it is not Bama. Your statement makes you look even more stupid than the guy on the youtube video you complain about. People like you only hope Bama goes on probation because that is the only way you could possibly compete against them.

Robert Ray

September 29th, 2009
12:27 pm

Enter your comments here
Recruiterinsider, you UT guys are all alike, always hammering the other guys and putting out little tidbits that push the truth, just like your head coach. I think JJ is a fine young man and I hope he does take into consideration all aspects of the decision he is about to make. Living in Knoxville and close to your program, I actually know lots of things I shouldn’t know and I am aware of the probation theme that being pushed. It’s so ironic that those that are the standard bearers are the ones that have had little success in coaching. Being able to recruit a kid can probably be done by a good car salesman, but coaching a kid up and being concerned about his future as a productive citizen is what the recruits need to be looking at. O may be able to write a cute note on an envelop but if you want to know how good he is at coaching check out some of the Ole Miss folks and regarding LT checkout some of the insiders at Bama. Also, if you were a real insider you would know that New Orleans was done a favor by Lane Kiffin when he was hired by Tennessee,,,,,and that’s absolutely real insider information. ……I personally hope JJ goes to Georgia, since the orange has obviously tainted him relative to his original commitment. At least Mark Richt is a gentlement and possesses a level of honesty and commitment deserving of such a fine young man. Understand Coach R also believes in marriage and t

bill walter

September 29th, 2009
12:38 pm

He wants to play and doesnt want to sit out a year or two and learn. He can go to Tennessee or Georgia and never win a thing, or he can come to my Gators and sit out a year or two and actually learn something. Florida and Alabama will be fighting for the national championship for the next few years. Georgia wiil have a coaching change and Tennessee is the worst school in the SEC with an idiot of a coach. He sounds scared to me. And yes, I can retract that comment if he comes to Florida.

Bama Bill

September 29th, 2009
1:21 pm

Recruiter Insider likely has never seen a college campus and offers nothing to this young athletes circumstances – nothing has changed at Bama except for winning with some really good football players !

Satan Sabin

September 29th, 2009
1:27 pm

Hey man, I cant believe you ran out on the greatest coach in history (me) with the biggest ego in history (me) and the biggest liar in history (me)!


September 29th, 2009
1:29 pm

Sounds to me like a young man with his head on straight.

Why walk into a cesspool of probation at Alabama? He wants, and should get, the best education he can, combined with a very high level football program that can prepare him for an NFL shot.

Georgia is the obvious choice – but WAIT – he can also get a great education at Florida, Alabama or Tennessee. Either way, he wins if he studies and practices hard.


September 29th, 2009
1:32 pm

How bout someone come up with an original thought other than to call a LOCAL reporter a HOMER. Of course they are homer’s, that’s why that write locally and not nationally!! Yes, ATL is a melting pot, we have tons of fans from everywhere, but if you think you are going to read an unbiased account 100% of the time especially in the sports or blogs sections you are crazy! Stop wasting your breath on stating the obvious.

As for this kid. He sounds intelligent and well-spoken. I hope he does well wherever he goes, sounds like he will be an asset to the SEC as he has some great schools recruiting him. Good luck man.


September 29th, 2009
1:37 pm

Hopefully the young man will do the right thing for him and choose UGA. I thought the article was well written and, since we are in Georgia, was not slanted enough toward Georgia and Georgia Tech.

RC Cola and a Moon Pie

September 29th, 2009
1:50 pm

recruitinsider – don’t make a blanket statement about “most alabama fans” – there’s no way you know “most alabama fans”. there’s millions of Bama fans. do you honestly think there aren’t idiots in Knoxville, Athens, Gainesville or Fayetteville? Puhleeeze…

“most bama fans” want quality kids – meaning they have ball skills on the field and life skills off – no matter the color. I was just as disappointed when Rolondo McClain got in trouble as I was when John Parker Wilson did – both of them surprised the hell out of me. Saban doesn’t care about what you are – he cares about what you do and how you represent the school and the program.

If this kid doesn’t want to go to T’town – that is his decision. It is the most important decision this kid will make at this point in his life and he needs to vet it out as thoroughly as he can. He needs to check facts and not believe innuendo. “this bama fan” wishes him nothing but the best…

Not Disappointed

September 29th, 2009
1:55 pm

Good luck where ever you descide to go. Study hard, play hard and the rest will come soon enough.

Ramblin Wreck!

George P Burdell

September 29th, 2009
2:15 pm

I think the study hard comment would only apply if he came to Tech.Wink Wink….

Chip Towers

September 29th, 2009
2:23 pm

Sniff, GarDner: I’m eager to find out who is this Tim character.


September 29th, 2009
3:01 pm

Enter your comments here this is a young man that has been listing to all the talk at home about how good he is now the ajc, all the coaches calling his head is as big as good beach ball. when he step on the pratice field at some college he’ll have guy just as big, mean and ugly drive his head down between his pads, then he will wonder where is those nice coaches with the letters and all the stuff they told me. The coaches will be entirly different and only want one thing you either give it or your just a big glob to them. Good luck kid, u r going to need it. Your football life can be over in a second. Dont let others infulance you, get ready for the years to come.

Matt Smith

September 29th, 2009
3:11 pm

I just had the Ole Times country buffet. I had 6 plates. I am stuffed. Can’t wait to try to beat my record of 23 pieces of fried chicken this Saturday before the LSU game. Mostly wings & thighs but still good work. About 8 breast.
Go dawgs!


September 29th, 2009
3:14 pm

Wow, one of the top OL recruits in the nation scuttled his committment to Bama and is now considering the Vols. Boy that Lane Kiffin just has no idea what he’s doing, does he? Yea, I’m sure he’s gonna run that program into the ground any day now. Amazing how someone so stupid and inexperienced can just keep attracting quality recruits by the boat load against all those big bad EXPERIENCED SEC coaches. Number 3 class in the nation so far. I mean, how do you explain it?


September 29th, 2009
3:18 pm

Actually, that YOUTUBE video was an idiot using the N-word about the VaTech player that fouled the Alabama player. While the guy is an obvious idiot, it does show his passion for the football team in general. Kind of like Orgeron ripping his shirt off and playing Wild Boys in the background. The BIG DIFFERENCE is that it was the alabama FAN acting like an idiot while it is Tennesee’s COACHING STAFF that are the buffoons. Alabama can’t pick its fans but you paid your idiot coaches millions. Who is the joke on now???


September 29th, 2009
3:31 pm

LMFAO at Truth. The Alabama fan using the N word is not only an idiot, he’s a racist idiot. His racist ranting about black football players in no way shape or form equals a college football coach spreading (non-racist) enthusiasm among his players and recruits. Yea we paid our coaches millions and one of the reasons we did is so they can steal committments from your staff like J. James. You are a typical Bammer idiot.


September 29th, 2009
3:36 pm

I am actually a Gator Paul C. So, Kiffin gets credit for not getting BLOWN out by Florida. Is that what UT’s football program is reduced to….. woohoo, we are losers but we aren’t losing by much. What a joke. Welcome to the cellar UT. You guys will get beat by Auburn this weekend and then where will you be?

richard cranium

September 29th, 2009
3:37 pm

No slant here…Pfftt – Maybe Chip can sign the kid himself.

“So, I hear UGA is recruiting you hard.” Yes sir, call me everyday.

“UGA coaches are awesome aren’t they?” Well, they seem to be nice.

“You went to UGA game – wasn’t that great?” Yes sir.

“Other schools are calling, but you don’t like them, right??
Uhh.Well.. I’m not that far along yet.

“So, when can we count on your committment to UGA?? Ummmm.

what its worth

September 29th, 2009
3:39 pm

I know this will not make a difference to high school senoir beacuse it did not make a difference to me back then, but….you look at Tech and you know they are not going to cut you any slack in the classroom and you think, why would I go there and have to actually go to school instead of going to UGA, Fl, or AL where I will be a star for four years. But what you dont understand is that college will be over in 4 or 5 years and maybe you will go to the NFL, but maybe you wont…and the odds are that even if you do make it to the NFL you will not make enough money to retire…so here is what I really need to tell you. You need to think about what happens when football is over, the day its over you will be cut off…there will be no scholorship, no training table, no free tickets, as a matter of fact they will be calling you asking for donations. If your lucky you will have 40 or 50 years after you graduate to work. You will get respect with a degree from GA, Fl, or Al but not nearly as much as you will get with one from GT. Not a day goes by that I do not thank Ray Goff for guiding me towards the Georgia Institute of Technology. Good luck young man.


September 29th, 2009
3:46 pm

Where will we be when we lose to Auburn?? Answer: 2-3 and struggling during a rebuilding year brought on by the ineptitude of Phil Fulmer, that’s where. And that’s where we’ll be for another year or two until CLK gets HIS players on the field. You know, the players who constituted a top ten class last year and currently a top 5 class. Yea, Kiffin sure is an idiot, let me tell ya.


September 29th, 2009
3:53 pm

God how i wish i could replay your comments four years from now. Sure talent helps but a coaching staff makes or breaks the team. Look at Orgeron, he had all kinds of talent at Ole Miss and couldn’t do bupkus with it. Fullmer had all kinds of talent when he left but you guys fired him. (A mistake that will haunt you guys). Seriously, you guys suck and your loudmouthed schoolboy coach, his ogre recruiting coordinator, and the hairpiece wearing Monte (seriously, how long will he be living anyway?) are going to suck four years from now too.


September 29th, 2009
3:56 pm

CLK and UT subscribing to the modern day definition of celebrity….”All talk and hype and whatever media exposure we can get, but there ain’t nothing behind the facade.” Except losses that is. Joke, Joke, Joke.

Come back when your team wins one game in the SEC besides Vandy or UK.


September 29th, 2009
4:10 pm

Yea, our coaches haven’t proved their worth anywhere they’ve been, have they? God you’re stupid. And probably racist too since you took up for the racist Bama fan on YouTube. Meanwhile Lane Kiffin is still attracting top flight recruits to Tennessee like JaWuan James. Have fun without Tebow, you have nowhere to go but down.

Dawg 1

September 29th, 2009
4:12 pm

Alabama/UT folks need to get a life. If you think this is Homer Journalism; then check out the Knoxville and Birmingham Paper.

LSU is next(for Florida)

September 29th, 2009
4:12 pm

Go to Florida son, maybe Tennessee as Georgia will be watching the National Title Game on T.V. for your years in college. Go with the winners not a team that is a quote “rival” with Florida when the record stands since 1990- Florida-16 wins, Georgia-3 wins. ???????? Thankyou state of Georgia for sending us Martin Luther King’s star player Mack Brown down to us next year, that is a boy who knows where the winners are.