It wasn’t an official visit to Georgia this past weekend for JaWuan James but it was about as close as you could get without it actually being one.
The coveted offensive tackle from North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee spent all day and all night Saturday and part of the day Sunday in Athens. As it turns out, he has become pretty good friends with Chris Burnette, a freshman offensive lineman from LaGrange who is being redshirted by the Bulldogs this season. James crashed Saturday night in Burnette’s dormitory room after hanging out with him and several other players after the game.
“He’s a real good guy and we get along well,” James said of Burnette. Like James, Burnette is a high academic achiever and was a salutatorian for his senior class. James is on track to graduate at the end of this semester and will enroll in the college of his choice in January.
As for the actual visit, James said, “It was fun. I had a great time. I watched the game, which was exciting. The atmosphere was fun and exciting. It was good to hang out with the players after the game. I really enjoyed that. They were a super group and treated me nice even though they weren’t happy about the way the game went.”
As I reported Monday, James said the outcome of the LSU game — just like the outcomes of any of the other games he has attended and will attend — won’t influence James’ final decision on a college choice.
“It doesn’t have an effect at all,” said James, a one-time Alabama commitment. “I’m just looking at the campus and getting back in touch with the coaches in person. I’m trying interact with the players and other recruits. It was an exciting game overall and the atmosphere was great. But who won or lost wasn’t a factor.”
If anything James was intrigued to see how the Bulldogs handled the loss. He was in the Georgia locker room after the game.
“I was listening to what Coach [Mark] Richt said to the team after the game,” James said. “He was telling them ‘we’ve still got a chance to win the East and that’s what we need to focus on.’ I thought that was interesting. I was impressed with the way they handled it because it was a really tough loss. I think they handled it as well as could be expected.”
It was James’ second visit to Sanford Stadium this fall — he also came for Arizona State last weekend — and might not be his last. He said Richt still wants him to come back for an official visit.
“Coach Richt has asked me to so we’re going to see if we can get it done,” James said. “He thinks it’d be a good idea.”
But the battle for James is far from over. He’ll be in Knoxville next weekend for the Tennessee-Georgia game as an official visitor for the Vols. He and teammate Justin Dickens will travel to Los Angeles the next week on an official visit to UCLA. Meanwhile, he claims he hasn’t completely shut the door on Alabama.
James admits his head is swimming a little bit right now.
“It can be tough but I’m dealing with it pretty well,” James said. “I’m really just trying to take it all in without it being a distraction for my team. My main focus is try to help my school win a state championship.”