Room for a Return Specialist?
Brandon James stars at Florida
Brandon James stars at Florida
Director of Scouting
Posted Nov 13, 2007


Two years ago Brandon James of St. Augustine High School was signed by the Florida Gators to fill a limited role, a return specialist. Two years later, the Gator coaching staff look like geniuses for signing the 5-6 dynamo. With a similar player in Miami Central's Lamar Vernon, my question is, should other teams follow the Gators' lead?

Two years ago Brandon James of St. Augustine High School was signed by the Florida Gators to fill a limited role, a return specialist. Two years later, the Gator coaching staff look like geniuses for signing the 5-6 dynamo. With a similar player in Miami Central's Lamar Vernon, my question is, should other teams follow the Gators' lead?

At 5-6, Brandon James was deemed too small to be an every down back, but with his speed and production on the high school level, he garnered several scholarship offers. His only offer amongst the "big 3" in Florida though was as a return specialist for the Florida Gators.

James currently ranks third in the country in punt returns and 11th in the country in kickoff returns with whopping averages of and 18.7 and 29 respectively. Those numbers alone make his scholarship to Florida more than worth while, but he has also contributed as a running back. He is the team's fourth leading rusher.

Several teams and Scouts alike learned a lesson on James' recruitment, that a player like James can be very valuable to a team's overall success.

Fast forward to 2007, and while I was watching Lamar Vernon of Miami Central, I couldn't help but be reminded of James as a high school star at St. Augustine. Great production (Vernon averages nearly 10 yards a carry), terrific speed and balance, but he's small, generously listed at 5-8.

I feel James has opened to door for a player like Vernon. Several teams passed on James and have regretted it ever since. Here is a second chance to get a player that might not be a 25 carry a game back, but can flip the field on special teams and provide the occasional game changing play.

Vernon had a big night against Killian, showing off his speed and ability.
Watch Video*

Here is Brandon James as a senior at St. Augustine:
Watch Video

I see a lot of similarities.

*Video is included with your Total Access Pass Subscription. Just click the link and pick your team to get started.



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RB Brandon James (profile)
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