Ja'Wuan James, Scout.com four-star offensive tackle from Suwanee-North Gwinnett, Ga., has committed…
Scout's Take: JaWuan James
The first time I saw JaWuan James (North Gwinnett-GA) line up at left tackle, I thought he was about to have a long night. He was facing DE Brandon Willis (Byrnes-SC), but at least it wasn't on every play, as the Bulldogs could dictate where Willis would line up. But there was a problem. The other DE was Corey Miller. We would learn a lot about James that night... Rusty Mansell and I were at the Progressive Insurance Classic, and we were looking forward to seeing some of the big-time talent that we had already heard of--Mikey Tamburo and Cordero Dixon from North, and Marcus Lattimore, Justin Bright and the two aforementioned bookends. So, imagine our surprise when we see this 6-6 285 pound, athletic-looking cat line up at LT. Again, he certainly looked the part, but one look at the dynamic duo (Miller and Willis) lining up across from him, and we couldn't shake the feelings of uneasiness. Needless to say those feelings didn't last long at all. James was holding his own against the Ends on base blocks, and was pass-setting/protecting with relative ease. We came away from that night amazed...amazed that a Game 1 JR was able to carry that size, yet have such a tight core and such good feet; that a relatively young OL could compete at the highest level (against two of the better DL in the country), at times dominate and appear to be so polished. It is no secret that Nick Saban and Company have the recruiting machine rolling at the University of Alabama, and this latest coup is reminder that there are no plans for slowing down anytime soon. I have watched the North Gwinnett/Byrnes game a total of seven times, and I come away each time even more amazed with James. Below is a breakdown of the latest to pledge to the Crimson Tide. Pros Feet--The first thing college coaches and professional scouts look for in a Left Tackle is good feet. LTs must be able to move/slide in order to protect a QB's blindside, and James does this both naturally and with ease. He gains depth with his initial kick step and rarely is he off balance. His steps are measured and he doesn't lunge, thus not making himself susceptible to a bull-rush or swim...or counter-moves. Length--What may appear to be a con for a player as young as James (as he has a lot of room for physical growth) is actually a plus. He at times has good hand placement and uses his length to take away the edge from speed rushers. Physical Upside--While James has a tight core for his position and age, he still has a tremendous amount of room for growth. Already standing 6'6 and weighing close to 285, he will more than likely top out around 315-330 and will be an absolute force at Left Tackle. Cons Strength--James has good natural strength, but he must improve on his upper-body. His long arms make it tough to get a good punch (hand placement), as well as maintain leverage. Aggressiveness--I'll have to admit that I haven't really had a chance to see James in action since the Byrnes game, which was Game #1 of his JR year. At that point, he was smooth, had very good feet and generally looked to be in control of his body. What appeared to be missing was an element of nastiness and a desire to finish whomever it was that he was blocking. I would imagine that he has matured plenty since then...not to mention the fact that Coach Saban and Alabama are not going to take an OL that won't fit in with their aggressive, run-first offense. Final Analysis--James is a huge pickup, not only because of the obvious (measurables, etc.), but also because of the fact that he is one of the most skilled OL that I have seen in some time. He has few flaws and no apparent bad habits, so the coaches at Alabama won't have to spend a lot of time deprogramming him. Additionally, once the 'Bama S+C Program gets him for a year, he will be an absolute monster. This will give the Tide an anchor for three good years.
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