Having been a Miami Hurricanes fan since 1984, I have always taken pride in how many players from the program have made it to the NFL and made a significant impact. Recently, the stream of players has slowed quite a bit, but one diamond in the rough who I think, if given the chance, will not only make an NFL roster but could be a star, is Mike James.
James has that middle- to late-round star running back written all over him. His college stats compare quite nicely with another late-round pick, Terrell Davis. You need only to look at guys like Adrian Foster, Alfred Morris and BenJarvus Green-Ellis to know you can find a franchise back at any time in the draft or after it. The thing about Mike James, to go with his athletic ability, is the character and wisdom of someone much more seasoned than a college senior. Any NFL team looking for a talented high-character running back needs to look no further than Mike James from the University of Miami.
What are your official height, weight, bench and speed?
Mike James: I am 5-11.5 and roughly 222 pounds. I run a low 4.5. Last time I benched, I did 225 pounds 28 times.
What other school recruited you besides Miami?
MJ: I got offers from a lot of schools including Florida State, USF, all the Big East schools, every school in the ACC except North Carolina and North Carolina State. I also got an offer from Notre Dame.
Tell me a little about your work that allowed you to be nominated for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team?
MJ: I enjoy doing community work such as volunteering for Empowered Youth, project manager for the 2012 University of Miami Bone Marrow Drive and serving meals to the homeless, anything to help others in challenging situations. I was just doing what I usually did before playing at Miami. I grew up in a tough situation, but no matter what, you can always help others, as someone always has it worse.
As the two-year anniversary of your mother’s passing just happened, I have to ask where you found the strength to play in the bowl game that year against Notre Dame 11 days after the accident.
MJ: Playing in the bowl game was the toughest thing I ever did, but being on the field with my teammates eased my mind. I did not want the last image I had for the year, to be my mom laying there after the accident. I just felt I needed to be on the field with my guys and make my mother and family proud.
How challenging have the past two seasons been at Miami? Did you ever regret your decision to go to Miami?
MJ: Crazy, challenging and unreal happiness, but I don’t regret anything about my time at Miami. I didn’t share that I suffered from turf toe my junior year, as I wasn’t looking for pity and knew with a coaching change I needed to stay on the field.
What was the biggest adjustment between Coach Al Golden and Coach Randy Shannon?
MJ: Attitude. Coach Shannon and Coach Golden have very different styles and very different demeanors. I was brought in by Coach Shannon so I was technically his guy, but Coach Golden has been great too. I’ve learned a lot from both men and can never thank them enough.
What are your feelings of playing special teams?
MJ: I love playing special teams. I love dominating the guy in front of me. I just want to be on the field whether it is as a fullback, tailback or special teams.
Who has been the best player you faced during your football career either at Miami or as an opponent?
MJ: Best opponent was Marvin Austin at North Carolina, and the best player I knew as a teammate was Sean Spence (currently with the Pittsburgh Steelers). Sean really packed a punch and is a special talent.
What is something an NFL scout or coach couldn’t learn about you by just watching game film?
MJ: I consider myself an intelligent player who loves to break plays down to learn the inside and out of the play. I often laminate plays to have them with me to study.
With no bowl game to show your skills one last time, what are you doing to stay in shape in preparation for the April draft?
MJ: Working out every day. Some all-star games like the East/West Shrine and the Raycom College Football All-Star Classic.
Who has been the biggest influence on your football career?
MJ: My mom was the reason I played. She wanted me involved in sports, so I played for her.
If a scout, coach and general manager wanted to see Mike James at his best at Miami, what game film would you give them?
MJ: The games from my senior year would be the Georgia Tech, Florida State or the North Carolina game.
Complete this sentence: When Mike James was a kid I pretended to be _________ when I played football with my family and friends.
MJ: Emmitt Smith and Terrell Davis
After your football career is complete where do you see yourself career-wise?
MJ: Right now I am working as a marketing intern for the Miami Dolphins and working on my masters. I can see myself in the world of sports in some capacity.
If you could have dinner with any three people, who would they be?
MJ: Vince Lombardi, as he had the mind of a winner; JFK, just to pick his brain; and Martin Luther King, as he was such a great leader but without any violence.
Describe yourself in a few words.
MJ: Loyal, tough, honest and charismatic.
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