Taking the opportunity of a lifetime to announce his collegiate decision on national television, Andre James made a whole lot of UCLA fans pump their fists on Thursday.
ESPN College Football had the news:
James gave his verbal commitment to the UCLA Bruins on ESPNU as part of Nike's The Opening camp in Oregon. A 4-star offensive tackle prospect out of Herriman High School in Utah, James chose UCLA over Oregon, USC, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Utah.
His recruitment has been up in the air throughout the process. When James announced he would verbally commit at The Opening, 247Sports' Crystal Ball predictor had Oregon as a slight favorite over USC. By the time Thursday rolled around, momentum had clearly swung away from the Ducks and toward UCLA.
The Bruins had been recruiting him for much of the process, and he indicated in a June visit to Los Angeles that Jim Mora and Co.'s persistence was a factor.
"I'd say [USC] has some making up to do, they haven't been recruiting me as long," James told Lindsey Thiry of Scout.com. "UCLA was the second school who ever offered me, so I have had a great relationship with UCLA for a very long time."
Because he is a Class of 2015 recruit, the spurned schools still have plenty of time to sway James' answer. His verbal commitment does not lock him into UCLA, but merely acts as a preserver for his scholarship. James can decommit anytime between now and national signing day without suffering an NCAA penalty.
Listed as the No. 18 tackle in the country by 247Sports' composite rankings, UCLA hopes the next year only affirms his desire to play in Los Angeles. James has a unique combination of size (6'5", 275 lbs) and athleticism, showing a quick first step off the line and ability to quickly adjust his footwork when needed.
While 275 pounds is not ideal for Pac-12 competition, his frame should allow him to bulk up without much problem. If he's able to add 10 or 15 pounds by next fall, there's little reason to think he can't compete for playing time as a freshman. James is a two-way player who should be a weapon against the run and pass.
Of course, all of this is speculative. James still has his senior season to go, during which anything could happen. He might vault up recruiting rankings and suddenly get the likes of Alabama knocking down his door, sending a monkey wrench into his recruitment. Though less likely, things could also go the opposite direction.
Either way, Thursday was one of celebration for one of 2015's best young linemen and UCLA alumni and fans everywhere.
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