- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
For the last several months, three teams have stood out to four-star defensive end Alec James (Brookfield, Wisc./Brookfield East). Now, those teams are starting to separate from each other.
Michigan State, Notre Dame and Wisconsin were always at the top of James’ list, and he recently visited all three.
“I’d say Wisconsin is probably a little ahead of Michigan State for Nos. 1 and 2, and Notre Dame is probably third,” James said.
His latest visit went to Wisconsin, which he took last week. While there, he sat down with defensive line coach Charlie Partridge and strength coach Ben Herbert.
At 6-foot-3 and 219 pounds, James is a little on the lighter side, and he was concerned he did not fit into Wisconsin’s stereotypical big-man lineman mold. However, Partridge eased those concerns for him.
“I would play defensive end and my main concern is I’m not going to be 300 pounds,” James said. “Usually with Wisconsin it’s bigger guys. One of the main things they’re telling me is their last three or four guys at my position have been around 250, so I could play that position.”
He also visited Notre Dame last week, and the Fighting Irish like him at outside linebacker in their 3-4 scheme. James visited the Irish before, but it was the first time his mother joined him.
“She liked it a lot,” James said. “She liked the fact it was so solid academically and a beautiful campus. Going into it she didn’t want to go there and visit. … I think she’s never been a Notre Dame fan. I’m not sure. I think she’s just getting tired of driving me around.
“Leaving, she enjoyed (the visit).”
The Spartans received James’ first visit this month. It was his second time there, and he wanted to make sure the visit stayed etched in his mind for more than a few days. So, James took notes while on his trip to remember just exactly how Michigan State is.
“Being from Wisconsin, once you get back here it’s all Wisconsin and nothing else,” he said. “Going up there and seeing everything and writing it down helped remember.
"The coaching staff is such a family-style coaching staff. They really care about their players. It’s a real inviting environment I would say.”
James said he will go to Alabama’s camp July 15-18 and will make a decision shortly after. He still plans to take official visits during the season, though.