- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
Clemson offered Alec James (Brookfield, Wisc./Brookfield East) on Tuesday, forcing him to turn his top three into a top four.
The junior defensive end had been hoping for an offer from the Tigers for almost a year now.
“In the beginning of my [junior] football season I made a list of schools to try and get offers to, and Clemson was on it,” James said. “So it was good to get one from them.”
At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, James says his biggest strength is his speed and quickness off the ball, and he feels like that would be a perfect fit at a program such as Clemson.
“Just because all the speed they have,” James said when asked why the Tigers are one of his favorites despite just offering. “It seems like a really fast school. I like how they play with all that speed. It’s like all the SEC teams.”
The Tigers enter a leaderboard that also consists of Michigan State, Notre Dame and Wisconsin. James has yet to visit Clemson, but he was at nearby Wisconsin this past weekend.
Roughly an hour away from the Wisconsin campus, James estimates his most recent visit this past weekend was his sixth or seventh over the last few years. He has already seen a lot of what Wisconsin has to offer, but on this trip he met with the strength coach and was impressed.
He also had a chance to sit down with David Gilbert, a redshirt junior and fellow defensive end at Wisconsin.
“He talked to me about how when you think of Wisconsin, you think of huge linemen, but he’s only 250 pounds but he’s fast and still plays,” James said. “He’s telling me how the past four or five defensive ends, they have been 250 pounds. With my frame I’d be around 250. It was nice talking to him and letting me know it’s not just huge, big, slower players.”
James also made a visit to Michigan State for a spring practice recently.
“I like their mentality of going to work,” James said. “… I got to sit down with William Gholston, and he told me how much he liked it. It’s a pretty good environment.
“I also watched their practice, and it was very physical.”
Much like this past weekend’s trip to Wisconsin, James’ visit to Notre Dame came for the Fighting Irish’s spring game. He said it was pretty cool to see and hear about the history, but it was a former Irish defensive end and a future Notre Dame dad that impressed him most.
“While I was there I met David Robinson and Justin Tuck,” James said laughing. “It was cool seeing two celebrities.”
James and Tuck spoke for only a “quick minute,” but it was long enough for Tuck to give James his recruiting pitch.
“He asked me what other schools are recruiting me and I said Wisconsin and Michigan State and he told me they could beat them,” James said. “He was talking up Notre Dame a little bit.”
Originally, James hoped to have a decision by July, but that is no longer the case. For now he is just focusing on his track season and getting stronger in the weight room. With added strength, James said that, coupled with his speed, will be “deadly” for opposing tackles.
Programs may have to wait until the season, though, to see which team he will be terrorizing tackles for.
“I just know when I commit it’ll be when I’m ready,” he said. “If it comes down to taking official visits then I will, but when I make my verbal I’m going to stick with it.”
13dEdward Aschoff and Greg Ostendorf