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Jamel James joins the 2013 recruiting class

Jul 29, 2012, 2:39 PM EDT

Jamel James

Notre Dame fans received a pleasant surprise yesterday with the news running back Jamel James committed to the Irish. The 5-foot-11, 220-pound running back from Katy, Texas picked the Irish over offers from LSU, USC, Florida State, West Virginia, and Arkansas, where he was once a verbal commit.

James, who has yet to see the Notre Dame campus, is the Irish’s 18th commitment to the 2013 recruiting class and is a much needed running back commitment.

Pete Sampson of got the quote of record from James, who took a mature approach to his recruitment after backing away from Arkansas when head coach Bobby Petrino was fired.

“It was good being committed to Arkansas and everything was set and I felt good about it,” James told Sampson. “Once things happened with coach Petrino, I realized I was only excited about it because of who was the head coach. I wasn’t committed to the school or the academics.

“When I started looking at schools again that’s when I first started thinking about Notre Dame. I liked the coaches a lot, but I wanted it to be about the school first.”

Rarely does a recruiting commitment come out of the blue like this, but James’ commitment is similar to another Texas product now on the Irish roster: cornerback Jalen Brown. Brown pledged his commitment to the Irish almost a year ago to the day, also choosing Notre Dame without ever stepping foot in South Bend.

A quick look at James’ highlights and you see a big, bruising runner that also possesses some breakaway speed. Donning the jersey number six, it’s hard not to think of Jerome Bettis, another big-bodied back that put together a pretty decent career in South Bend.

Projecting James into the running back depth chart gives you an idea of the type of talent Brian Kelly and his staff are collecting for the backfield. Here’s what the position grouping will look like in 2013:

Cierre Wood, 5th year
Cam Roberson, Sr.
George Atkinson, Jr.
Amir Carlisle, Jr.
Will Mahone, Soph.
KeiVarae Russell, Soph.
Jamel James, Fr.

Wood coming back for a final season is by no means a lock, but looking at the runners that Kelly has recruited, you start to see a thunder and lightning situation building. James, who looks a legit 220 pounds already, will certainly give the backfield some power, joining Will Mahone in that category, while players like Amir Carlisle and KeiVarae Russell fill the role of a runner that could just as easily play in the slot.

James plans to take an official visit for the Michigan game.


  1. nudeman - Jul 29, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Love the big, bruising type runner who can pound out 1st downs and take time off the clock in the 4th quarter
    Ray Zellars, Bettis, Robert Hughes

    Reading the Premium stuff on the other board, James could be a total steal.
    Had a disappointing jr. year but the light has gone on and he’s in better shape now. Still, even with the down year, he’s ranked as the 83rd best player in TX
    And ahead of Elmer and McGovern on Rivals or ESPN. Can’t remember which.

    Possible/probable he could have a booming senior season and get a 4th star
    But if that happens, this recruitment might be a long way from done.

    To be continued ………

    • dmac4real - Jul 29, 2012 at 5:42 PM

      Rivals must have him criminally underrated, so Idk how seriously id take that. Hes a top 250 player on every other site, then Rivals puts him real low. Anyhow, he looks a lot like Jonas Gray, big, but fast.

      • bernhtp - Jul 29, 2012 at 8:13 PM

        Jamel might be a steal, but Rivals might also be the correct evaluation. After all, where are the offers from U Texas and Texas A&M? He plays right in their backyard and they don’t appear to be even recruiting him. If he has a huge senior year, this will change and we will have a fight on our hands. I would love to be a big believer that he is both great and will come, but I’m still a bit skeptical.

      • bernhtp - Jul 29, 2012 at 11:01 PM

        Jonas was an elite-rated back. #4 RB on Rivals in his class. The only one on the ND roster now in that rarefied air is Amir Carlisle.

        Maybe Jamel will get there with an amazing season this fall, but he has a long ways to go.

      • andy44teg - Jul 30, 2012 at 12:45 PM

        Bern, You’re WAY over-thinking things here. He’s got offers from Arkansas, FSU, Houston (UHOH!) LSU, Texas Tech, USC, and West Virginia. I could give a rip about offers from Texas and A&M with an offer sheet like that!

      • andy44teg - Jul 30, 2012 at 12:51 PM

        By the way he’s got a max bench of 315 and runs a 4.45 forty. Unless he’s some kind of mental patient, I’m not too worried about how good this kid can be.

      • bernhtp - Jul 30, 2012 at 12:59 PM


        Maybe so, but it’s been a very long time since we landed a recruit from Texas that had offers from UT. I think Kapron Lewis-Moore was the last one, and he’s in his fifth year. We used to get a fair number of elite recruits from Texas (e.g., TIm Brown), but recently have only been getting the UT leftovers.

        I think that Jamel has elite potential with his size and speed. I would love to see him show the heart and on-field performance to match.

        If he does have a monster season and gets heavily recruited by UT and A&M, do you think he’ll still go Irish?

    • bernhtp - Jul 29, 2012 at 9:44 PM

      This bothers me some: “… who plans to study sports medicine and physical therapy.”

      Not at Notre Dame. I wonder how much he really knows about ND? He needs to do a visit, maybe even before the official if he can.

    • brazilianirish - Jul 29, 2012 at 9:45 PM

      Agree. He looks more like a fullback. And I appreciate a good one in the game. Think he is not a simple “next guy in” waiting in Kelly´s Spread Offense… We´ll see in a couple of years…

  2. mtflsmitty - Jul 29, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    Being a transplanted Hoosier living in TX now for 10+ years, I’m still amazed at the scale of HS football down here and the development of kids from elementary through middle and onward into HS. Katy is a legit contender for the 5A state championship every year and their kids receive strong fundamental coaching throughout their development. His film looks good. But I suspect we’ll also be getting a well-developed player with good fundamentals that don’t show in his tape. I will see James play at Reliant Stadium as Katy is facing our HS in the season opener. Adds a whole new level of interest to that game.

  3. mtflsmitty - Jul 29, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    As an aside, Chris Stewart, now with Phoenix, is a local guy who’s lil bro plays on my son’s pee wee team. Talking to his dad recently he told me Chris committed to ND without ever having been to SB. He joked that if Chris ever knew how cold it gets he’d have more seriously considered his B12 and SEC offers.

    So while having not visited campus concerns me a bit, maybe it has it’s benefits too.

    • rat77 - Jul 30, 2012 at 6:56 PM

      Not being disrespectful mtflsmitty but this is incorrect. I talked with Chris at a fifth quarter party the night before his visit to ND. (My son played with Chris on the line at Klein. Sounds like you’re a Klein guy too.) He had not made his decision at that time but was very excited to visit, I believe for the Michigan game. Chris is a great kid and we’re incredibly proud of his success at ND and making the roster at Phoenix.

  4. mtflsmitty - Jul 29, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    1. Ahhh Cinco Ranch. Not Katy HS.
    2. Look like some very solid OL talent working for him. Maybe some ’14 talent.

  5. don74 - Jul 29, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    Did I read somewhere that he is LeBron’s cousin?

    • don74 - Jul 29, 2012 at 9:42 PM

      there was a reference on @jdubs88 that he is cousin of LBJ.

    • dudeacow - Nov 6, 2012 at 5:53 PM

      When Urban Meyer was here he actually offered LeBron to come to ND as a WR. Couldn’t get him, but we got his cousin!

  6. jaz1675 - Jul 30, 2012 at 7:43 AM

    Cinco Ranch is in Katy, and a pretty good Football school, and one the best public schools in the Houston area. Living in the area I hope to be able to make it out to a couple of their games to get a first hand perspective on how good he really is. The level of competition he plays against is certainly high enough to get an honest evaluation. On a side note my nephew’s football team plays against Corey Robinson team, so I am also hoping to get a look at him and see how good he really is.

  7. gtizzo - Jul 30, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Maybe the Irish should go to the triple option. I know it isn’t BK style but consider this:

    – With James and Mahone ND has two backs that could be the up the middle runner need to make the triple option work.

    – Russell, Carlisle, Atkinson are more speed backs for going to the outside. BK could also put Devonte Neal at tailback as a speed back.

    – Zaire ran the option in High School and current Irish QB’s Golson and Hendrix could also run the offense.

    – BK has recruited 5 offensive lineman in 2 of his 3 recruiting classes.

    Will the Irish switch…I doubt it. You can’t argue they could certainly make it work. An option offense is one of the toughest to defend. Just a thought.

    • nudeman - Jul 30, 2012 at 12:38 PM

      “Maybe the Irish should go to the triple option”

      And maybe they shouldn’t

      There just might be a reason why no one not named “Navy” or Air Force” runs it today
      An unimaginably bad idea

      • andy44teg - Jul 30, 2012 at 2:18 PM

        Nice double-negative there, nude. So, everyone runs the triple option?? Just messin’ w/ ya….but I do think one of the reasons why NO ONE NAMED Navy or Air Force run it today is b/c nowaydays, everybody who plays D-1 Football wants to go to the best school to prepare them for the NFL. It would be pretty tough to get the elite talent needed to compete at a high level running the triple option. I do believe it was pretty succesful as late as 2001 with Nebraska having Eric Crouch winning the Heisman and losing to Miami in the Championship. I just think every kid who has the talent to play D-1 football thinks they’re going to make it to the NFL so they want to play a Pro-Style offense.

      • nudeman - Jul 30, 2012 at 4:10 PM

        Read it again Andy. I’ve got it correct.
        If you are NOT named Navy or AF, you don’t run it.

      • gtizzo - Jul 30, 2012 at 7:28 PM

        The triple is hard to defend. Navy gave S. Carolina all they could handle and Air Force almost beat Oklahoma. Georgia Tech also ran the option for a while. The option itself was also a large part of LSU offense last season and was part of the Florida offense when Tebow played. ND has access to better talent then Air Force or Navy and with top notch tight ends really could make it work. Football is a results driven enterprise the fact nobody is doing it is hardly a good reason.

      • gtizzo - Jul 30, 2012 at 7:57 PM

        Thought you would be on my side Nude,

        An offense Tommy Rees can’t run that sounds like heaven from your stand point.

        • nudeman - Jul 31, 2012 at 1:20 PM

          “An offense TR can’t run”. Wouldn’t that pretty much be EVERY offense?

  8. andy44teg - Jul 30, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    I respectfully disagree

  9. andy44teg - Jul 30, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    At the risk of sounding like the biggest nerd I’ve ever known, I’m going to engage you, here. If you would’ve said “no one named” or anyone not named” that would’ve worked. But “no one not named” is a double negative.

  10. ttirish - Jul 30, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    a 3rd and 3 kind of back, just what the offense needs. It’s getting the other 7 yds. that’s the problem. Football has changed and the big muscle running game only seems to work in Wisconsin. Why is that? I’m old school and a left coaster who goes to many ND game. We need to beat Michigan and USC in the same year. Period. tt

  11. fnc111 - Jul 31, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    Jalen Brown committed two years ago. He was on campus practicing at this time last year as a freshmen.

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