Jamel James: Irish were 'always there'

Some considered Notre Dame a dark horse to land four-star running Jamel James (Katy, Texas/Cinco Ranch). On Saturday, Notre Dame went from being a dark horse to the future home for the ESPN 300, four-star running back.

James gave his verbal commitment to Notre Dame and became the first running back recruited in the Fighting Irish’s 2013 class, the 18th overall recruit. It was a decision made by James despite not visiting the campus. It also was a decision made despite the fact James originally had schools such as Florida State, West Virginia, Clemson, LSU, Texas Tech and Arkansas – the program he once committed to but decommitted from in April – higher on his radar.

What made Notre Dame a major player? James told Irish Sports Daily that it was Notre Dame’s football tradition, the opportunity to get a good education and, most importantly, the sincerity of his primary recruiting contact, co-defensive coordinator Kerry Cooks, that won him over.

“Coach Cooks and I had been talking for a while, ever since spring football started,” James said. “I’ve just been really thinking about where I wanted to go and Notre Dame has always been there, sitting there waiting. I finally came around to realizing that’s where I need to go.”

A 5-foot-11, 220-pound bull in the backfield, James decommitted from Arkansas following the firing of coach Bobby Petrino. James visited Florida State two weeks ago and enjoyed the experience, but Notre Dame ultimately won him over. He is expected to take an official visit to Notre Dame in September, when the Fighting Irish play host to Michigan in a nationally televised game.

“I’m 100 percent committed,” James said. “I’m taking every one of my visits to Notre Dame.”

James, ranked No. 226 in the ESPN 300, has rushed for nearly 2,700 yards and 36 touchdowns throughout his high school career. He had 1,011 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior. James is ranked No. 20 nationally among running backs and No. 29 among players in the state of Texas in the 2013 class.