Two years ago, Matt James didn’t think college football was in the picture.
The Coeur d’Alene lineman thought he was too lean at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds. Two inches and some 50 pounds later and it’s no wonder he ended up with a baker’s dozen worth of offers.
While his increased size certainly attracted recruiting interest, his body of work, including the classroom, was just as impressive. He sports a 4.03 grade-point average.
He’s been a two-way starter on the offensive and defensive lines for coach Shawn Amos, and he’s been a three-year starter on offense.
“As I’ve told college coaches, he’s the kind of kid you want dating your daughter but you don’t want your son to line up against him,” Amos said. “He plays with an edge.”
And James knows when to turn it on and off. Off the field he’s as quiet as a church mouse. On the field, it’s advisable to get out of his path.
“He could play all the time,” Amos said. “He’s as good for us on offense and defense. He’s a difference maker on both sides of the ball. He changes the schemes of the game wherever he’s playing.”
James comes from a football family. His father played at Carroll College. His older brother, Josh, a redshirt sophomore, will start for a second straight year at Carroll, which is traditionally one of the top NAIA teams in the nation.
Matt James hopes he’s not done growing. His brother is 6-6 and 305.
James wants to follow his father, a gastrologist, into the medical field. That’s one of the reasons he accepted an offer to play at the University of Washington. The Seattle school’s biomedical program is among the top 10 in the nation.
James’ other athletic love is wrestling. He placed third at state at heavyweight last year and fifth in his first year in the sport as a sophomore. He’s shooting for a state championship this year.
He will anchor an offensive line that will be key to blocking for a skilled backfield and wide receiver corp.
James is a quiet leader. Few work harder than him. School janitors often have had to kick him out of the weight room long after the required coaching supervision had left.
He started on CdA’s last state title team, and the Vikings are seeking a third state title in the last four years and a fourth consecutive trip to the final.
“The whole team is very driven,” James said. “It was tough last year seeing those seniors after the title game. I was really close to them. It was hard not winning it for them. It’s a feeling I don’t want again.”
The key, James stresses, is staying the course in a year when CdA will tackle it’s most difficult schedule ever.
“We just have to keep working and keep grinding and things will work out the way they’re supposed to,” James said.