The Hurry-Up: Nick James Breaks Down Why Ohio State Made Final List, Feels Like a Buckeye Priority at Defensive Tackle

By Zack Carpenter on March 21, 2021 at 6:30 pm
Nick James

The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

James breaks down why OSU made final list

It’s no secret that one of Ohio State’s most dire positions of need is defensive tackle in this 2022 cycle. The Buckeyes will be losing quite a bit following the 2021 season, and they will need to bring in at least two prospects in this class to bolster a position that will lose guys like Haskell Garrett, Jerron Cage and Antwuan Jackson after this year.

That’s why Ohio State brought in a nose tackle (Tyleik Williams) and a 3-tech (Mike Hall) in the 2021 haul and still has a versatile, ultra-talented piece (J.T. Tuimoloau) who may join them.

In 2022, Indiana four-star Caden Curry is the clear-cut No. 1 target at defensive tackle, and he has the versatility to play both the 3-tech or potentially wind up as an edge rusher. He’ll likely remain on the interior, though that remains to be seen.

That DT list is followed by guys we’ve talked about plenty (e.g. Christen Miller, Walter Nolen), but there is another who we’ve only touched on in the past.

That’s four-star prospect Nick James, the No. 201 overall prospect and No. 14 DT out of Florida’s IMG Academy where he is the state’s 24th-ranked prospect in the 2022 class. (On 247Sports’ lone metrics, James is ranked higher at No. 138 overall, No. 11 DT and No. 15 in Florida.)

James, a 6-foot-2, 270-pounder, released a top-12 list last weekend, and the contingent has Ohio State going up against Alabama, Georgia, Florida, USC, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Penn State, Arizona, Texas A&M and UCF.

He broke down a few of those schools that we prompted him on:

  • Ohio State – “First of all, you can just see what he’s doing as a coach and what they’re doing as a program. Every year they have the top defensive linemen in the NFL. When he offered me, it was really a blessing because I could see myself being able to play there, too.”
  • Alabama  – “Bama made that list because I’ve got a good relationship with them, but being from Alabama that’s like the hometown school almost. Plus, they’re one of the best programs in the country so I think it was a no-doubter to put that on there. I’m from about five minutes north of Montgomery.”
  • Georgia – “I have a great relationship with Coach (Tray) Scott at Georgia and then a couple players just went there last year.”
  • Florida – “I’m in Florida so that’s (self-explanatory) and then I have a great relationship with Coach (David) Turner, Coach (Dan) Mullen and Coach (Todd) Grantham.”
  • USC – “It’s crazy because it’s not (an outlier). Because that’s where my mom is from. I have family out there in California.”

As James notes, he is originally from Alabama, which may wind up giving the Crimson Tide an advantage as we go further into this recruitment.

However, James transferred to IMG Academy in January 2020, and he says that transition made a potentially major move to the Midwest or the west coast not as intimidating.

“I think location went out the window when I moved away from my family, when I realized I could be great here,” James said.

Not only did that transfer help out his comfortability with moving to somewhere like Ohio State or USC, it’s also helped prepare him for life as a college athlete when he does eventually get to that next level.

“It was pretty tough. The first couple months without my mom to help me with stuff was tough,” James said. “But after a while, after the season started, you were just with your team the whole time, and you just bond with your brothers.

“When I be talking to college coaches, the ones who haven’t been down here before will be like, ‘what’s a daily schedule for y’all?’ And they’re like, ‘wow, that’s like the same thing we do.’”

James mentions that bond with his teammates and how that helped make his transition to a new high school much easier, and that’s the same type of environment he wants at the next level.

“I want a family-like atmosphere, you know?,” James said. “Where I feel like I can talk to my coaches about anything. I wanna feel at home as soon as I step on campus and I can see myself being there for three or four years. … I feel like Ohio State is (a good fit). Coach (Larry) Johnson and Coach (Ryan) Day are great coaches. They run a great program.”

James says that he and Johnson’s relationships is “real close” and the pair actually spoke on Wednesday night about 10 minutes before we got on the phone with him. They talked about getting on a Zoom call in the near future to talk ball and maybe go through some film, and they discussed setting up an official visit.

The two have discussed Ohio State’s roster and depth at James’ position with Johnson hammering home the Buckeyes’ need to replenish the 3-tech – the spot that Johnson likes James the most at with his ability to explode off the ball and his advanced hand placement.

“He tells me there’s a couple guys he’s gonna be losing so I’ll have a chance to play early with him,” James said. “That was a good thing, and when he calls he checks on me to see how I’m doing and checks on my family to see how they’re doing. I feel like I am a priority so that really helps me get comfortable with him.”

James says that he has a pretty good idea of his decision timeline, saying that he wants to make a commitment before the season “so that I don’t have to focus on it at all during the season. I just wanna get that out of the way because I’m trying to win another national championship before I head to college. I want my season to be my main priority.”

James does not plan on taking a self-guided visit to Columbus and instead will wait things out and see if the NCAA lifts the dead period after May 31.

Header photo: Nick James – Andrew Ivins/247Sports

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