By Jacob Lopez, Herriman
Photos by Kurt Johnson
Andre James is a 6-foot-5, 295-pound offensive tackle who is described as humble, low-key, and easygoing. Opposing defensive linemen may not agree.
Often referred to as Godzilla or King Kong, James has spent his high school career earning a reputation that would get him recruited by some of the top schools in the nation. Oregon, Ohio State, Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Notre Dame are a few of the schools that showed major interest in James as an offensive lineman. After listening to several recruiting pitches, James ultimately decided to play his football for the UCLA Bruins.
“That’s where he says he will be the happiest,” Herriman offensive coordinator Jeff Wilson said. “The way he talked about the school, and his relationship with the coaches, it’s a great fit.”
James will play for Jim Mora, who once led the Atlanta Falcons to an 11-5 record and a first-round postseason bye. Adrian Klemm, three time Super Bowl champion and a former offensive tackle for the Patriots and Packers, is the current UCLA offensive line coach.
“Mora and Klemm are some of the most respected coaches at their positions and will give Andre an opportunity to succeed,” Coach Wilson said.
The Herriman High Mustangs welcomed James to their program when he was full of raw talent. It took countless hours of practice and determination for James to develop his skills.
“I always wanted to play in the NFL and to be the one to score touchdowns,” James said. “I never wanted to be a lineman until my sophomore year in high school.”
What makes James different from other athletes at his position is his footwork. Most guys linemen are able to bowl over their opponents. Having quick feet gives him the option to make blocks in the open field, and stay in front of agile defenders.
James drew his influences from his family, and picked up a few healthy habits early in his childhood.
“My dad and mom were my biggest influences,” James said. “My dad started training me at a very young age. When I was around eight years old, I would do a lot of speed work and as I got older, I would start to lift weights.”
Considering his stature and athletic ability, James could excel at nearly any sport. James dominated the competition in both baseball and basketball when he was younger, using his strength and size.
The future UCLA star refused to stick to one sport as he took up track and field, becoming a three-time all-state athlete throwing shot put and discus. He holds the school record in both events while ranking as high as No. 13 in the nation in shot put.
It was in track and field where James made his final appearance representing the Mustangs, as he won the 2015 state championships in both of his chosen events.
Not only is James an amazing athlete, but he understands what it takes to be a competitor. He stresses the importance of having a strong relationship with coaches and teammates, knowledge that some recruits fail to understand.
“He’s just a high character guy,” coach Dustin Pearce said.
It is apparent that the relationships between James and his coaches are strong at Herriman High because of the jovial nature with which they discuss the nearly 300-pound big man.
“I’m pretty sure he [James] has never kissed a girl,” coach Randall Kammerman joked.
It’s rare to meet someone as talented and yet so humble as James. Athletes like him are held in high regard and respected by all.
“Being humble isn’t hard,” James said. “I just try to be the same person that I’ve always been and will always be.”