James makes leap to college football

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It is a good time to be Woodland three-sport athlete Jarvis James. Not only is James graduating from high school in less than a week, but on Friday, James placed third in the Class 5A Georgia Olympics in the long jump.

While jumping 22 feet, 8 inches is an impressive accomplishment, the leap James really wanted to make was from high school to college football.

James accomplished that feat earlier in the week when he signed a scholarship to play football at Point University during a ceremony at Woodland High Monday.

“It was all different kind of emotions really. I was sad and happy at the same time,” James said of signing a football scholarship. “All through high school, it was starting to die down towards the end of my career. I was like, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to get a scholarship.’ ... I worried about it day and night. That’s all I really wanted since I was a little kid, to play football at the next level. ... And then, [Point] came through and gave me one, so I was really happy.”

“It’s like one of my sons going off,” Woodland head coach Tony Plott said of James’ signing. “He’s prepared himself to make a better life for himself in the future and we’re really excited for him.”

James was a standout in track and field and on the basketball court where he was the second-leading scorer. The athleticism he displayed in those sports translated to the gridiron where he was a three-year starter for the Wildcats and recorded 11 career interceptions, the record for the most ever at Woodland High.

“Point’s getting a guy that has ran 4.5 40s,” Plott said. “He’s very athletic. He’s played multiple sports for us at Woodland over the years. He’s one of the few three-sport athletes that we have. It’s going to be hard to replace him in all sports.”

As a senior, James was an honorable mention all-Region 7-AAAAA selection and was named to The 2015 Daily Tribune News All-County Football Team.

This past season, James saw time as a running back and a receiver on offense in addition to his defense at cornerback. He produced 319 yards rushing with three touchdowns and 106 yards receiving with one touchdown.

“He had several good runs. He was a big part of our offense this year,” Plott said of James. “We moved him to running back and we used him some as a slot receiver. He had some long runs against Creekview, River Ridge. There were several gamechangers where he kept us in the game.”

On defense, James had 37 tackles, seven pass breakups and three interceptions. He had six interceptions his junior year, including one against Cass and a one-handed pick against Adairsville as a senior.

“He was a great player for us. It was fun to watch him grow into the young man he’s become,” Plott said. “He’s a man of character. He’s shown he has a great work ethic. He became someone we could count on to become a leader for us. We’re excited he has the opportunity to go on.”

In a region loaded with tall, talented receivers, the 5 foot, 10 inch James was often counted on to lock down the other team’s top pass catcher. He showed he was more than capable of taking on the challenge numerous times, particularly against then-Colorado commit Derrion Rakestraw from Sequoyah.

“He was one of the top receivers in the state and Jarvis held him to one reception,” Plott said of the Sequoyah game. “That reception was really my fault for not playing man coverage. At the time, we were playing zone and [Rakestraw] came across the zone.”

James also made his mark with a big game against River Ridge, Woodland’s lone win in 2015 to break a streak of 13 straight losses. James had an interception while shutting down one of the top receivers in the region. On offense, he ran four times for 83 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown, and caught Woodland’s only completion in the game for 19 yards.

“The record didn’t show, but I feel good about it,” James said of his career with the Wildcats. “I feel like I learned to be a better man, which is what football is all about to me because you’re going to have your ups and downs. I feel like it really helped me out, and to hold a record up here for most interceptions, it sets it off.”

James will be matched up with more talented receivers when he gets to Point, but Plott believes James will perform well.

“Jarvis is a guy that’s probably been overlooked a little bit,” Plott said. “He’ll go on campus and he’ll get their attention from Day 1. He’ll earn playing time really quickly wherever they decide to use him.”

James will be joining a former teammate at Point as rising junior linebacker Isaiah Ross also plays for the Skyhawks.

“I teamed up with Isaiah and we all know that Isaiah was probably the biggest leader to come through Woodland High,” James said. “He’s one of the biggest leaders there. When I went there, everybody knew who he was just like when he was [at Woodland]. So it’ll be good to team up with him again, along with Tony Dean from Cartersville.”

Point University is an NAIA program in the Appalachian Athletic Conference. James said he expects to play cornerback for the Skyhawks, but also can return kicks and play offense.

“I’m going to go as D-back because I feel like I just have a sense for the ball. If it’s in the air, I’m going to go find it. So I’m going to start off there and go wherever they need me,” James said. “Really, first off, I just want to focus on my education. That’s what’s most important. I want to major in business management and come back and have my own landscaping business.”

James scored a 53-yard touchdown in the Georgia Dome during a postseason all-star game, and before he goes off to Point, he will play in another all-star setting as he is going to the 2016 Down Under Bowl on the Gold Coast of Australia this summer.

“It will be the last week of June through the Fourth of July. It’s going to be really nice,” James said of playing in Australia. “It’s nine days. It’s going to be the United States versus a lot of other countries. I’m excited because, for one, I’ve never been on a plane before, and I think it’s just going to be something new.”