SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — Three-star linebacker Davonte James admitted he was leaning toward Georgia Tech, until a return visit to Morgantown last weekend altered his college plans.
The 6-foot-3, 216-pounder committed to West Virginia on Friday night, becoming the Mountaineers’ 12th pledge for 2014 and the third defensive player.
James visited Georgia Tech last month and came away impressed by the campus and its city surroundings. But the relationship he developed with WVU defensive line coach Erik Slaughter ultimately swayed James to stay closer to home.
“James plays inside linebacker in high school but is being recruited at the Buck position by the Mountaineers,” said Rivals senior writer Keenan Cummings of WVSports.com. “His skill set will fit nicely into that role due to his athleticism to rush the passer and drop back into coverage. He has a knack for being around the ball.”
Scout recruiting analyst Kevin Kinder of BlueGoldNews.com offers this assessment:
“Davonte isn’t a flashy player who relies on speed or highlight plays to make his mark, however he has a lot of the attributes that define the term “football player,'” Kinder said. “He doesn’t get out of position, he fends off blocks well and tackles with excellent technique. Those things often get lost in the analysis of 40-yard dash times and sack totals, but they are what make him a very good prospect. ”
WVU’s current crop of Buck linebackers includes junior college newcomers Brandon Golson and d’Vante Henry, along with senior Dozie Ezemma and sophomore Garrett Hope.
“James will start out as a Buck linebacker in West Virginia’s defensive system, but he could easily grown into the Will or Sam spots on the inside,” Kinder said. “He’s already in the 225-pound range, so it would be easy to see him adding 10 to 15 pounds and making the switch. He’ll have to show that he can drop into pass coverage on the college level in order to be productive as an outside linebacker, but given his work ethic and attention to detail, he should be able to find a spot on the Mountaineers defense. That could take a year or two, but he’s the kind of solid performer that can be depended on to do things correctly.”
James becomes the third Ohio player committed to WVU for 2014, and the Mountaineers have extended offers to two other defensive end prospects from the Buckeye State—three-star Anthony Clark of Akron and three-star Louisville commitment Terry Ramsey of Clayton.