On Sunday night, Rivals250 presented by Under Armour all-purpose back Tony James announced his decision for the Oregon Ducks over offers from Auburn, Kentucky, Ohio State, and several others.
James was setting up official visits with the previously mentioned when he made his verbal commitment to the Pac-12 program. "The main reason was because of the player-coach relationship," he said. "There's nothing that can beat that. First of all, you're 3,000 miles away from home and you have a coach that you can also look up to as a second dad. You can't beat that. You just can't. I can go to this man for advice. He's my coach, so he can still critique me and everything else."
It was the Gainesville (Fla.) native's first time flying, but the official visit made him forget about being away from the Sunshine State. Outside of the rain, the trip had everything James was looking for and more.
The four-star prospect stated, "Oh the official visit was wonderful. I had a blast, and so did my mom, my sister and my dad. I think they enjoyed it more than I did. Honestly, it all blew my mind. I didn't get there in time, so I had to do it all in one day. Taking it all in in one day was overwhelming. Then the game came and that blew my mind even more. There was some bad weather, but that's not going to stop my fun."
James paid close attention to the Ducks' hurry-up, no-huddle offense. The style instantly clicked with the 100-meter sprinter.
"It was everything I expected it to be," he said. "Fast-paced. Score a lot of touchdowns. Run, run, run, throw, run and throw. Everything I see on TV didn't quite justify what I saw in person. Everything was better. It was faster."
As a junior, James helped his team the Class 6A state-title game while rushing for 1,067 yards and eight touchdowns that included a 92-yard scoring run. In the offseason, he didn't attend many camps and combines and he wasn't on the recruiting radar much. However, he knew where he wanted to go all along.
"It's actually a funny story," James said. "I told my old coach Matt Kerstetter,'Coach, if I get an Oregon offer, I'm committing.' Then when I got the offer I pretty much knew I was going to commit there. I just wanted to play it out and see how things went. Then taking the official kind of set it in stone. I want to be there."
The success of the Oregon rushing attack is something he noticed a long time ago watching the Ducks from afar. Did it help with his recruitment?
"It affected it big time, big time," James replied. "It's everything I could ask for, and it's based around my skill set and everything I've been born with. I don't have to get bigger to be a power back. Of course, I can get bigger but still play fast and be elusive. I can get to the outside, make a guy miss, and make it into a 90-yard run and take it to the house. My three favorite running backs in college went there or still go there. That would be Kenjon Barner, LaMichael James and De'Anthony Thomas. Those three guys are my college idols because they represent my style of running."
James said he is shutting down his recruitment and will not take any more visits.
Robert Lopez of InsideTheGators.com contributed to this story.
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