Niles (Ill.) Notre Dame running back Chris James has picked up the pace of his recruitment in the last few days. On Wednesday he scheduled his first, and possibly only, official visits of the process.
"I'm planning on visiting Pittsburgh when they play Virginia (Sept. 28)," James said. "For Wisconsin I am planning on the game against Northwestern, I believe that is Oct. 12."
Although he was representing an open position regarding his top five just a few days ago, James acknowledged that Pittsburgh and Wisconsin now represent the top two schools in his recruitment.
"Those are definitely the two schools I am [focused on]," he said. "I am still open to hear [from other schools], but those are pretty much the schools in charge. Those, I feel, are the best two fits as of now."
Deciding which of Pittsburgh and Wisconsin will be the final selection is a process that will be greatly aided by the upcoming official visits. He has seen both schools previously, but expects to get a more in-depth look during the next two trips and he will start in 10 days at Pittsburgh.
"I just can't wait to learn more about the program," James said of the Pitt visit. "It's so far away from home that you have to make sure you feel comfortable out there.
"When I made [an earlier] trip the coaches seemed really genuine, honest people. I'm also trying to see their depth chart. Obviously they are having a great freshmen impact right now."
The visit to Wisconsin the weekend of Oct. 12 will be James' first since he landed an offer from the Badgers in May.
"I think I have visited Wisconsin more than any of those other schools," James said. "I visited them a couple times as a sophomore and a couple times as a junior, but obviously at that time I wasn't that high of a recruit and there were a lot of other recruits there.
"This time I plan on getting up there and getting questions answered. Obviously their running backs are killing it, but they already have a three-headed monster going right now. Me and their running backs coach have been talking for awhile, so we definitely have a relationship there."
James had originally planned to visit Tennessee on Oct. 5, but he has since found out his team has a game that day. The only college game he has attended this season was last weekend to see Illinois host Washington at Soldier Field and he is not ruling the Illini out of his recruitment.
"If it is at their home stadium they can't talk to you, but it was great," James said. "They are always going to be right there in my top five. They were the first team to pull the trigger, so they believe in my talent and it's an in-state school. I'm not cancelling them out, but obviously I have my two leaders for now."
Iowa, Michigan State and Tennessee had made up the remainder of James' top five before this week. He has not ruled those schools out either.
"I am planning on possibly taking another official to another school," James said. "I'm not 100 percent what school and when that would be. I'm trying to figure out how to do that without interfering with my team schedule. Also, I'm not trying to drag this thing out too long."
James is prepared to end his recruiting process as soon as he knows which school he wants to continue his career at.
"If after my first official if I feel that is the place for me, I'm going to pull the trigger," he said. "There's no reason to drag it out if you already know where you're going.
The 5-foot-9, 212-pound James is three games deep into his senior season and estimated his current stats at 400 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
Josh Helmholdt is the Midwest Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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