Nov 24, 2012; Evanston, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini helmet during the game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Fighting Illini Recruiting: Chris James to Officially Visit Illinois

Are the Illinois Fighting Illini about to land a player who is “considered one of the top shutdown corners in Southeast Texas in his senior season” just before National Signing Day?

I was first put on to the trail by this tweet from Jason Thompson. So, huge thanks to him.

According to the linked release from in the tweet above, West Orange-Stark’s Chris James is slated to visit the Fighting Illini this weekend, and if things go well there is a very good chance that he will commit to play for the orange and blue.

James is a 5’ 10.5” defensive back that has also shown the ability to carry the ball from the running back position. 247Sports currently has him ranked as a 2 star player. He has offers from Iowa State and McNeese State, and interest from TCU and Texas A&M.

Please take a minute to watch James’ highlights on Hudl to get a feel for what he might bring to Illinois.

My immediate thoughts after watching his film on Hudl are as follows:

  • He takes great angles, and consistently puts himself in a position to make a play even when the play isn’t necessarily run in his direction.
  • He has great field vision, and the ability to escape, which could serve him well if he works his way into being an option at punt returner for the Illini.
  • Unlike many defensive backs, he has displayed the ability to catch the ball consistently. Obviously, highlight reels don’t show drops, but there are plenty of instances of him catching the ball out of the backfield.

I am making the assumption that he is being recruited to play defensive back at Illinois, and at that position he looks like he could be a diamond in the rough for sure.

Could James play running back at Illinois? It’s possible, but if he does my guess is that it would only be as a pass catching option out of the backfield on third down at this point because his current size doesn’t appear to translate well into being able to run the ball consistently into the teeth of a Big Ten defense and stay healthy in the process.

You can follow Ryan on Twitter @RPKraemer.

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