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It’s often said that offensive linemen are the smartest players on a football field – despite the fact that they get beaten about the head and neck more than most – and California’s latest offensive line offeree -- Matt James -- isn’t bucking the trend.
The 6-foot-5, 240-pound offensive tackle out of Coeur D’Alene (Idaho) sports a nifty 4.03 GPA, and told BearTerritory on Wendnesday afternoon that – in no uncertain terms – he was going to college with academics foremost on his mind.
James – who also has offers from Air Force, Arizona State, Army, Boise State, Idaho, Washington, Washington State and others – was contemplating making a decision relatively soon, but after a phone call with Bears offensive line coach Zach Yenser ended with an offer on Tuesday night, those plans may very well be changing.
“I’m still trying to figure everything out,” James said. “I haven’t really decided anything, yet. It’s definitely awesome, but I’m still trying to figure everything out.”
Much like many of Cal’s other offensive line targets at the tail end of last cycle and the start of the 2014 and 2015 cycles have been exactly of the type James is – long, lean and athletic, with superior footwork and a bit of a mean streak. James came in fifth in the state of Idaho in wrestling as a sophomore, and helped lead Coeur D’Alene to an undefeated season that year, as well. Aside from playing offensive tackle, James is also a standout defensive end.
“He said that they liked me on film and that I’m a big, athletic guy,” James said. “They have great football, and it’s a good opportunity to get some playing time. I know that they have a great academic program and I think coach said that they’re the No. 1 public university, so I really like that. I’m going to college for academics, so that’s a good thing.”
James starts two-a-days the third week of August, but wants to use the intervening weeks to maybe check out Berkeley and the new Bear Raid offense.
“We run a spread, so it’s similar; They’re going to be spread and fast-tempo,” James said.
James was invited by the former staff to come to Cal see last year’s Big Game as a recruit, but did not speak much with Jeff Tedford’s crew.
“They were looking at me a little bit, but I didn’t really talk to them that much – just a couple messages on facebook and that was it,” said James, who likes what he’s heard so far from Yenser. “I like him. Talking on the phone with him the other day, I haven’t really gotten to know him that well, but I like him.
“I’m talking with my parents and we’re still trying to find a time to come out, but it’s definitely a possibility, maybe during fall camp. We’re still trying to figure everything out.”