In a game where star players so often only care about personal achievements and accomplishments, BR-34 West Texas A&M linebacker Carter James stands out. While he is still focused on being the best player he can be, he does so to be the best he can for his team.
I asked James about his 2014 Lone Star Conference Freshman of the Year award, and he said, “you can do all the great things you can and succeed as much personally as you can but it doesn’t mean anything because you aren’t winning ball games and you’re not having success as a team.”
In 2014, James’ stat line was outstanding: a team-high 125 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. His impressive season also earned him a win in our 2014 D2 Football Newcomer of the Year vote.
Last season will be one he wants to forget, as his team had to forfeit five games due to a player being academically ineligible. If those games weren’t nullified, they would’ve made it into the playoffs as they were undefeated throughout the season. James doesn’t feel the result had as big an impact on the season as some may think, however. “Do I think it had an effect on our team? Yeah, possibly, but honestly I think we handled it well as a team. I think it brought us together closer as a team.”
As a redshirt freshman last season, the transition to college football wasn’t as hard for James as it is for many. He went to Northwest High School in North Texas, where high school football stadiums are bigger than many D2 and D3 football fields.
“It’s a little bit of a jump but not as big of a jump as some people make it out to be. Texas football is something else, and I think it was valuable learning in that environment.” After hearing this, I even joked with him that it sounded like his high school experience was similar to the TV show Friday Night Lights. He laughed and said that he was actually a huge fan of the show and had the entire box set sitting in his room. His favorite character? Tim Riggins, of course.
Speaking of favorites (and “characters”) Carter has Brian “The Boz” Bosworth featured on his Twitter profile header. For those that don’t know, Brian Bosworth has somewhat of an infamous reputation, mostly due to his status as an NFL bust and his alter ego (the Boz) — an outsized personality and poor decision maker.
“Having the Boz, it’s not so much the character, but Brian Bosworth the football player, that’s someone who I really enjoy watching play. I go back and watch old highlights and plays just because he was so relentless and he played the game the way it was supposed to be played.”
Again putting the team first, he told to me about the upcoming season, “my personal goals don’t really mean much to me if I can’t help the team reach their goals this year.”
He went on to say that West Texas has as hard a schedule as any team in D2 football, and they hope to capitalize on these games and really show everyone what they’re made of.
Off the field, Carter James seems to be just like the rest of us. After admitting that he loves all of Taylor Swift’s music and that he isn’t ashamed to belt her songs out loud, I at first I pointed out the irony of a tough linebacker listening to the country/pop star. But, in all honesty, you have to be kidding yourself if you try and pretend like you don’t enjoy listening to “Shake it Off” or “Love Story” from time to time, regardless of how hard-hitting you are out on the field.
If you’re anything like me, after getting to know Carter a little bit off the field you’ll be even more intrigued to watch him this season on it. The Lone Star Conference isn’t usually a conference that’s known for it’s defense, making him stand out that much more. Look for his name to pop up quite regularly in his college career, and don’t be surprised if he’s getting drafted or signed by an NFL team in the future. He certainly has the right work ethic and mindset for it.