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CHS' James took fast track to signing with Newberry

Posted: February 25, 2014 9:26 a.m.
Updated: February 26, 2014 5:00 a.m.

CAMDEN HIGH’S MAURIC JAMES is joined by his mother, Matasha James, as he signed a National Letter of Intent to play football at Newberry College. Joining the James’ for the ceremony were Camden High principal Dan Matthews and CHS head football coach and athletic director Jimmy Neal.

Before enrolling at Camden High School as a freshman in 2010, Mauric James had never played a down of organized football.
By his sophomore year, the then 6-foot-2, 230-pound offensive lineman had moved his way up to the varsity. By his junior campaign, he earned a starting berth at left guard. For the next two seasons, he became a linchpin of the offensive line.
By the early stage of the 2013 season, James had grown to 6-foot-3 and checked in at 275 pounds. His name and tapes from his games sent to schools by the Bulldog coaching staff started popping up on recruiting boards in various college football offices.
One thing had become certain over time; Mauric James was going to play football somewhere following his final game for the gold and black. Last Friday, James revealed that the school was Newberry College.
The Wolves were the winner in a derby in which several schools jumped on the James bandwagon after his strong showing at the North-South All-Star Game and practice sessions in Myrtle Beach last December.
“There were all kind of people interested in Mauric at that point,” said Camden head coach Jimmy Neal following James’ National Letter of Intent signing ceremony inside the school library.
“He did a good job down there that week and he was doing it against good competition so, they couldn’t really argue about who he was going up against. That was a big plus for him.”
James said his play on the practice field and in the all-star contest along the Grand Strand opened the eyes of recruiters. “It helped a lot because a lot of colleges were there and it gave me a chance to showcase my talents,” he said.
After a pair of 2-8 seasons in his sophomore and junior years, James left Camden High on a more positive note following last fall’s 5-5 campaign. James’ play, as evidenced by his selection to the all-star contest did not go unnoticed by coaches from the North squad.
As a senior, James played a large role in helping a Bulldog offense average better than 306 yards in offense per game, including 189.1 per outing come on the ground.
Neal said going from an unknown commodity to signing a college grant-in-aid with Newberry speaks volumes as to the hard work which James put into becoming a recruitable student-athlete.
“Mauric was a quick learner and he worked hard at it. He was a guy who paid attention to detail,” Neal said of the soft-spoken James. “He’s one of the good guys who you enjoy coaching. He really grew a great deal. Over time, it all became natural to him.”
That talent was seen by Newberry assistant coach Stephen Flynn, a former assistant coach at Lugoff-Elgin and a former head coach of the Kershaw County Post 17 American Legion baseball team. James said he developed a bond with Flynn, who recruits Kershaw County for Newberry, and the school itself.
“From day one, he let me know that they wanted me,” James said of Flynn’s persistence in recruiting him to the NCAA Division II program. “I liked that a lot; it stuck with me through the whole recruiting process. He helped me, a lot, through it all.”
Once taking his visit to Newberry, James took in everything he could of the campus, the classroom and the school’s Setzler Field, a facility which is enclosed inside a brick wall which reminded him of the field on which he played his high school home games.
“It’s a great school for me,” James said. “I like how small the classes are and how the teachers there get to know you, just like high school. Football-wise, it reminds me of playing in Camden and playing right there at Zemp.
“It just felt like a great environment for me, get a chance to get my degree and play football.”
The Newberry coaches have told James that they plan to keep him at offensive guard. Neal said his former lineman brings plenty to the table.
“Speed and athleticism,” Neal said of the two traits which caught coaches’ eyes when watching James either in person or, on film. “Those things will carry you a long way. Mauric can pull around and do those type of things. He has good speed and size and is very good in pass protection.
“Mauric has good height and he’s a big, strong guy. He worked really hard to become a good player.”
Neal said that with little fat on James’ body, Newberry can add more weight and muscle to a player who the Camden boss said has a high ceiling as to his college career. “Mauric’s kind of a lean guy,” Neal said “He can probably put some weight on up there and it will probably be good weight. He’ll just get bigger and better as time goes on.”
James became the third Bulldog senior to sign a NLI this year and the second with Newberry. Earlier this month, CHS wide receiver Alexx Cooke joined up with the Wolves. Having a former teammate remain a teammate at the next level, James said, will give both players more of a comfort level at Newberry.
“That’s going to be great, having the opportunity to play with Alexx again,” James said. “Hopefully, we can go out there and do some great things for Newberry.”
James said the biggest change he anticipates seeing in college is going up against bigger and better players on a daily basis in practice and during games. James said hitting the weights and getting stronger and better in all facets of the game is something on which he will have to focus.
James said his first priority is to earn his degree from Newberry. After that will come football, a sport which he said he could not have imagined playing at the college level just a few years ago.
 “I never thought I was going to play college football,” he admitted with a smile spreading across his face. “I started playing football as a freshman and I never thought I would get to this point where I would be playing college football.
“This is a big day. I’m so happy.”


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