Back The Motivation of Sam James

Back To Recruiting

The Motivation of Sam James

By BJ Bennett
Follow us at  Become a fan at the Facebook Page

Inch-by-inch and yard-by-yard, the process continues for Sam James.

Sometimes not having much pushed me to work harder. I honestly thank my mom for everything.
~Sam James

There was unbridled emotion on the face of Richmond Hill senior wide receiver Sam James at his signing day ceremony on Wednesday, a feeling that many student-athletes have upon realizing a lifelong dream. Sentiments, for James, weren't simply for where he is going, a testament, instead, to where he has been.

James is a 6'2'' highlight reel from just south of Savannah, Georgia, a talent whose big plays have become big news. Athletic and agile, engaging and enthusiastic, James, the recruit, is the complete package. He caught 95 passes for 1,822 yards and 19 touchdowns as an upperclassman for the Wildcats, showcasing abilities rarely before seen, even in a talent-rich region. With offers from multiple ACC and SEC schools, James chose West Virginia, ultimately signing before Christmas.

The journey to the mountains, for James, is one that has come with highs and lows.

For many high school students, a college choice can be the biggest decision of one's life; James' judgment had already been tested. For as fast as James is, growing older came at an especially-accelerated pace. Raised in a single-parent household, living, at times, with his grandmother, James dealt with challenging adversity as a child. He often worked to help ends meet while in school, emulating the example of those close to them, where family came before everything else, football included.

"Growing up, it was a struggle for my mom," James shared. "We really didn't have a lot, but, for my brother and I, my mother made sure we had what we needed and sometimes what we wanted."

Mom was more than just there for the James boys, she was everywhere. Persistence has Sam where he is now, a soon-to-be star at college football's highest level; that standard was set early. While James impressively juggled academics and athletics, he, most importantly, worked to provide for his family. With real-world responsibilities, James the student-athlete was often secondary to James the man; both carried the load.  

It was a follow-the-leader approach.

"She had two jobs sometimes and watching my mom be a mom and then a dad, too, inspired me and motivated me to do what I'm doing," James continued. "It showed me that nothing was given and you go work and earn what you want. That pushed me in the classroom and on the field to work hard and go get what I wanted. I had to grind and get after it everyday."

The bond between mother and son has been a defining one. On the first day of the early signing period, it was a poignant one as well.

"I did this for my momma, not me," James acknowledged. "I wanted to make her proud."

When James inked his national letter of intent earlier in the week, his mother was among those right by his side. Their embrace, after pen met paper, was years in the making. On one of the biggest days of his life, James was appreciative and gracious. He thanked countless people for helping him along the way, humble in a spotlight that couldn't have been more bright. A day all about where James was going was more about who got him there, instead. 

As a monumental goal was met, a special relationship was only strengthened. Through all of the tears, a powerful pride was on clear display. 

"She is really why I'm pushing and go so hard, so I can take pain off her chest, make her happy and proud, too," James nodded. "Make sure, after I get my degree, she doesn't have to work anymore also."

For all of James' abilities, perspective might be his best asset. James has seen a lot, difficulties that have only enhanced his determination. The drive has long been there, well before James actually had a license. Moving forward, the road continues, this time roughly 640 miles to the north.    

James heads to West Virginia on a mission, an opportunity he is sure to make the most of. A high-flying talent, James' style should fit right into the Mountaineers' dynamic downfield passing attack. He is poised to be an early contributor, prepared to make the next-level transition with relative-ease. Through the chaos of recruiting, James was steadfast; he is ready for all that lies ahead.  

"You just have to know where your heart is going to take you," he added. 

A combine-ready athlete, James has a strength beyond measure. Though the platform may change, the plan does not. Country roads will always take James back home.

"I can be a role model for my little brother, so he knows if I can do it he can do it," James concluded. "Sometimes not having much pushed me to work harder. I honestly thank my mom for everything."

Inch-by-inch and yard-by-yard, the process continues for James. Long routes have never been a problem.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports