Another day, another player on the countdown of the Top 60 players at The U. Today, we take a look at No. 25: Freshman running back Mike James. I got three words when it comes to Smiley: Believe The Hype!
> What we heard about him on Signing Day '09: James wasn't the headliner in UM's 2009 recruiting class. He wasn't even considered the best running back. Some guy from Kansas, who never signed, was supposed to be the big-time back UM had in it 2009 class. But a lot has changed since Signing Day. At 5-11, 217 pounds, we heard a lot about James' physical prowess. For the record, Scout.com rated him the 18th best running back in the country. Rivals had him No. 21 and ESPN had him No. 33. Something tells me he'll be a little better than that. He finished his senior year at Davenport High with 1,200 yards rushing and 12 TDs, a stellar follow up to a 1,108 yard, 15 touchdowns season as a junior.
> What he's done as a Cane: What he did when he arrived in January was explode on the scene. Right out of the gate, James was turning heads and impressing teammates in practice. He only had 14 yards on six carries in the spring, but he scored a 3-yard touchdown and caught two passes for 13 yards while flashing the toughness not seen by a UM back in years. In testing, he was time a 4.52 40-yard dash. His bench press of 350 pounds was the most of any tailback. He also squated 435 pounds and power cleaned 279.
> What Eye On The U expects from him in '09: For all the hype and hoopla over the running backs UM has signed since Willis McGahee, Frank Gore and Clinton Portis left the program earlier in the decade, no UM running back has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark since 2002 (McGahee). James won't get there this season with players like Graig Cooper and Javarris James in front of him on the depth chart. But he could down the line. He showed a capacity to not only break tackles consistently, but to keep moving the pile forward throughout the spring. If anything, his biggest contribution could turn out to be how much he pushes Cooper and Javarris to perform consistently. If they don't deliver, I fully expect Mike James to be the ball carrier at the end of the season and in important times late in games. He's was that impressive this spring.