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October 27, 2009

James humbled by All-American honor

MORE: Army All-American Bowl selection tour | Army AA announcement gallery | Army AA Rosters

CINCINNATI - The U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection tour continued in Cincinnati, Ohio on Tuesday at St. Xavier High School as offensive lineman Matt James officially received his jersey from the U.S. Army. The highly-touted James accepted his jersey from Brigadier General Billy Garrett, and was honored with the selection.

There are some players who simply don't like the spotlight that comes with being a highly-recruited student athlete, and James is one of them. He is a soft-spoken kid who is much more focused on team than on individual honors.

Even with that, James was honored to be named a U.S. Army All-American, but made sure to go out of his way to point out that his teammates and coaches were the ones who allowed him to get the honor.

"It's a pretty big deal," said James about being an All-American. "It is a great honor, but it is a team honor. Without my teammates, without my coaching staff, and without the people that came before me to put this school and this program on the map of being a national power, I couldn't do much. It is a great honor and I appreciate it, but it is a team award."

While some may see James' attitude as just public relations talk, his head coach Steve Specht says that is naturally how James is.

"Matt doesn't like the limelight, he wants to avoid it," Specht said. "That is part of the reason why he narrowed his college list so quickly. He doesn't want the attention. People ask me about when he is going to commit, and I just tell them he is only worried about the season. He is worried about his teammates and that is it."

Specht continued, "It makes it real refreshing because he is the polar opposite of a 'me guy'. He is a 'we guy', and it is refreshing to have him be a part of this."

As noted by Specht, James has trimmed his college list down to Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Ohio State with Florida hanging around a little bit.

There will no doubt be players committed to those schools in his ear when he is in San Antonio, but don't expect James to be tipping his hand.

"It will be interesting," said James of the recruiting that will no doubt happen. "I don't think I will be the most social person, but it will be interesting."

Aside from the attention James is getting from college coaches, James has seen a bump in his stock. Rivals.com recently raised him to the No. 58 player in the nation.

According to Specht, James has taken his game to a new level this season.

"He's just physically superior to just about everybody he plays against because he is so big and fast," said Specht. "He has propelled us to where we are. When you play a schedule like we have, you need kids like Matt."

James also recognizes that his play has greatly improved from his junior season.

"I think I worked on staying low last year, but I played a little too high," said James. "I am playing lower, and just much better than last year. Last year I thought I played a little slow, but this year I am playing faster and much better."

With his improved play, and honor of being an All-American, James is looking forward to playing against the best in San Antonio, but for the team-first guy that James is, the next step he says is simply to win a state title.



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