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Freddie James Is Excelling On The Field And In The Classroom

Sept. 19, 2000

By Marsha Byers Clemson Sports Information Student Asst.Wake Forest Game Program – September 16, 2000

When Freddie James was recruited in 1996 by Coach Tommy West and his staff, Clemson gained a student-athlete, who not only excels on the football field, but also in the classroom and in the community. James was also recruited by North Carolina A&T, but he choose Clemson instead of North Carolina A&T because of the, “rich football tradition, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

“I knew that I would have a chance to play against the best. I also chose Clemson because of the chemical engineering program, and my oldest sister, Latonia, graduated from Clemson.”

His sister graduated in 1993 with a bachelor’s of science degree in Computer Science. His school-first, football-and-fun-second attitude has allowed him to become one of the top student-athletes on the Clemson campus.

A 1996 graduate of Saint Stephen High School, in Saint Stephen, SC, James was a defensive leader on the football field, where he started at defensive tackle for three years and at inside linebacker his senior year. He graduated with 134 tackles and fourteen sacks. He also exceeded in the track and field event of shot put, in which he was the 1996 South Carolina State Champion.

In high school, he also starred in the classroom. He was the top student-athlete in 1996, graduating third in his class, and scoring 1160 on the SAT. He was awarded the Academic Scholar Award by the High School League. While at Saint Stephen High School, James maintained a 4.0 grade point average every semester.

James is the son of Freddie and Mary E. James. In addition to his sister Latonia, he has another sister, Fredreka, 26. His actual name is Frederick James, after coming to Clemson he “wondered about going by Frederick or Freddie,” said James. But after talking about it with his former position coach Les Herrin, “we decided that Freddie sounded more like a football player’s name.”

Football is a family activity for the James’. James’ cousin, Garen Williams, played for The Citadel in the late ’80s. Also playing football currently is his cousin, Lance Legree, who is also a fifth-year senior and a starting defensive tackle at Notre Dame. James and his cousin share the same college number, 90.

“My family is very supportive,” James added. “They have never missed a game, home or away. They have been following me around since I was in the eighth grade.

Upon arriving at Clemson, James was red-shirted and he began the extremely difficult task of becoming a graduate of the Clemson chemical engineering program. In the engineering program, he currently has an impressive 3.0 grade point average.

Director of Student-Athlete Enrichment Bill D’Andrea said, “Freddie has always demonstrated responsibility, determination and maturity in the classroom. He works his classes like a business, treating each one as an important and valued customer.”

This past summer he interned with GE Plastics in upstate New York. He was apprehensive about leaving Clemson for the summer because he did not to miss summer work outs in order to prepare for his last season. “I was able to work out while I was in New York and I came back in better condition than when I left Clemson in the spring.”

And that may also be in part to his dedication in the weight room. James is third on the team with his 452-pound bench press and he can do 31 repititions of 225-pound bench press, which also is also third-best on the team.

“Freddie is an extremely strong athlete,” said Russ Patterson, assistant strenth coach. “He always has a great attitude and puts forth top effort every day in practice. He’s very accountable to himself and to the team.”

After graduation in December he said he would love the opportunity to play beyond the college level somewhere but he also has a few job offers that he is looking at.

Outside of his life on the field and in the classroom, James plays a vital role in improving the Clemson community. He is the current vice president of LIFE Line, which stands for Leaders In Football and Education. He was voted the vice president by his teammates that are members of the organization. D’Andrea started LIFE Line in 1996.

James was chosen as one of the original members because of “his ability to lead by example, his excellent academic record, and his ability to balance academics and athletics,” D’Andrea said. During his four years on the LIFE Line team, James has met hundreds of children from the Clemson area. One of his most memorable times was when he spent time with a little girl at a local elementary school who was having trouble with her math homework. “I helped her understand an easy way to approach the problems.”

“A year later, I visited her school with the team to sign autographs and she was there. She had a football game program and she asked me to autograph my picture for her. She then went on to tell me how well she was doing and all the activities she was involved with inside and outside her school. When she remembered me and told me I had made a difference, I knew that I would never forget her,” remembered James.

On the football field, James is a defensive tackle under the supervision of Coach Thielen Smith.

“Although he has never started in a football game, Freddie James is very important to the depth and rotation of the Clemson defensive.” Coach Smith said, “Freddie is a strong contributor to the team. He is a salt of the earth type of person, a person you need to be around. Being around him makes you a better person, knowing him has made me a better person and a better coach.”

His most memorable game thus far in his Clemson football career was the 1998 home football game against the South Carolina Gamecocks. “I remember making more plays in that game than in any other game,” James recalled.

In the game he helped lead Clemson to a 28-19 victory over South Carolina, with a career-high for five tackles, his first college sack and two quarterback pressures. He had his best season thus far at Clemson with 22 total tackles and 210 plays in 1998, but fans can be sure to see more from James in his senior campaign.

In the season opener against The Citadel he had four tackles and played on 25 plays. It is apparent that James is going to be a key part of one of Clemson’s top defensive lines in several years. He joins forces with four other seniors who have high goals for their final season. Stopping the run is the key to any successful defense and the five seniors on this year’s team are some of the team’s top leaders. That includes James.

James would like to thank his parents for helping him become the person he is today. With their guidance and encouragement to keep God first in his life, he has become an outstanding football player, student-athlete and friend.