FAYETTEVILLE — Mansfield (Texas) Class of 2023 defensive lineman Kaleb James has committed to Arkansas.
James, 6-5. 250, made the decision public today on his 17th birthday. James was at Arkansas on Saturday for a Prospect Day and will return for another one this Saturday. He talked about why he chose the Razorbacks.
“Just because Coach (Sam) Pittman is so real and everything about Arkansas is just blue collar and work hard,” James said. “That’s the type person I am.”
James has a grade of 80 with ESPN which makes him a four-star recruit. He is the No. 41 defensive end in the nation, No. 54 recruit in the region and No. 41 prospect in Texas. He is No. 272 in the ESPN 300.
James played at Fort Worth Nolan (Texas) Catholic through his junior football season. He finished 2021 with 105 tackles, 61 solo, 20 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, 36 quarterback hurries, five recovered fumbles and two forced fumbles. James provided feedback on Saturday’s visit.
“The visit was a lot of fun,” James said. “I made a bigger relationship with the coaches. Got to know them more. I had a good conversation with Coach Pittman. Also talked to him a lot more and get to know him a lot more.”
James has been to Arkansas numerous times for games and camps. Saturday was different.
“This visit you could actually sit down, get to know them as a person, what their views are about, what they view this program as and things like that,” James said.
What was the highlight?
“Talking to Coach Pittman,” James said. “He’s such a good guy and one of my favorite coaches by far.”
What did you think about the turnaround from 2-10 when he arrived in back-to-back years to 9-4 in the second year?
“I think Coach Pittman has really turned this program around,” James said. “When he got it the team wasn’t doing too hot. He’s totally turned this program and doing good things with it.”
James was among the Arkansas fans at AT&T Stadium when the Razorbacks beat Texas A&M 20-10 this season. He knew at that point Arkansas was probably on its way to a good season.
“That was a crazy game,” James said. “Didn’t really know what to expect going into it. I knew Arkansas would get the job done. So that’s what I believed in the beginning and that’s what ended up happening.”
Arkansas beat both Texas and Texas A&M this season. Does that carry much weight for a prospect from Texas?
“I wouldn’t say so much just because they’re winning I would go here,” James said. “But so much because of what Coach Pittman has done with this program. The things he’s building here.”
James is also impressed with Jermial Ashley, who will be his position coach at Arkansas.
“Me and Coach Ashley have a really good relationship,” James said. “We facetime every now and then. Talk to each other. Catch up on each other’s weeks and see how each other is doing. I think he’s a really good coach. Very humble guy and overall a really good coach.”
Do you know if they plan to play you at end or bulk you up and play inside?
“I’m not sure yet,” James said. “Coach Ashley hasn’t really talked to me about that yet.”
Also does it matter to you?
“No not really as long as I’m playing football that’s all that matters to me,” James said.
Click here for highlights.
Arkansas’ Class of 2023 Verbal Commitments
Shamar Easter, TE, 6-5, 225, Ashdown
Anthony Evans, WR, 6-0, 160, Converse (Texas) Judson
Jaden Hamm, TE, 6-6, 225, Eudora (Kan.)
Kaleb James, DL, 6-5, 250, Mansfield (Texas)
Joey Su’a, OL, 6-5, 315, Bentonville
Dallas Young, CB, 6-1, 180, Gardendale (Ala.)