High School: Atlantic HS; Delray Beach, Florida
His Recruitment: Early into the recruiting process, it became apparent that James Louis was going to be a hot commodity in southeastern recruiting. Just about everyone extended offers from the fall of 2008 and into early 2009, including Virginia Tech, Miami, Florida State, Florida, LSU, Alabama, Georgia and so on. Ohio State’s offer was one in a crowded field and, minus a few references within a “top five”, it did not appear to be the one that stood out. The offer that did came from the Florida Gators. Louis was thought to be a lock for the Gators, and was supposed to commit shortly after their spring game. He passed on that, but called Urban Meyer with the good news in the second week of July 2009.
His Commitment: News of a commitment to Florida surfaced on July 15th and were eventually confirmed by his high school coach. Louis, long thought to be a Florida lock, had made it official. He was going to be a Florida Gator. Delaying the commitment until after the spring game was rumored to be a reaction to Florida’s recruiting situation. The Gators’ staff had offered both Louis and Chris Dunkley thinking of them in the same position. It was reported that the delayed commitment came because Louis was reticent to be in the same recruiting class with Dunkley, though Louis denied this. The delay actually came so Louis could consider other schools, like Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio State. Seeing no reason to proceed further, Louis informed Urban Meyer of his choice.
His Commitment, Take Two: As far as anyone knew, Louis was going to Gainesville for college. His head coach had said as much. It was therefore just a little surprising when word broke on July 29th, 2009 that James Louis had committed to the Buckeyes.
So, wait. What happened?
Well, as far as James Louis knew, the issue was settled. He was going to Florida and had let Urban Meyer know that he was going to accept the scholarship offer tendered to him. Though various media outlets in South Florida reported the commitment, Urban Meyer advised him to not go public with the commitment. Louis did not think too much of the comment until he started reading reports that said Florida was not going to accept his commitment. Recall the aforementioned recruiting situation for Florida regarding Louis and Dunkley. The coaching staff may have wanted both for the same position, but felt that a commitment from one would cost them the other. It seems the one that Urban wanted the most was Dunkley, but it was Louis that committed first. By advising Louis to keep quiet, Urban tried to put the full court press on Dunkley knowing that he already had Louis. This became more pronounced when Dunkley arrived for Florida’s “Friday Night Lights” camp while Louis had to skip it on account of a transportation problem.
However, Louis did not quite understand this strategic element. While this was strategy for Urban and company, it was the matter of not knowing whether or not the Gators’ coaching staff was going to honor his scholarship offer and commitment. It stands to reason that refusing to acknowledge his commitment was equivalent to Florida refusing to acknowledge his written scholarship offer. Louis called and asked for clarification and if Urban meant what was inferred by Gator recruitniks when he was told to keep his commitment quiet. An astonishing five days had passed without an answer from Urban Meyer. At that point, Louis said “to hell with it” and committed to Ohio State.
This answers why he “decommitted” from Florida, though the topic of “why Ohio State” has been mostly underexplored. It appears that Ohio State was a school he was fascinated with, likely second on his list after the Gators and a school of high interest since day one. He liked the coaching staff. Wide receiver recruits tend to speak very positively of position coach Darrell Hazell. There also appears to be a Cris Carter factor here. Alumni are not allowed to serve as recruiters, but Louis got some very good vibes about Ohio State from Carter. The exact reason why he committed to Ohio State remain a little unspecified for me, but Louis said he was sold on the Buckeyes and would not be attending college anywhere else. Buckeye fans rejoiced for the meantime, but remained a little skeptical about how a solid a commitment it could was.
“A Popular Target”: A South Florida kid committing to Ohio State, site unseen and with no substantive family connection to Ohio, essentially meant that other programs did not take his commitment to Ohio State seriously. After all, was he not supposed to be a Gator just two weeks before? Louis remained a popular target for other programs, particularly the Gators. His commitment to Ohio State had served the desired result of getting the Florida staff to call him and explain themselves. It effectively repaired the relationship as well, resulting in a visit to Gainesville for the Tennessee game. Louis expressed an affinity for the program and staff, at least putting forward the possibility that his commitment could be reconsidered. With Dunkley still on the fence and Demar Dorsey decommitting from the Gators, a scholarship seemed to still be available.
The Gators were just one of a group of schools now after Louis. Minnesota expressed an interest. Louis’ head coach at Atlantic HS was a former Golden Gopher twenty years ago and his teammate, Donnell Kirkwood, had committed there. This got particularly hilarious when obsessive Minnesota fans scoured the Facebook profile of James Louis, who by that time recognized he could play obsessive fans for chumps and decided to string them along. This Star-Tribune article shows how some fans could not read between the lines.
Things got hectic at the end of the year. Consider the following reports from the Under Armour practice that said Louis was “100% committed for now”, versus an update that he was “100% committed” and would not take other visits. This was followed by a Rivals update that said he was waiting until after the Under Armour game to take other visits, which was followed by a Bucknuts piece where he said the opposite was true and yet another piece where he said his mom wanted him to take other visits. He took a surprise visit to Florida and was rumored to express an interest in Virginia Tech, the school of previous teammate Jayron Hosley and teammate and quarterback Mark Leal. Fortunately, Louis ruled out the Gators shortly after his visit. Louis’ commitment to Ohio State seemed more and more solid as signing day approached, eventually resulting in a faxed LOI to the WHAC and, thus, this feature.
Where He Excels: James Louis thinks that his style of play is similar to former Buckeye receiver Santonio Holmes. He is that mold of wide receiver prospect where he would be an obscenely good cornerback, which makes Urban’s preference for Dunkley over him a little more curious. Athletically, he absolutely compensates for missing out on Andre Debose in the previous class. He is that explosive.
His real strength is not that he’s just a garden variety fast. He is fast, but there is more to it. He has great quickness and acceleration. He gets off the line of scrimmage immediately and can create separation between he and his defender efficiently. Like Santonio Holmes, he can be equally effective inside or out, behind the line of scrimmage or on it. The real intrigue is watching him make his cuts and double-moves. The speed demonstrated there is what makes him truly explosive and where an inch to make the catch soon becomes a mile separating him from the defense. He, and Corey Brown 2010, constitute home run threats in this recruiting class.
Must Work On: Two things to come to mind, though they are not to be interpreted as significant criticisms. At 5’11, 180lbs, James Louis will want to develop his upper body a little more. College kids are much bigger than high school kids and press coverage will frustrate Louis if his body is not developed to endure the contact. Second, most people agree that Louis can work on his route running. However, every wide receiver needs to work on his route running. The passing game is mostly underdeveloped in high school football. Elite athletes like Louis tend to rely on their speed to beat vastly inferior competition. At the college level, efficient route running becomes a luxury to create separation.
Redshirt? After he committed to Ohio State, several reports on Louis had Louis saying that Tressel told him he would not redshirt. If so, I’m inclined to give coach the benefit of the doubt and say he will not redshirt in 2010. I am not sure he will factor into an otherwise open return game in 2010, though it has been discussed. However, the recent problems with Duron Carter have made the Ohio State receiver corp very top-heavy. The third wide receiver spot is open to anyone who can fill it, be it old-timers like Taurian Washington and Grant Schwartz, young’ns like Chris Fields and James Jackson, or one of the incoming kids: Tyrone Williams, Corey Brown 2010 or James Louis.
- The Bellisaris were from nearby Boca Raton, but the last Buckeye to call Delray Beach home was Central McClellion. I think. Someone may correct me on that. James and Central went to different high schools.
- His high school head coach, Andre Thaddies, has found himself in a bit of trouble (see: here, and here) recently. The allegations in the first link are serious and he is no longer employed at the high school as a result. This is the first time in any of these features where I’ve come across something like this.
- He and Corey Brown 2010 were the lone Buckeyes represented at the 2010 Under Armour All-American Game. He generally impressed during practice.
- December 2009 interview: here.
- August 2009 interview with Alex of 11w: here.
- You don’t care, but Urban ended up getting Chris Dunkley in the class. Again, you don’t care, but that’s why it’s in this section as opposed to the other ones.
- In another interesting story that’s a first of its kind for these features, a game between James Louis’ Atlantic HS and rival Boynton Beach erupted into violence at the conclusion of the game. The police/coaches said the incident was related to local gangs.
- He will room with Christian Bryant.
- Pre-compiled stats, courtesy of Bucknuts:
* Vital Statistics: As a senior, Louis caught 39 passes for 661 yards and nine touchdowns. Louis caught 58 passes for 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns during his junior season. He also intercepted two passes on defense. As a sophomore, he caught 32 passes for 420 yards and five touchdowns. He played in the Under Armour All-American Game on Jan. 2.
* Rankings: Louis is rated as a national top-150 prospect by ESPN Scouts Inc. That site ranks him as the nation’s No. 80 prospect overall and also as the nation’s 12th-best wide receiver. SuperPrep considers Louis as an All-American, ranking him as the 23rd-best prospect in Florida and the nation’s No. 34 wide receiver.
I think James Louis may now be better known.
I’ll put him on the board too.
|Class of 2010|
|Name||Position||Hometown||Better Known?||Name||Position||Hometown||Better Known?|
|Darryl Baldwin||DE||Solon, OH||05.25||James Louis||WR||Delray Beach, FL||06.21|
|Drew Basil||K||Chillicothe, OH||05.17||Scott McVey||LB||Cleveland, OH||05.03|
|Corey Brown 2010||ATH||Springfield, PA||JT Moore||DE||Youngstown, OH||02.15|
|Christian Bryant||DB||Cleveland, OH||Andrew Norwell||OL||Cincinnati, OH||03.29|
|David Durham||LB/DE||Charlotte, NC||04.12||Verlon Reed||ATH||Columbus, OH|
|Taylor Graham||QB||Wheaton, IL||05.08||Bradley Roby||DB||Suwanee, GA|
|Adam Griffin||ATH||Columbus, OH||Roderick Smith||RB||Fort Wayne, IN||05.13|
|Chad Hagan||LB/S||Canonsburg, PA||Jamel Turner||DE||Fork Union, VA||03.08|
|Johnathon Hankins||DT||Detroit, TSUN||Tyrone Williams||WR||Cleveland, OH|
|Carlos Hyde||RB||Naples, FL||06.29.09|