GHS running back Tony James looks to lead the ‘Canes back to Orlando in 2013
By Chuck Dowling
The old adage is that speed kills.
Well if that is true, then Gainesville running back Tony James is nothing short of an assassin on the football field.
Former head coach James Thomson says of James, “He’s one of the fasted kids I’ve ever coached. It’s scary how fast and how much of a game changer he can be.”
That’s high praises from a coach that just took his undefeated Gainesville High School squad to the state championship game before stepping down in the offseason to take the head job at Deland High School.
Thompson went on to say, “he’s got more potential than any other running back I’ve been around. He’s electric and when he has the ball in his hands. The sky is the limit.”
The 4-star running back impressed scouts back in January at the Army combine.
“He’s a well-rounded running back who showed off one of the best overall bursts at the event,” said Rivals analyst Mike Farrell. “He’s got broad shoulders and gets off the line of scrimmage very well and cuts on a dime. This kid can catch the football.”
James says he loves football, that he has been playing since he was little, and that he loves the game so much that he can’t find the words to describe it. He realizes he needs to get bigger and stay healthy but recognizes his strengths are his ‘decisions, cuts, speed, and elusiveness.’
“I’m a team player,” he said. “I’m a leader and I’m coachable.”
After his sophomore season, James transferred from cross-town rival Buchholz to Gainesville. He says the transition was not real tough.
“It took some getting used to with different coaches and having more athletes at one school, but it’s been great because I knew everybody,” he added. “I played Pop Warner with a lot of them.”
The transition to GHS seems to be going well for James, and he says he takes a lot of pride in his new school.
“Everything we do as a team, I do as a team,” said James, who has been clocked with a 4.27 in the 40-yard dash. “If we do good as a team it makes me look good. If I do good, it makes the team look good. I just want to help the team in a positive aspect.”
His goals for his senior season are ‘to have another undefeated season, win state, and become a student of the game.’
Despite several scholarship offers that include in-state rivals Florida, Miami and FSU, James says he’s not leaning in any particular direction yet and is taking time to think about it.
He recently showcased his speed and elusiveness among some of the state’s best last Saturday when he attended the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour in Orlando. The speedster will get an opportunity to test his quickness in late April at the state track meet.
Then, he’ll focus on spring football, which begins on May 1.
Gainesville is coming off its first state championship game appearance in 33 years. With Ralph Webb graduating, he’ll be the feature back for the ‘Canes this season.