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2020 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Jalen James, LB, Benedictine College

Jalen James the hard hitting LB from Benedictine College recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds owner Damond Talbot.
  • Name: Jalen James
  • Height: 5”11
  • Weight: 236
  • Position: Inside Linebacker
  • College: Benedictine College
  • Twitter: @jboogie216_

Tell us about your hometown, and what you love most about it?

• Well, I was raised in the city of Cleveland, Ohio. There’s a lot that goes on in the city so you have to learn how to navigate without getting having any problems but I love my city. Taught me a lot growing up and forced me to cherish life more. The greatest thing I love about my city is the tough love you get from the people. Something about that gives me a drive to never be satisfied or content with what you’re doing in life.

List these three in order of importance and why: Film Study, Strength and Conditioning and Practice?

• Honestly it’s pretty tough to list these in a order of importance because I believe that two of the three would be on the same level of importance. For the question sake though, first it would be film because the game is 80% mental and 20% physical. The next two I feel should be just as important as the other but second would be practice then a close third would be strength and conditioning.

What do you worry about, and why?

• I feel like I worry about scenarios that I make up in my mind. I’m a very anxious person and love to predict things so I’m always looking ahead to see what’s next, which can have no consequence or can trouble me at times. I also don’t let my worries consume me because most of what I worry about is in my control so, it just pushes me to try and perfect every move I make in this world.

Give me an example of when you failed at something. How did you react and how did you overcome failure?

• An example of me failing at something was football honestly. Coming into my junior season, I was starting to get interest from schools like Penn State, Mizzou, Purdue, Cincinnati and others. Unfortunately, I had a locker room issue that forced me to sit the last 4 regular season games. Going into the first round of the playoffs, something came about where I was throw back in as the starter and let every emotion I was experiencing over those few weeks come out on the field. In the 5 playoff games, I raked up about 45 tackles, a few sacks, INT and won the 2014 State Champion. Unfortunately with my graves being a 2.45, not a great ACT score and having that fiasco I did during my junior season, almost all of the Division 1 programs that were showing strong interest, fell back. I ended up coming to Benedictine College from a late bloomer offer and that changed my life. Redshirted my freshman, started the next season, led the team in tackles two out of the three season playing here. Three time all-conference, two of the time being 1st team, two conference championships, a national championship appearance with numerous other accolades. I could have easy sat in self pity after missing out on my chance to play at a high level of college football but I prevail.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?

• I believe the best quality that I have according to my teammates is my ability to get others around me to open up. I really keep to myself but at the same time, the entry that I give off and my efforts to show that I care and willing to converse with someone about any topic, makes teammates comfortable around me, even though they understand I’m about my business and craft.

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?

• Best player I’ve ever played against in college would have to be Trent Solsma, QB at Morningside. I faced him in the National Championship game in Daytona, Fl in 2018. Accuracy was incredible as long with his arm power and confidence.

What would your career be if you couldn’t play football? 

• If I couldn’t play football, I would be invested in jumping to one of my elaborate business plans of either starting up a vending machine corporation, or start opening franchises of fast food chains like Little Caesers or Wendy’s. I would definitely be working in the field of business, even though major and minor are Criminology with Mass Communication. I  would have options but the more incomes, the better.

Room, desk and car – which do you clean first?

• I clean room first because that’s my living domain, it’s how I keep my peace and sanity. Next would be desk because that’s my space out in public. My boss, clients and colleagues will be in that space, so I wouldn’t want the narrative to be  me as unprofessional and inadequate to do business with because of the lack of care I provide to my work. Lastly it would be car but luckily, I always have the urge to clean my personal spaces very frequently.

If there was a disaster and you could either save three strangers or one family member, which would you choose and why?

• Tough question, picking either would still result in the death of others so there’s no right answer. I would say my family never because I believe the death of the three strangers would bring less sadness to me and those around me where if I were to save the three strangers instead, my family would possible have a personal vendetta towards me, which could tear the family apart.

If you could be any television or movie character, who would you be and why?

• If I could be any movie character, I would be Hancock minus the alcohol abuse that he endured during the beginning of the movie. His abilities and powers were unworldly and like no other. He could help anyone with anything from a pedestrian getting robbed to helping the government as a special tactic for war.

Tell me about your biggest adversity in life and how you’ve dealt with or overcome it?

• My biggest adversity I’ve dealt with in life is overcoming the ignorance I had to really being alone with no help. Moving out to Kansas from Ohio, I knew absolutely no one in this state so I really had to grow up faster than most. I was very broke as well my first year and a half, not having the ability to get much from family because they had their own concerns at the time so I had to get it on my own. It’s not like I was so dependent on my parents before because anything they was ever given to me from them I had to earn but it was token to a more extreme level when being out in Kansas by my lonely. I made it through and from there, learned how to manage and take care of myself. I believe it was the first time I had the ability to only worry about myself as well so it was perfect timing. Back at home, it was never just me, I have brothers so we had to take care of one another. Leaving them and moving to Kansas Gabe me the opportunity to just worry about me for a little while.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

• I’ve taken many loses in life so I don’t know what the most embarrassing moment was. I guess it would be having the talent and potential to play at the Division 1 level, even seeing it unfold in front of me but me failing because of myself. Humbled me a lot so I don’t regret the experience though.

What was the most memorable play of your collegiate career?

• The most memorable play of my collegiate career would have to be my scoop and score vs Concordia in the second round of the NAIA playoffs in 2018. Concordia was extremely good and the coaching staff hyped them up so much during the week going into the game. We came out stronger than I had seen that season and I was able to contribute to points in the game which was very satisfying. We went up 37-0 at halftime, won the game 54-38.

What song best describes your work ethic?

• The song that best describe my work ethic would be “Not Wrong Now” by NBA Youngboy. It’s just something about that sound and his lyrics tied together that makes my heart start racing, regardless of where I am or what I’m doing when the song comes on. I leave it on repeat often when training or lifting.

What is the most important trait you can have (Physical or Non-Physical) to help you succeed at the next level? 

• The most important trait that I have that will help me at the next level is my awareness mixed in with my rationality. Not really much to explain from there, just be blessed with the ability to comprehend things faster than others, putting two and two together and adjusting to be around the ball and make places. I would say my determination is neck and neck with this though. It doesn’t matter whose lined up across me, as a human being and a man, it wouldn’t be another person that can physically stop me from what I want to do if I really want to do it. I’ve it seen it happen and doubt it will. Brings out a different anger and aggression in me.

If you could bring one person back from the dead for one day, who would it be and why?

• I honestly wouldn’t bring anyone back from the dead if I wanted to because anybody that has passed in my life has given me more energy to use to be successful in life. Who am I to bring them back and mess up other’s around me ambition from the passing. Plus, just because I bring them back to life doesn’t mean they’ll never die again and I would put those same people in the pain they’ve already experienced or vice versa, which would be putting that love that I brought back in pain if someone dies around them that didn’t die before their passing. I hope you get what I’m trying to say.

If you were to open a dance club, what would you name it? 

• If I were to open a dance club, I would name it, “Club 23.”

Who is the most underrated player in the NFL? 

• Most underrated player in the NFL right now is Myles Jack. Outstanding inside linebacker with pretty good coverage. I don’t think he gets the hype and respect that he deserves.

Would you rather be liked or respected, and why?

• I would easily rather be respected. You can like someone but not respect them, just like them for a limited time because of a particular reason. I don’t need nor want people to love and like me. Respect will be given though. I reciprocate energy so, I may not like someone but I am always willing to give the respect but the moment I feel that there’s not respect giving, it’s over. Don’t get me wrong either, I don’t mistake disagreement with disrespect or easily offended but I understand people and the psychology of humans. I can interpret true disrespect.

What player who had his career derailed by off-field issues do you feel for the most and why?

• Honestly, I feel bad for Antonio Brown. I don’t know what’s going on with him mentally but it is evident that he’s not stable. He was a great athlete in the NFL, with a promising career ahead of him. My heart goes out to him and pray that he can recover from whatever he’s battling and hopefully play another down in the NFL.

Do you love to win, or hate to lose?

• I hate to lose. I’ve gotten no type of satisfaction from wins before but it doesn’t matter who I lose to, I take that to heart. I don’t care if it’s the worst team in the league or ranked #1 team, predicted to beat me by 30. It’s the same pain and I hate it.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life and explain why?

• The biggest influence in my life is easily my parents. Remembering being young and watching them start from where they started, trust the process and stuck with it and now seeing them thrive in the field is amazing to see. Spent many summers and days at other relative’s home when younger while my parents were off at work because they were determined and had a vision. It sucked then but I don’t regret them doing that because it help me build character and helped me see what true determination and hard work looks like. I’m a product of that.

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at nfldraftdiamonds@gmail.com

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