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2020 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Morgan James, RG, University of Cincinnati

Morgan James the starting RG from the University of Cincinnati recently sat down with Jonathan Joyce of NFL Draft Diamonds.

Student-Athlete Profile:

  • Morgan James
  • University of Cincinnati
  • RG
  • 6’5”
  • 325 LBS.
  • Hometown: Highland, MI
  • Twitter: @morgan_james78

 2019 Accolades & Statistics:

  • 2019 American Athletic Conference Football First Team.
  • 2019 PFF All-AAC Team Honorable Mention.
  • GP: 11
Congratulations on the All-AAC honors. What was your initial emotion when receiving that news? Who is the first person you shared it with?

I first found out on social media. Someone had tagged me in the AAC’s post when it was released. It was a great feeling and a huge honor to be named first-team along with six other of my teammates. I think it speaks a lot to what kind of team we really were this season. I shared it first with my fiance and she was very happy for me. I told her I couldn’t have done it without her support.

You didn’t start playing football until after you arrived at UC. What drew you to the sport?

I have always been intrigued by football because of the tough and physical nature of the game. When I gave up playing hockey, I still had an urge to compete that needed to be satisfied. I knew I had what it took to play this game, but it was support and encouragement from others that really helped push me to take the plunge and go for it.

Tell me about your time playing in the Southern Professional Hockey League. What made you pursue hockey further? Do you find yourself itching to get back on the ice?

In my time in the minor leagues, I strictly played an “enforcer” role on the ice. It was my job to protect our skill players by any means necessary, similar to my role as an offensive lineman. That meant a lot of fighting and intimidation to keep other players from taking shots at my guys. However, I was getting very little to no playing time. That’s how it is as an enforcer and it’s a hard pill to swallow at times. I wanted a greater role, one that entailed real playing time and a chance to give a greater contribution to the team. That’s what I love about my role as an offensive lineman. I still love hockey, but I am a ball player now.

What have you taken away the most from Coach Fickell, Coach Crook and the rest of the Cincinnati coaching staff?

I have learned a great deal about myself and the game of football from these coaches. But the greatest takeaway from my time at Cincinnati is to attack everything with my best effort, on and off the field. In practice, the weight room, and in the film room, every little detail counts in this game. Coach Fick always says “4 to 6, A to B.” It refers to the length of a play and giving your absolute best through the whistle.

When football is over, what do you aspire to do in the professional world?

I would honestly really love to stay in this environment for as long as possible. I love everything about it. A big part of me wants to become a strength and conditioning coach so I can keep doing that. I am also holding the option of utilizing my multiple degrees in a sales or marketing career.

What separates you from other players at the guard position?

Toughness, grit, and maturity. I know a lot of guards are tough and have grit but I pride myself on it greatly and believe that it is a critical part of being successful at this position.

Who is the toughest player you’ve competed against during your collegiate career?

Ohio State’s defensive line has been my best competition.

If your life was a book, what would the title be?

“The Protector.”

Give me your Mount Rushmore of all-time offensive linemen, past or present. What made you choose these four players?

Tyron Smith, Marshal Yanda, Quenton Nelson, and Jason Kelce. They are all masters of their craft that display tremendous toughness and grit.

Is there a current or former NFL player you emulate your game after?

I really enjoy watching Quenton Nelson. He has great technique combined with speed, power, and execution.

If I’m in Cincinnati on a Saturday night during the Fall, where is the one place I have to eat?

Ambar India. The excellent Indian food here in Cincy. Great during the winter.

You’re in front of all 32 NFL General Managers and have 15 words or less to give them your pitch on why Morgan James will be an asset to their organization for years to come. What do you tell them?

I will never stop pushing to make myself, and others around me better.

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