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October 30, 2003When you cover recruiting, you tend to watch players "grow up" right before your very eyes - starting with that first phone call during their junior years in high school, on up to seeing them get their first start on national television on a Saturday afternoon. This week, Husky Fans will see redshirt freshman Kenny James get his first start as a Husky tailback, but I remember Kenny way back when....
It was the year that Lorenzo Booker was supposed to have been the top tailback in the country.
Ironically, Booker had a huge respect and admiration for his good friend, Kenny James; a (then) 5-11, 205 lb. running back from Dos Palos, Ca.
Kenny had some lofty goals that year; one was to rush for 3000 yards his senior season, and he came close.
In fact, James rushed for 2900 yards, and set all sorts of school records.
Here's an excerpt from an article Realdawg.com ran in July of 2002 ("That's what Dreams are Made of"), which said:
We recall the night of February 4th when Kenny told us to go ahead and run the exclusive report of his commit to Washington on this website. It was a couple of days before LOI day. James was going to initially wait and announce his decision on LOI day but decided to go ahead and release the news because he knew all eyes would be focused on Lo Booker's ESPN special. Kenny deserved to have his own time in the sun that week. He'd worked for it, and despite the Booker craze which had swept around the recruiting world like a cyclone those last few weeks of February, Kenny James was and is a guy who deserved to be held up as a grand prize for Rick Neuheisel's 2002 class. Husky fans may find themselves in the future saying, "Lorenzo who?"
Kenny James wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth, in fact, he grew up working for everything he achieved - whether it was picking cotton as a summer job, or studying relentlessly to make sure he got past the NCAA Clearinghouse.
On the field, Kenny is a bruiser - he'll drag the pile, and dig up those dirty, ugly yards.
His last two games as a Husky have shown fans just how much power and future this young back has - Kenny hasn't backed down from the challenge. While Rich Alexis is nursing a leg injury, Kenny James will start against the Oregon Ducks - ironically, a team he was heavily recruited by.
So if you're waiting to see a future big time running back who talks a little smack and exemplifies college football hype, forget it.
Kenny James is one of the most soft spoken, kind hearted people you could talk to.
When you think about players who you want to see succeed just because you know they're quality people, and quality athletes, Kenny James is the type of player who comes to mind.
Kenny wanted to wear #8 when he joined the Husky roster, "I know it was Willie Hurst's number", he said, "But I wanted to wear this number."
"Washington was where my heart was", Kenny said of his decision to become a Husky back in 2002, "I knew I had to follow my heart and my heart was here. I know I can make an impact, but I was glad to get to redshirt. I just stronger and so now, I'm more prepared to go right in if they need me to."
"I just want to help this team to get to where we have to be", he added, "I'll do that however I can, whatever they need me to do."