CINCINNATI — Less than an hour after Ohio State offered Jakob James a scholarship, the Elder High School junior offensive lineman stopped at the Rusty Bucket to eat lunch with his family and decided he didn't need to chew on the offer much longer.
He stepped outside and called Ohio State coach Ryan Day with his verbal commitment to play for the Buckeyes Monday afternoon.
“It’s a dream come true,” James told WCPO Monday night. “I know I’ve always thought about how special it would be to play there.”
Sixteen-year-old James, who stands 6-feet-4-inches and weighs 270 pounds, is the fourth reported area football player to have committed to a college football program in the 2020 class.
La Salle running back Cam Porter verbally committed to Northwestern in December 2018. Covington Catholic tight end Michael Mayer verbally committed to Notre Dame in July 2018. St. Xavier junior offensive tackle Paris Johnson verbally committed to Ohio State in June 2018.
James said he has an excellent rapport with Day and Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa.
“They really like my film, and they like how I am a tough Ohio kid,” James said.
The Buckeyes actually gave James a soft offer last summer where it was an agreement that if he gained weight and came to camp this summer, then Ohio State would re-evaluate him. Day told James he is right where he needs to be so he wanted to extend the offer Monday.
"It's an honor and a privilege that I have grown up learning about, having family that have both worn the Scarlet and Gray and are fans as well," James wrote in a tweet. "As a kid, being an Elder Panther and playing football in The Pit is all I ever wanted to do. The next step is becoming a part of the legacy and tradition that is OSU football and Buckeye Nation — something I can't wait to uphold and fulfill."
James, the son of Elder offensive line coach Craig James, had several significant scholarship offers during the recruiting process, including those from Michigan, Kentucky, Boston College, University of Cincinnati, Duke, Indiana, LSU, Iowa State, Penn State, Nebraska, Missouri, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Tennessee and others.
“It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said of the recruiting process.
James, a Division I second-team all-district selection, was first-team all-Greater Catholic League South division for the Panthers (8-5) in 2018. Elder was the Division I regional runner-up.
“Jakob is a very athletic lineman with a lot of toughness,” Elder coach Doug Ramsey said.
ScoutingOhio.com director Mark Porter said the 16-year-old James can play guard, tackle or possibly center at Ohio State.
James, who wears No. 78 like his late cousin, former St. Xavier High School All-American and Notre Dame signee Matt James, has better technique than some college linemen and has room to grow, Porter said.
“He is a very versatile lineman with a nasty streak,” Porter said. “He is a great athlete for a big man. He comes off the ball with great pop and will shock the defensive lineman with his heavy hands.”
Ohio State has seven commitments in the 2020 class, according to
. Jakob James will turn 17 in February and become eligible to sign with the Buckeyes in December.