by Dave Schroeder - www.twitter.com/GulfSportsDave
Leading up to the kickoff of high school football on August 19, we will be profiling the best area prep stars with the WLOX/South Mississippi Living "Elite 11" squad.
First up is Long Beach defensive lineman Nick James, who verbally committed to Mississippi State last week.
Entering his senior season, James has one goal: dominate.
"These last months I just have to dedicate myself all to football. And if I want to dominate that's what I got to do these last couple of months," said James.
With his college decision already out of the way, the 6-5, 325 lb. James has added a new focus to his already staggering physical abilities.
"Nick is a rare talent. He's a big kid who has got more athletic ability than anyone I've ever seen at his size. Kids that big are not supposed to be able to run like he can," said Long Beach head coach Tommy Browder
"People say I play like Dwight Freeney, but I consider myself a Warren Sapp type of guy," James said.
Brute strength and speed are James' two biggest assets. But if he wants to live up to all the hype, it will take more than talent alone.
That's why James dropped weight this summer, getting into the best shape of his life.
"He had a really good work ethic this summer. He's worked hard. He's lost about 20 lbs. from last year, so he's worked real hard and I expect a big year from him," Browder said. "He was more of a potential player last year. He made some plays, but he wasn't that consistent for us. This year, hopefully he's going to have a great senior year and be the dominant player he's capable of being."
And just what is he capable of?
"My goal is to get at least 100 tackles," James said.
"There's no question ability-wise. He's got all the ability in the world. It's just up to him and how far he wants to take it," Browder said.