DQ James’ Trademark Smile, Speed Has Returned
LARAMIE -- Garrett Crall has been on the receiving end. So have guys like Esaias Gandy and Chad Muma. Now, there's a new generation of players getting juked out of their cleats, courtesy of DQ James.
If the 5-foot-7, 170-pound running back isn't fully recovered from a torn right ACL he suffered late in the regular season, he's close.
Just ask Easton Gibbs.
Craig Bohl stepped behind the podium, eyebrows raised, as he spoke about the meeting between the sophomore and the preseason Defensive Player of the Year in the Mountain West.
There was a meeting in the hole. It was brief.
James flashed that trademark smile and quickly whipped out his iPhone. Bohl wouldn't divulge who won that battle in practice. Video evidence shows it was No. 7.
It wasn't particularly close.
"I made a jump cut, made my move, and it was me and Easton one-on-one," James said. "Then, Easton was behind me."
Another brief clip shows the Texas product snagging a ball all alone in the flat. An oncoming safety flies onto the screen. He's either coming in for the kill shot or to shove James out of bounds.
James went from 100 miles per hour to zero, stopping on a dime, as the defensive back helplessly cruises by. He mashed on the gas again and trotted down the sideline toward the end zone.
It was Reggie Bush-esque.
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The explosion is apparent. So is the shiftiness and speed. Those practice highlights are special, but for James that's just another day at the office. What's most important for him is trust. That's the relationship he is still rebuilding with his surgically repaired knee.
"It's a hurdle I'm getting over," James said. "After dealing with my ACL and the depression, to be able to get back on the field and feeling like my normal self, it felt good to make those moves. Especially in my brace. My brace feels good. I felt more stable when I made my moves."
There's an ice pack on James' heavily-tattooed right leg. He sat out practice on this day. It's purely precautionary, he says. The damage happened when a Colorado State helmet struck. Wyoming's speedster didn't know the severity. In fact, he stayed in the game. He credited adrenaline for that.
To make matters worse, James was coming off a career night at Hawaii.
He gashed the Rainbow Warriors to the tune of 179 yards on just 14 carries. That's an average of 12.8 yards per tote. He even busted a 74-yard run that helped lift the Cowboys to a 27-20 win on the islands. James also eclipsed the century mark a week prior, rolling up 120 rushing yards on 10 attempts.
"That hurt, knowing I was getting a feel for the game," James said. "I was starting to get used to the tempo of the college speed.
"God is always going to test you before He blesses you."
James was medically cleared for full contact this week. He compares it to winning the lottery. Wyoming's head coach welcomed that news for a number of reasons.
Dawaiian McNeely, who sits atop the initial depth chart at running back, suffered a knee injury Wednesday morning. The severity is unknown, but Bohl didn't sound optimistic. Another back, Harrison Waylee, is also expected to miss the "first couple games" after undergoing some minor knee surgery in the offseason.
"We're encouraged," Bohl said, referring to James. "... It was good to see him out there. I was concerned. Initially, we didn't know if he'd be able to start practice on Day 1. He was able to be out there."
Can James be the feature back in this offense?
His grin tells a tale.
"Oh, most definitely. Yes, sir," he said.
That's when the phone made its appearance.
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