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Penn State alums playing on 21 NFL teams; 10 former Nittany Lions are on NFL coaching staffs
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Tight end Jesse James has the size, skill set and football IQ of a player that presents a mismatch on every snap when he lines up. The 6-7 Nittany Lion has quietly emerged as one of the Big Ten's top tight ends and has had two tremendously productive campaigns for the Blue and White. Sporting News named James first-team preseason All-Big Ten heading into his junior season. The team's top returning receiver, James made 25 receptions for 333 yards last year and scored three touchdowns, tied for second on the squad. James will team with Adam Breneman, Kyle Carter and Brent Wilkerson to form one of the nation's premier tight end units. He started all 12 games last season and has made 18 career starts, tied for fourth-highest on the squad. His tremendous physical attributes, strength and receiver-like traits make him a challenging matchup for opposing defenses, and he has consistently demonstrated the ability to catch the ball in traffic and gain significant yards after the catch. The former South Allegheny High School all-state player brings a fierce work-ethic to the practice field and the strength and conditioning program, adding 10 pounds of muscle since last season. James made at least two receptions in eight games last season, including a career-best six catches and grabbing his first touchdown of the season in the four-overtime win over No. 18 Michigan. He gained a season-high 67 yards against the Wolverines, including the 20-yard TD reception. James made two catches for 64 yards in the 45-21 win over Purdue, including a career-long 58-yard catch and run in the third quarter to set up a score. He made three catches for 56 yards against Nebraska, with a career-long 46-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter to give Penn State a 20-17 lead. James is director of marketing for Penn State's Uplifting Athletes chapter, which has raised more than $825,000 for kidney cancer patients, their families and research since the first Penn State Lift For Life was held in 2003. Among 10 returning players from the greater Pittsburgh area, James joins a long line of outstanding Nittany Lion football student-athletes from Western Pennsylvania.
2013 (Sophomore Season)
James was third on the team with 25 receptions for 333 yards and was tied for second with three touchdown catches. His 13.3-yard average was second only to All-America wideout Allen Robinson. Starting in all 12 games, he boosted his career starts total to 18. His efforts as a blocker and receiver helped the Nittany Lions rush for 2,088 yards and throw for 3,110 yards. James made two catches for 10 yards in the season-opening win over Syracuse at MetLife Stadium. He had two catches for 46 yards against Eastern Michigan, including a 27-yard effort. He made two catches for 30 yards against UCF, including a long of 17 yards in the fourth quarter that set up the Lions' final touchdown, and made three catches for 20 yards against Kent State. James had a career-best six catches and grabbed his first touchdown of the season, a 20-yard reception, in the four-overtime win over No. 18 Michigan. He gained a season-high 67 yards in the win over the Wolverines. James made two catches for 64 yards in the 45-21 win over Purdue, including a career-long 58-yard catch and run in the third quarter to set up a field goal. He made three catches for 56 yards against Nebraska, including a career-long 46-yard TD catch and run in the fourth quarter to give Penn State a 20-17 lead. He recorded three receptions for 24 yards in the 31-24 win at No. 14 Wisconsin, including a leaping seven-yard touchdown catch to give Penn State the lead for good in the third quarter.
2012 (Freshman Season)
James enrolled in the University in January 2012 and went right to work in the winter conditioning program, followed by spring practice. Playing in every game, with six starts, he was selected a CollegeFootballNews.com honorable-mention Freshman All-American for his efforts. James made 15 receptions for 276 yards and five touchdowns, good for second on the team, and his superb 18.4 yards per catch average led the squad. His five touchdown catches tied the Penn State season record by a tight end, joining Bob Parsons (1971) and Dan Natale (1972). James also played a vital role in helping pave the way for 1,000-yard rusher Zach Zwinak and protecting quarterback Matt McGloin during his record-setting campaign. One of six true freshmen to earn playing time, James made his Penn State debut in the season-opener with Ohio and caught his first career touchdown pass in the 34-7 win against Navy in Bill O'Brien's first career head coaching victory. James made his first career start in the 24-13 win over Temple and started in the 39-28 comeback victory over No. 24 Northwestern, making one catch. James set then-season-highs with three catches for 52 yards, including a touchdown, in the 38-14 prime time win at Iowa. He made a 31-yard catch and dove into the end zone to give the Nittany Lions a 7-0 first-quarter lead over the Hawkeyes. He made one catch for 20 yards against Ohio State and had three catches for 49 yards and a touchdown in the 34-9 win at Purdue. James had a 35-yard catch and run to set up a second-quarter score against the Boilermakers and broke free from a defender for a 12-yard touchdown and a 27-3 lead in the third quarter. He made two catches for 21 yards at No. 18 Nebraska, including an 11-yard catch and run for a touchdown. James recorded a season-long 42-yard catch and run to set up a touchdown in the final minute of the first half in the win over Indiana. James started in the 24-21 overtime win against Wisconsin and delivered the go-ahead score on a 41-yard catch and run early in the fourth quarter in a frenzied Beaver Stadium. He made three catches for a season-high 90 yards against the Badgers, adding a 37-yard catch and run in the third quarter to set up a field goal.
James was a two-time second-team all-state performer for Coach Pat Monroe at South Allegheny High School. He earned first-team All-Century Conference at tight end as a junior and senior, after making 71 receptions for 1,030 yards and 10 touchdowns during his final two seasons with the Gladiators. He was selected a team captain during each of his final three seasons at South Allegheny. James was invited to play in the Semper-Fidelis All-American game and was named to the 2011 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fabulous 22. MaxPreps rated James the nation's No. 3 tight end during his senior season.
Full name is Jesse Dylan James. He is the son of Rick and Susan James. He has four brothers: William, Keith, Rick and Brady, and two sisters, Carly and Isabella. James plans to major in kinesiology and is interested in a career as a fitness trainer. Born June 4, 1994 in McKeesport, Pa.
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