USATSI Gallery: Penn State vs. Eastern Michigan - 09/07/13
When head coach Bill O'Brien arrived at Penn State, Nittany Nation was immediately excited about the offense he would implement and the significant role tight ends would play. O'Brien has often stated that the tight ends have the second-most difficult job learning his diverse, high-octane offense after the quarterbacks. But, the challenges were embraced by the tight ends, who combined to make 83 receptions last year. Enrolling at Penn State in January 2012, Jesse James quickly assimilated himself into academics, football and campus life to begin a tremendously successful freshman season. He participated in winter workouts, began learning the offense O'Brien brought with him from the New England Patriots and then had a chance to demonstrate his vast array of skills during spring drills. Blessed with excellent physical attributes, work-ethic and desire, James was prepared to carry a heavy workload as a pass catcher and blocker during what would become a record-tying freshman campaign. 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). With his tremendous and dedicated efforts in the strength and conditioning program, James has dropped 15 pounds since the summer of 2012, while improving his strength and speed. An all-state honoree at South Allegheny High School, he ended his freshman season with one of the signature plays of the 2012 season. James delivered a 41-yard catch and run early in the fourth quarter for the go-ahead touchdown in the overtime win over Wisconsin in an electric 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. Among seven returning players from greater Pittsburgh, James joins the long line of outstanding Penn State football student-athletes from western Pennsylvania.
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.