Mark Maccarone has many memories of coaching Ronnie James. His most vivid comes from his freshman season.
"We put him on the field in his first game and, you know what?" the Glassboro High School football coach said. "He was so good that he never came off it until his career was over."
By Maccarone's estimation, James, a 6-foot, 180-pound safety bound for Rutgers, played in every quarter of every one of the 45 games that made up his high school career.
During that time, James, named to The Inquirer's all-South Jersey second team as a defensive back, split time at safety and running back. Described by his coach as "one of the toughest kids I've ever coached," the three-star recruit finished his career with 258 tackles, 176 solo tackles and eight interceptions, three returned for touchdowns. He returned two of his four fumble recoveries for scores and had four special-teams touchdowns.
As a running back, Jones gained 2,857 yards on the ground, scored 36 rushing touchdowns, and had 490 receiving yards.
"He's a versatile player who did everything we asked of him," Maccarone said. "If there's one thing I can say about him it's that he's going to be missed. They're getting a very, very good football player."
One of six children, James committed to Rutgers before the start of the 2014 season. He chose the Scarlet Knights over Ohio State, Syracuse, Army, Massachusetts, Pitt, and, according to Maccarone, "a few other ACC and Big Ten" schools.
James is the younger brother of Rutgers running back Paul James, the former walk-on who had his season cut short after four games because of a torn ACL. It was the second year in a row Paul James missed time because of injury.
Ronnie said getting to play alongside his brother, who also went to Glassboro, was just part of the reason he chose Rutgers.
"I thought it was pretty cool that he went to Rutgers, but he isn't the base reason I'm going, although he did help me decide," James said.
James said that getting the opportunity to play in the Big Ten was also a major factor.
"It was a move of strength going to the Big Ten," James said of Rutgers, which left the American Athletic Conference after the 2013 season. "Rutgers is ready, and I love the fact that it's more competition - or 'harder' - as people would say. I love the challenge and I can't wait to compete there."
The New Jersey Group I 400-meter state champion, James was recruited primarily as a safety. However, he believes that he can play cornerback as well.
There is probably a greater opportunity for him at safety, though. Last season's Rutgers starters, Lorenzo Waters and Johnathan Aiken, must be replaced.
Last season, the Scarlet Knights pass defense improved significantly, allowing just under 230 yards per game. The year before it allowed 312 passing yards.
Like all incoming freshmen, James wants to play as soon as possible. He does, however, understand that this process will likely different from high school.
"It's very important to me to be able to play as a freshman. It will allow me to learn early on and show that I'm ready," James said. "I don't mind being redshirted - whatever makes me better - but I will work as hard as I can to touch the field freshman year."
Name Pos. Ht. Wt. High School
Jarius Adams DB 5-11 180 Dwyer (FL.)
Blessuan Austin DB 6-2 195 Milford Ac. (N.Y.)
Jon Bateky DE 6-4 235 Poolesville (Md.)
Rashad Blount WR 6-2 190 Creekside (Fla.)
Ron'Dell Carter DE 6-3 227 Long Reach (Md.)
Najee Clayton S 6-3 215 Paramus Catholic
Michael Dare QB 6-2 165 Memorial
Anthony Folkerts TE 6-5 214 Valwood (Ga.)
Marques Ford DE 6-4 230 East Bay (Fla.)
Sidney Gopre LB 6-0 210 Milford Ac. (N.Y.)
Nakia Griffin TE 6-5 220 Tenafly
Jawuan Harris WR 5-10 185 St. Thomas (Fla)
Jonah Jackson OT 6-4 285 Penncrest (PA)
Isaiah Johnson LB 6-2 220 City College of S.F.
Ronnie James S 6-0 180 Glassboro
Trevor Morris LB 6-2 200 Malvern Prep
Dontae Owens WR 6-0 180 Reading
Alkadair Ports ATH 6-1 190 Weequahic
Willingtn Previlon DE 6-5 230 Orange
Deonte Roberts Ath 6-2 210 Erasmus Hall (N.Y.)
Kamaal Seymour DT 6-6 270 Grand Street (N.Y.)
Jack Shutack OT 6-6 275 Nazareth (Ill.)
Charles Snorweah RB 5-10 175 Pennsbury
Manny Taylor OT 6-6 270 Roman Catholic
Zach Venesky OT 6-4 280 Valley View