Alex James Is Taking Advantage of His Fresh Opportunity
The University at Albany football team had its largest victory since 2010 Saturday night when they defeated Bryant University 45-3.
In their home opener, The Danes’ six touchdowns came from five different players. Quarterback Jeff Undercuffler scored three times, once by running, twice by throwing. Cornerback Jerran Williams also scored by returning an interception for a touchdown.
No one in the game, however, shined more than redshirt junior running back Alex James. The transfer from Coastal Carolina University racked up a career-high 229 rushing yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns, earning him CAA Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors.
“It’s a moment I’ve been working for since I was younger,” said James. “With my brother playing football at Sacramento State, I was always around the environment so I’ve always been drawn to big moments.”
James opened the scoring Saturday with an 80-yard touchdown run and ran for an 83-yard gain in the fourth quarter, which was the fourth-longest run in program history.
The career outing came one week after carrying the ball three times for negative-seven yards at Central Michigan. Coach Gregg Gattuso said James was dealing with lingering injuries in that contest and needed time to get healthy.
“We knew Alex was a good back,” said coach Gattuso. “He had a great week of practice last week and we could not wait to get him in the game. I think the results speak for themselves.”
At Coastal Carolina, James appeared in 24 games, rushing 114 times for 475 yards and seven touchdowns. In one game for The Danes, he compiled nearly half of his prior collegiate career yardage.
Despite James’ dominant showing, starting running back Karl Mofor, who led the UAlbany backfield for two years, still put together a stellar performance. Mofor led all running backs with 18 carries and gained a career-high 124 yards. Third-string running back, freshman Jah Dabney, added five carries and scored his first career touchdown.
“There’s a lot of talent in the [running back] room,” said James. “It’s a tight-knit room, there are no selfish characters and that’s what makes it flow so well … It’s made it easy to come in and catch a flow for the offense and not feel competition with egos.”
James is familiar with the football field, but he is unfamiliar with the New York winter head of him. Originally from Mississippi, his family moved to Florence, South Carolina where he played high school football.
“Winter? Oh man, it is going to be different,” said James. “I’ve only seen snow like three times so it’s going to be an adventure. But, that’s part of the reason I came up here, to get into a new part of the country and expand my horizons.”
There is no plan to slow down this pace of running, as James looks to establish himself as a force for the UAlbany offense moving forward.
“I took a step in the right direction, but I’m certainly not finished yet,” said James. “I have way bigger plans than just one game, hopefully helping my team get into the playoffs.”
Coach Gattuso, too, has his eyes set on a bright season for James.
“Alex did such a great job on the [80-yard] run being patient. I think it is going to be important having two running backs that can block and run,” said coach Gattuso. “When the starter needs a break, the other guy can step in and there is virtually no drop off. That’s how we feel about Alex.”
James and The Danes next play Saturday, Sept. 14 when they travel to Monmouth at 1 p.m.