Athlete. A 1952 graduate of Omaha Holy Name, James lettered four years on football teams that went 31-0-1. The lone tie was against Creighton Prep. He led the city in scoring for two years racking up 96 points in 1950 and 136 in 1951. Among his football honors were all-class all-state in 1951, Class B football player of the year 1951 and outstanding back of the All-Catholic All-American High School Football team. In basketball James was a starting guard for three Holy Name state tournament teams in 1950, ’51, and ’52. With a 15 point per game average, James was selected to the 1952 all-class all-state basketball team. He also played baseball for four years in pretty tough competition since Holy Name had to compete in Class A. Jim racked up the stats playing at second base and shortstop which culminated in Holy Name winning the Class A state championship his senior year. He accepted a full ride to Santa Clara College in football and baseball. When Santa Clara dropped football after his freshman season he moved on to UCLA where he was the starting wingback on on the co-national championship team. His teammates voted him the Rookie of the Year as he led the country with 10.3 yards per carry. He kicked the winning field goal in the last 17 seconds against Washington that put the Bruins in the 1956 Rose Bowl. He was selected to the Pac 8 All-Conference team as a defensive back and was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams. James passed up the Rams’ offer and signed with Edmonton of the Canadian League. His pro career was cut short with a career-ending injury in a preseason game. Football wasn’t his only sport for the Bruins. He lettered three years in baseball, being selected team captain and All-Pac 8 in 1956.
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