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James: "I Want To Come In Here And Work And Contribute"

Posted May 9, 2014

In his introductory press conference, new Dolphins tackle Ja'Wuan James discusses his new South Florida home and his transition to football after being a basketball player early in his childhood.

Dennis Hickey

(Opening Statement) – “Again, I appreciate everyone coming in. It’s a big day for the Miami Dolphins. It’s great last night to be able to have the opportunity to select a high quality young man that’s an excellent football player. We just couldn’t be happier to welcome Ja’Wuan James to the Miami Dolphins. As we went through the process, we were looking for tough, smart, productive players and guys who have produced at a high level for a long time, and that fit the criteria of what we were looking for. As we scouted Ja’Wuan through the process, at every step of the process, he definitely fit as a Miami Dolphin. And that’s why, with the 19th selection last night, we couldn’t wait to select Ja’Wuan James and add him to the Miami Dolphins.”

Ja’Wuan James

(On how the past few hours have been for him) – “It’s definitely been crazy. I haven’t slept yet. I was definitely excited. I got to spend time with my family last night, I enjoyed that. This whole process was a blessing, and my life dream came true last night. I appreciate the Dolphins for inviting me to this organization, and I’m ready to go to work.”

(On his experience in South Florida) – “My last experience was my visit here. I didn’t want to leave when I came down here. I wanted to be part of this team, and my prayers were answered last night.”

(On what other teams had him on the radar) – “Just a lot of different teams. I had several visits. But during this whole process, I had it on my mind that I was going to go to the place I was supposed to be. This feels right, and I’m glad to be here and I’m supposed to be here.”

(On what team he grew up rooting for) – “I never rooted for a specific team. I always had favorite players. Growing up, I liked Michael Vick and Warrick Dunn -- being from the Atlanta area. I didn’t really like the Falcons though. I’ve always been a player guy instead of a team guy.”

(On why he didn’t like the Falcons) – “I don’t know. I didn’t want to follow the crowd of everybody in Atlanta that was all over them.”

(On why he didn’t cheer for the Falcons growing up) – “I don’t know. I didn’t want to follow the crowd of everybody in Atlanta that was just all over them.”

(On starting 49 games in college) – “Yeah, definitely. Like I said, it’s a blessing for me to be able to stay healthy that long, be consistent enough. I had several different coaches during that time. For me to keep proving myself to them and showing them the consistency of me having that position. It definitely helped during this process, and I feel like it is going to help transition to this next level having that experience.”

(On any pressure coming in and playing right away) – “I don’t feel pressure. I just want to come in and compete. I want to contribute to this team the best way I can, whatever that is. Whoever is in front of me, I’m going to go out there, I’m going to compete and I’m going to block them. I just want to come in here and contribute to the team in a positive way on and off the field.”

(On if he’s been able to meet some of his new offensive linemen teammates) – “I went to school with Dallas Thomas. I played with him for three years. On my visit, I got a chance to meet (Mike) Pouncey. Some of the other guys in the locker room I saw them, but haven’t yet today.”

(On how closely he followed everything last season and his comfort level with the team) – “I’m comfortable. I’ve been around this environment (during) my visit. I’ve been around them during this whole process, the coaches, Mr. (Dennis) Hickey, everybody. That’s last year. I’m focused on this year, and my new opportunity and our team’s new opportunity.”

(On how he got into karate) – “In school I was graduating earlier in December. There weren’t a lot of classes left for me to take, so me and Dallas (Thomas), they put us in this karate class. They said it would help with our hands and things like that with football.”

(On his reaction to Mike Pouncey’s tweet last night) – “I don’t have a reaction. He’s probably just playing and saying things. It’s all part of the process being a rookie. I’m just looking forward to coming in and working with these new guys.”

(On blocking Jadeveon Clowney in college and how he did against him) – “I went against him this year. It was only for about eight or seven plays. I did pretty well. He’s a great defensive end. I’m a good offensive tackle too. I just blocked him. That was my job.”

(On what the moment was like getting drafted last night) – “I was sitting on my coach with my family. I was just casually watching it and got the phone call, the best phone call of my life. Everybody was in the room started yelling and screaming. I had to leave the room to go talk to these guys. I just really appreciated it. It was the best moment in my life.”

(On if he got emotional when he was drafted last night) – “Yeah I did, especially because I went into it not having expectations. I just wanted to play football anywhere. This was the place I wanted to go to. This was my last visit. This was where I was like, ‘I want to be here.’ So God definitely blessed me. He heard my prayers and answered them.”

(On what about the Dolphins that made him feel like home during his visit) – “Like I said, the interaction I had with this whole coaching staff and everybody in the organization throughout this whole draft process, the combine, the Senior Bowl, just coming to my pro day, meeting with them here, getting here, seeing the facility, talking to some of the guys on the team and just feeling the right atmosphere, getting to talk to Dallas Thomas my former teammate and how he feels about everybody. It just felt like a great fit.”

(On if he has spent a lot of time in the Miami area) – “No sir, never had.”

(On what he thinks of Miami) – “It’s a nice area, but I’m down here to work. This is my first job, and I have to come prepared. I can’t let all of those distractions distract me. I just want to come in here and work and contribute.”

(On how much contact he had with Dallas Thomas last fall) – “A lot. Dallas is one of my best friends. Like I said, I played with him for three years. He was just letting me in on the transition. He was getting me ready for the process I just went through, this whole combine and draft process. He definitely did a good job of mentoring me, getting me prepared for some of the things that were coming ahead.”

(On when he started to think he had a good chance to play in the NFL) – “It was after my freshman year. That’s where I think the switch really flipped, talking to my coaches and them telling me I have the tools, the work ethic (and) that I just have to maximize it. I have to get the most out of it. I appreciate all of the coaches I’ve had to get me to this point. But I will say my freshman season is when I really saw it kick in.”

(On if he had always played on the offensive line) – “In high school, I played tight end.”

(On his impressions of offensive coordinator’s Bill Lazor’s offense) – “It’s very similar to what I did this previous year with my new coaching staff with Coach (Butch) Jones when he came to Tennessee, he brought the zone-blocking scheme. It fits what I bring to the table very well. I have long arms. During the pass block I’m able to move, adjust and things like that. It’s definitely the same watching it on the film and watching it during the game. It’s some of the same schemes with the zone blocking.”

(On if anyone in his family plays college and pro sports) – “No, I’m an only child in my family. My mom, she was just a hard-working lady. My dad (is) the same thing. They didn’t play sports, but I played basketball my whole life growing up. I didn’t start playing football until 8th grade. I don’t know, I’ve just been blessed I guess with the athletic ability.”

(On why he started to play football in 8th grade) – “I grew up in New Jersey and then moved down to Georgia in the 7th grade. I was always a bigger kid, and everybody was like, ‘Man you need to play football. That’s a big thing in the south.’ I started off as a tight end, then my high school coach told me, ‘You could be maybe be a (Division) II or non-scholarship basketball player, but I feel like you could be a really good offensive linemen.’ He definitely was right.”

(On what position he played in basketball) – “I was a forward, yes. More like a wing-man.”

(On how good he is at basketball) – “I’m good (laughs). I feel like I’m pretty good at basketball. ”

(On if there is a specific offensive tackle he models his game after) – “Not just one. I just watch a lot of tape. I like to watch a lot of tape of a lot of different guys and see different things they are doing, just pick up on the game as you watch it. So just watching several different type of guys.”

(On who he watched tape on) – “Joe Staley, guys like him. I watched Michael Oher. Just any clips I could find. Just turn on the TV and watch an NFL game.”

(On how LeBron James could beat him in basketball) – “Yeah, that’s the king around here. “

(On his sports experience dealing with locker room hazing and bullying) – “I’m a pretty mentally tough guy. I know it’s all part of the process. It’s all part of football. We are all family, and at the end of the day, we go out there and compete against each other, we compete with each other. On Sundays, we compete for each other. So I feel like it just builds brotherhood. It’s nothing bad or negative.”

(On if he expects to be the Opening Day starter at right tackle) – “I don’t expect anything. Like I said, I expect to come in and work hard and earn what I’m given. I got to go earn it. That’s how I was raised my whole life; you got to earn what you get.”

(On what caused him to want to play offensive tackle) – “When I saw where it could take me, how good I was at it, and I just wanted to hone in and get better at it. Once I saw that I was okay at it, didn’t even know technique, know anything. When I really started working at it, I saw the progress I was making. I really enjoyed it and I learned to love offensive line. The best part of it is the guys you’re blocking with on your right and left, and that running back and that quarterback’s success. We don’t get a lot of that, but when they’re getting success, you know you did your job.”

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