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Penn State Football: James Heads South By Southeast Yet Again

by on September 07, 2014 2:00 PM

Penn State tight end Jesse James has a thing for the south end zone of Beaver Stadium. More specially the southeast side of the end zone.

In 2012 against Wisconsin, James hauled in a 41-yard pass from Matt McGloin on 4th and 6 that James simply walked in. The score would give Penn State a 20-14 lead early in the fourth quarter of the final game of the season. Penn State would go on to beat Wisconsin in overtime, largely thanks to James' reception.

In 2013, James would extend his south end zone dominance with a 46-yard touchdown reception against Nebraska on the first play of the fourth quarter. Penn State would lose that game in overtime, but James' catch and run would prove to be enough to get the game into overtime in the first place. It was a tiptoeing sprint down the sideline for six.

Now in 2014 James has added yet another stop on his southeastern travelogue. A 44-yard toss to a wide open James would give Penn State a 21-3 lead and put Saturday's Akron game finally out of reach. Yet again, he walked into the southwest corner of the end zone nearly untouched. The touchdown was also James' second of the day, the first multi-score game for the junior in his career.

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Mention his growing list of important touchdowns on that side of the field, James just smiles. He has never been one to sing his own praises, but James clearly enjoys seeing that sideline just to the left of his feet. 

James should continue to thrive the rest of the season. Christian Hackenberg will need all the help he can get as the team enters Big Ten play. James' 6-foot-7, 254 pound frame provides the sophomore gunslinger with a fairly large target to aim at. As James himself so elegantly stated, he can take the hits.

Like Hackenberg though, James continues to improve as a player. He is out on the wings blocking on screen plays. He stays inside to block on the running downs and grabs catches in traffic for important third down conversions. Even to consider asking a player about his NFL future this early in the season is a pointless endeavor, but one has to imagine James will weigh his options by the time this season is all said and done.

"It's a big difference. I'm a much more well balanced player," James said reflecting on the Jesse James who made that catch against Wisconsin and the Jesse James he is today. "I do a lot of things, I feel that I'm a lot smarter and see things coming quicker from the defense and it's easier to read it and I'm just growing as a player."

And as far as the guy throwing him passes this season? Hackenberg knows the kind of talent he has on the other end of the play.

"He's a very smart football player, he understands the game extremely well,'' Hackenberg said. "His football knowledge is through the roof. He's one of the those guys that you know you're on the same page with. You know that Jesse is going to be at the right spot at the right time, and that's huge for us.''

Judging by his ever-expanding list of second half touchdowns, James is picking all the right times to be in the right place too.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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