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Pitt gets running back recruit from Illinois

| Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, 2:57 p.m.

Pitt worked hard to recruit running back Chris James for its Class of 2014.

“They were relentless,” said James' grandmother, Audrey Davis, who helped raise him since he was 3 years old. “I've never seen anything like it. The mail tumbles out of the mailbox every day.”

Davis said Pitt coaches even sent her a Mother's Day card.

James, who played at Notre Dame for Boys in Niles, Ill., said he gave Pitt a verbal commitment Friday because of the relationship he built with the coaches.

“They were genuine with me throughout the process,” said James, who chose Pitt over Wisconsin, Michigan State and Tennessee.

James was ranked the 14th-best player — No. 3 running back — in Illinois by Rivals.com. The three-star recruit rushed for 1,734 yards and 20 touchdowns playing in the state's largest classification. He also caught 19 passes for 148 yards and another score.

The 5-foot-10, 208-pound James said he was impressed with the number of freshmen (12) who have played for the Panthers this season.

“No matter where you go, you have to compete for a spot,” he said. “If I can get myself ready, I feel I can compete for a spot (as a freshman).”

Notre Dame assistant coach Augie Genovesi said James was effective running inside and outside.

“He has speed and power. He is the real deal,” Genovesi said.

Genovesi said James, a three-star prospect, has a 40-yard dash time of 4.35 seconds and a 44-inch vertical jump, and he can bench press 350 pounds.

Pitt has 19 commits in next year's class. James joins three-star Qadree Ollison of Buffalo as the only running back prospects in the group.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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