James Sims: Not A Typical Freshman

Sept. 23, 2010

Kansas freshman James Sims is anything but ordinary.

From his style – sporting a fade, which was made popular nearly two decades ago – to his persona, to his skill on the football field, few people would describe the Jayhawk freshman as “typical”.

The true freshman running back, who leads the Jayhawks with 175 rushing yards in two games, is just fine with that.

“It’s just good to know that people are noticing me,” said Sims, who will be a key player in KU’s game with New Mexico State Saturday at 6 p.m. at Memorial Stadium. “Some people like it (my haircut), and others just laugh – but that’s just my style.”

A perfect example of Sims’ unique style is the professional football team he cheers for. Sims went to school at MacArthur High in Irving, Texas, which is a 10-minute drive away from the old Texas Stadium – the former home of the Dallas Cowboys. But don’t think of asking if he is a Cowboys fan.

“Oh no, absolutely not – New Orleans Saints all the way,” said Sims. “Even though we’ve got a lot of guys from Texas on the (KU) team, and I grew up in Texas, I’m still a huge Saints fan.”

One also wouldn’t expect a true freshman running back, playing for a team coming off a loss, playing in his first collegiate game, to set a Kansas freshman debut record with 101 yards on 17 carries, which is exactly what he did against then-No. 15 Georgia Tech on Sept. 11. He followed that up with 74 yards on 20 carries against Southern Mississippi.

Along with following his NFL team and keeping up with his hair, Sims has some other pretty big responsibilities; he’s the new star running back of a Big 12 football team.

After losing Jake Sharp to graduation last year, the Jayhawk backfield has to deal with some other sizeable losses; Junior Rell Lewis suffered a season-ending knee injury in fall camp, and 2009 rushing leader Toben Opurum moved to linebacker before the season kicked off. Of course, you would expect an 18-year old college freshman to get awfully nervous under the pressure. Of course, Sims doesn’t have a problem with it.

“When I was first being recruited, (Recruiting Coordinator and Running Backs Coach Reggie Mitchell) told me that I would have to start playing bigger than a freshman, so I’m just going to continue to work hard and get the job done,” he said.

Sims will attempt to keep providing a punch in the Jayhawks’ backfield along with senior Angus Quigley and redshirt freshman Deshaun Sands.

“It’s a good feeling (to have three different running backs), we each bring something different to the table,” said Sims. “We’ll just rotate in whenever we need to be doing something different.”

The Jayhawks hope that with Sims leading the way, the team can rush to a win over New Mexico State this Saturday.