James Starks, a name that suddenly conjures phrases like “rookie playoff hero,” “Neo” and “the green Jesus”. He is both the source of newfound mancrushes and budding folklore across Packer nation. But besides being an American football running back for the Packers of Green Bay, what do you really know about this guy? Personally, I didn’t know much so I waded through a bunch of stories to try and give us both a little more about Starks. P.S. Thank goodness this is a blog, otherwise I’d have to cite sources and that crap.
To begin, Starks is from Niagara Falls, New York where he was raised by a single mom along with six other kids in the projects. Not the greatest situation, but the Starks’ family stuck together like Acme glue with the help of his hardworking, dedicated mother who worked two jobs and jockeyed her kids all over the place. James’ older brother described him as the “biggest momma’s boy you’ve met in your life.” I love it already.
For the Niagara Falls Wolverines, James played basketball (alongside T-Wolves’ Johnny Flynn actually) and football. On the field, Starks acted like a young Michael Vick, playing quarterback and rushing for over 1,000 yards and throwing for over 600 yards his senior year. He was recruited by a bunch of big-name schools, but eventually accepted a scholarship at the nearby University of Buffalo to stay closer to his family.
Starks’ college career took some really interesting turns and he initially started as a cornerback. However, when Turner Gill (former Packers quality control and now Kansas coach) took over, Starks briefly assumed his high school position of quarterback. That is until they noticed his crazy skills as a runner and moved him to running back – full time, for good.
It was clear Starks found his niche as a runner and began to kick all sorts of ass, becoming the school’s all-time leading rusher in just three seasons and essentially turning the program around. Here are some highlights. Entering his senior year, Starks was on the map as one of the best college runners and hoping to finish with enough momentum to be a high draft pick in the NFL. Unfortunately, he received a labrum tear in his shoulder during a scrimmage and had to go under the knife, missing his entire senior year.
Entering the 2010 draft, Starks appeared to be over his shoulder injury and performed well enough at the combine (faster 40 than Ryan Matthews and Dexter McCluster) to be labeled a “potential steal.” Experts said he would not get drafted before the 4th round because of the injury, which eventually held true…AS YOU WELL KNOW, READER!
When drafted, Starks seemed very appreciative. "I'm just grateful for this opportunity and I'm going to make the most of it," said Starks. "I didn't even play a year and God blessed me with an opportunity to do something I love, I'm very grateful for it… (The Packers) said they liked my film and they were proud to make me a Green Bay Packer. I said 'Coach I'll be ready, I'm ready to come out there and work and I'll make sure you made the right choice.’”
Of course it took forever for James to get his chance with the Packers because of a hamstring injury, and he began his Packer career on the physically unable to perform list. He finally got promoted to the 53-man roster Week 13 against San Francisco where he rushed 18 times for 73 yards in a solid debut. And we all know how valuable he was against Philly, rushing 23 for 123 and catching a couple of passes as well.
Greenfield’s Analysis: Yep, he’s the chosen one alright! Sign him to a long-term deal now and begin his melon mold for Canton. There’s a few things that put me over the edge, but in the end I think his explosive, unpredictable, “pants on fire” style of running is just really, really, really, really fun to watch. And man, the timing couldn’t be better. James Starks, I salute you. Go Pack!
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