Anthony James arrived in Seattle on Thursday night.
On Friday, he committed.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound defensive lineman and former Texas A&M commit — one of 21 official visitors to Washington this week — became UW’s third verbal commit in the past four days, joining three-star edge Jacob Lane and three-star defensive back Diesel Gordon.
Yet another commitment — from three-star Aurora, Colorado, offensive tackle Zachary Henning — arrived a few hours later.
James is almost certainly the most important commit of the (albeit brief) Kalen DeBoer era at UW — ranked as a four-star recruit, the No. 7 defensive lineman in the country and the No. 54 overall prospect in the 2023 class by 247Sports.
“(DeBoer) is consistent in his message to both recruits and players,” James told 247Sports, explaining his commitment. “Until you come here and see the team, the connection to coaches and players … it’s going to be big and I want to be a part of it. I believe in Coach DeBoer.”
Meanwhile, Henning — a 6-6, 275-pounder from Gandview High School — is offensive line coach Scott Huff’s first verbal commit in the 2023 class. He’s ranked as a three-star prospect, the No. 8 player in Colorado and the No. 104 offensive tackle in his cycle by 247Sports.
Henning chose Washington over offers from Utah, Colorado, Kansas State, Kansas, Indiana, Oregon State and more. Huff also hopes to add three-star Ferndale offensive lineman Landen Hatchett — who’s currently on a UW official visit — after four-star Kennedy Catholic prospect Micah Banuelos eliminated the Huskies from contention this week.
A Wylie, Texas, product, James rescinded his Texas A&M commitment May 22 and took official visits to Utah on June 3 and Auburn on June 17. But he obviously saw enough in his second trip to Seattle — after completing an unofficial visit this spring — to end his recruitment altogether.
“I think (James’ commitment) is important, in the sense that they’ve really made Texas a priority with this staff,” 247Sports national editor Brandon Huffman said. “They were circling towards that route with (Chris) Petersen’s staff. It’s clear that they’re not letting up in Texas any time soon. But instead of going after a second-tier Texas guy, they’re getting a first-tier Texas guy with this commitment — a guy who was committed to Texas A&M, a guy who had national offers all over the country.
“So I think that’s significant. It really legitimizes their pursuit in Texas and it legitimizes the caliber of recruit they could get from Texas.”
James is set to be the first Texas defensive lineman to sign with Washington since Levi Onwuzurike — a 2021 second-round NFL draft pick — landed at UW in 2016.
It’s worth noting that two other four-star recruits from the Sun Belt region — Lake Charles, Louisiana, corner Curley Reed and Arlington, Texas, safety Jordan Sanford — are on official visits to Washington this weekend as well.
James chose the Huskies over scholarship offers from Texas A&M, Utah, Auburn, Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon, Texas and more.
At 6-5 and 245 pounds, the lanky lineman previously recorded a 4.69-second 40-yard dash — which 247Sports recruiting analyst Gabe Brooks called “elite for a young defensive end prospect.”
“James has solid flexibility in his knees with some stiffness in his ankles,” 247Sports recruiting analyst Chris Singletary added in a written evaluation of James this spring. “He has a smooth running style with a good get off that flashes some suddenness. For a guy with a long build has above average change of direction. Uses his length and wingspan to his advantage when taking on blockers and not letting them get into his body. Plays with a motor and good effort, willing to chase plays away. Good pad level as he comes off the ball and engages with the offensive lineman. As he gets stronger his punch on the opponent will have more of an effect. The fact that he uses his hands well at this stage of his career is a positive sign.
“James is a guy with a lot of potential and positive traits. His body type and physical maturity into college will enable him to fit in either an odd or even front defensive line. He is a player that can play either end or become a 3-tech (interior defensive lineman) with the amount of weight that he may gain.”
James and Henning added to an eight-deep 2023 class currently ranked 49th in the nation by 247Sports. James is also the Huskies’ second four-star commit (joining wide receiver Rashid Williams) and second pledge from the state of Texas (joining Arlington defensive back Diesel Gordon).
And with 21 official visitors in Seattle this week, and four commits in the last four days, the Huskies are certainly hoping there’s more good news ahead.
“It could (influence other recruits to commit), especially some of the other out-of-state guys that are visiting,” Huffman said of James’ pledge. “I think that certainly helps, when you’ve got a couple other kids visiting this week from the southwest. That obviously doesn’t hurt. Maybe the California kids aren’t necessarily going to be moved by it, but for kids that are coming from that sun belt area, they may say, ‘OK, he did it. I can make that same move too.'”